There are many components to women's reproductive health and it can be difficult to work out which part is responsible for which function. This article should help to clarify the different factors involved.
This is a muscle about the size of a fist. It is here that implantation of the fertilised egg happens and where the baby grows and develops. It is the lining of the womb which is sensitive to the different hormones which affect fertility – the lining grows under the influence of oestrogen and becomes stable under the influence of progesterone. It is the fall in progesterone levels which cause the lining of the womb to become unstable and to be shed as a period.
This organ sits at the opening of the womb (at the top of the vagina) and is where smear tests are taken from. The cervix also has small pouches within it (crypts) which is where cervical mucus is produced under the influence of oestrogen. Cervical mucus provides the pathways for sperm to swim to the egg. It starts off as thick and sticky in consistency becoming clear, stretchy and lubricative as ovulation approaches. Women can have a pattern of continuous mucus if they have an oestrogen dominant condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Each woman has 2 ovaries which are located either side of the womb. They produce oestrogen. The ovaries contain approximately 500,000 immature eggs – one of which is selected to develop and grow under the influence of oestrogen ready for ovulation.
The fallopian tubes sit on either side of the womb. This is where fertilisation of egg by sperm happens. It takes 6-9 days from fertilisation to implantation of the fertilised egg into the lining of the womb.