Author: Ariel Terrani (Medical Student / Website Developer)
The purpose of this article is to explain the anatomy of the ovaries, the uterus, the uterine tubes, the cervix, the vagina, and ligaments to better understand their role in the female reproductive system. This article is intended to be read by those in the medical field, as it requires knowledge of medical terminology.
The overies develop high on the posterior abdominal wall and then descend before birth. Unlike the testes, the ovaries do not migrate through the inguinal canal. The ovaries are also the site of egg production, which is known as oogenesis. The ovaries lie adjacent to the lateral pelvic wall, just inferior to the pelvic inlet. They are suspended by the mesovarium (post extension of the broad ligament).
The uterus is a thick-wall muscular organ located between the bladder and the rectum. The ovaries are composed of a body and a cervix that join the vagina. The superior end of the uterus is known as the fundus. The body of the uterus is shaped like an inverted triangle, from the anterior view. Implantation normally occurs within the body of the uterus, specifically, within the endometrium.
The uterine tubes extend from each side of the superior end of the body of the uterus to the lateral pelvic wall. The uterine tubes are suspended from the posterior aspect of the broad ligaments and terminate laterally to the ovaries. The uterine tubes also have an expanded trumpet-shaped end, which is known as the infundibulum, which curves around the superolateral pole of the related ovary (rimmed with fimbrae). Medial to the infundibulum, the tube expands, forming the ampulla and then narrows down, forming the isthmus. Fertilization occurs in the ampulla.
The cervix forms the inferior portion of the uterus. It is angled forward (anteverted) on the vagina so that the inferior end of the cervix projects into the upper anterior aspect of the vagina. The cervix bulges into the vagina and the fornix is formed around the margins of the cervix where it joins the vaginal wall.
The vagina is a distensible fibromuscular tube that ends from the perineum, goes through the pelvic floor, and finally into the pelvic cavity. The end of the canal is enlarged, forming a region known as the vaginal vault. Anterior to the vagina is the base of the bladder and the urethera. Posterior to the vagina is the rectum. The external opening of the vagina is known as the introitus. The vaginal fornix is the recess that is formed between the margin of the cervix and the vaginal wall. Normally, it is collapsed, so that the anterior wall is touching the posterior wall. With a vaginal speculum, our physicians can see the inferior end of the cervix, the vaginal fornices, and the external os. Semen is deposited in the vaginal vault.
The ligament function within the system are to stabilize the uterus in the pelvic cavity. The rectovaginal septum separates the posterior surface of the vagina from the rectum. The pubocervical ligament is an extension of the fascia from the cervix to the front. The transverse cervical ligament, or cardinal ligament, is located laterally. The uterosacral ligament is located posteriorly.