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reproductive system diagram

Male testes are located outside the
body where cooler temperatures help
maintain sperm production. In the
female, the ovaries are protected
within the pelvis.

While most organs in the human body are generally indistinguishable between the sexes, female ovaries and male testes are what clearly sets the two apart.

The male reproductive organs, for example, are found outside of the body. The sperm-producing testes lie in the scrotum, due to the fact that maintaining sperm several degrees below normal body temperature is vital to their production.

In the testes, tens of millions of sperm are developed, where once formed they complete their maturation in the epididymis.

When sperm are ready to be ejaculated, they join the ejaculatory fluid produced in the prostate gland.

During copulation, the sperm-rich fluid is transported through the penis via waves of muscle contractions at the time of climax (orgasm) to fertilize the ova in the female.

The female reproductive organs are also found primarily in the pelvic region, but are for the most part located inside the body to protect the ovaries (about the size of almonds) located on each side of the uterus.

In addition to eggs, the uterus is where the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone are produced, signaling sexual maturity and breast development. Progesterone also plays a significant role in preparing the uterine wall for egg implantation.

During copulation, sperm travel through the vagina to the ovaries, or eggs. Once fertilized by the sperm, the egg attaches itself to the uterine lining to develop into an embryo. During several stages of pregnancy the embryo develops into a fetus, and nine months later emerges through the vagina as a newborn.

Maintaining a healthy reproductive system

Like every other part in the body, the importance of proper nutrition and general good health to both the male and female reproductive system can't be understated.

Maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercise and eating a well balanced diet will all help to keep the reproductive organs operating at peak performance.

In sexually active adults, the reproductive organs are particularly vulnerable to STD's or sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis and HIV AIDS which can also lead to associated conditions such as infertility. Good hygiene is certainly important, as is practicing safe sex. Condoms go a long way towards preventing the spread of disease and infection, and anyone having sex should limit themselves to one partner at a time, and should expect the same of their partner.

Of course, maintaining proper nutrition throughout pregnancy is especially important for both mother and fetus, and regular checkups for such diseases as breast cancer in women or as prostate cancer in men are also of utmost importance as we age.

More about the reproductive system around the Web:

The Reproductive System - Complete overview with information and diagrams explaining the hormones and organs involved in sexual reproduction, with related information on fertilization, birth stages, sexually transmitted diseases.

HowStuff Works - How Human Reproduction Works - Introduction to the male and female organs and their development and roles in sexual reproduction with related instructional video and image gallery illustrating the stages of pregnancy.

Discovery Health - Sexual Health Center - Feature stories on marriage and relationships, information on STD's, related news and video, and an extensive online sexual health encyclopedia.

Sex, Etc - Excellent teen guide covering the gamut of sex from dating to sexually transmitted diseases with educational videos, an active online forum, expert's column, FAQ, and interactive quizzes.


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