Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Fertility Unit
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Reproduction in Women

The female reproductive system is entirely internal.

The vagina is the canal that leads from the outside of the body to the cervix, the opening of the uterus.

The uterus is the muscular organ where a fertilised egg, or embryo, attaches and develops. It is the size and shape of a pear and lined with a rich and nourishing membrane, the endometrium.

The fallopian tubes extend from the top of the uterus down over the ovaries, the two walnut-sized organs that contain the eggs.

The eggs in each ovary are made before a woman is born. From this time on, the number of eggs will diminish. By the time she has her first period there are about 400,000 eggs remaining.

Every month from puberty to menopause, eggs begin to mature inside several fluid filled 'cysts' within the ovaries, called follicles. Only one of these follicles will become dominant, while the others will shrink and be absorbed by the ovary.

At mid-cycle, the dominant follicle releases a single egg during ovulation, which then travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus.

In normal conception, fertilisation takes place in the fallopian tube. The developing embryo then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it may implant in the endometrium approximately 7 days after ovulation.