Having two of everything is great when you’re talking about eyes, ears, hands and feet. In the female reproductive system, more than one (duplication) of certain organs — like the uterus, cervix, and vagina – is not so good. It is also not good when organs are joined (fusion) together.
What causes these rare cases?
The information here should help you learn what to do if your child's doctor finds an "anomaly of fusion and duplication."
How do genitalia normally form?
Sex organs form with three basic steps:
- The chromosomal sex is set when the sperm fertilizes the egg. An XX pair means that the baby is female. An XY pair means that the baby is male.
- Next, the gonads (sex glands) become either testis for a boy or ovaries for a girl.
- Then, the inner reproductive system, and outer genitals form. They grow with hormones from the testis or ovaries.
At conception, the mother gives an X chromosome and the father an X or Y chromosome. The combination forms either a female embryo (XX), or a male embryo (XY). At this point, the male and female embryos look the same.
Embryos start with two gonads. They can become either testes or ovaries. Each embryo also starts with both male and female inner genital structures. They become male OR female reproductive structures. For girls, very little change is needed for outer sex organs to look normal. The vagina develops right away, before the ovaries have fully formed.
All of these steps take place during the first three months of pregnancy. After that, the outer sex organs are formed. They look like those of a full-term girl or boy (apart from their size).
How do the female reproductive organs work?
Female Reproductive System
There are several functions of the female reproductive system. The ovaries make the female egg cells, called the ova or oocytes. The oocytes are then transported to the fallopian tube where an egg may get fertilized by a sperm. The fertilized egg then moves to the uterus, where the uterine lining has thickened. The lining has thickened in response to the normal hormones of the reproductive cycle. The fertilized egg can implant into thickened uterine lining and continues to develop. If fertilization does not take place, the uterine lining is shed as menstrual flow.
In addition, the female reproductive system produces female sex hormones that maintain the reproductive cycle.
During menopause the female reproductive system slowly stops making the female hormones needed for the reproductive cycle to work. At this point, menstrual cycles can become irregular and will stop. One year after menstrual cycles stop, the woman is said to be menopausal.
The female reproductive anatomy includes both external and internal structures.
The function of the external female reproductive structures (the genital) is twofold: To enable sperm to enter the body and to protect the internal genital organs from infectious organisms. The main external structures of the female reproductive system include:
- Labia Majora
- Labia minora
- Bartholin Glands
The internal female reproductive anatomy includes:
- Uterus (Womb)
- Fallopian Tubes