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The Sexual Health Education (SHE) Programme

Structure and Function of the Reproductive Systems


The reproductive system comprises organs inside (Internal) and outside (External) the body. External reproductive organs, also called “Private Parts” of the body, are parts of the body that other people should not see or touch without your consent.


  • The female reproductive system is made up of external and internal organs.
  • The entire female reproductive system is dependent on hormones, which are chemicals that stimulate or regulate the activity of your cells or organs.

Figure 1: Female Reproductive Organs

External Organs

The main external structures of the female reproductive system include:

  • Labia majora: They are the large lip, and they protect the other external reproductive organs.
  • Labia minora: They are small lips located just inside the labia majora and surround the openings to the vagina.
  • Clitoris: It is a small, sensitive protrusion that is similar to the penis in males. A fold of skin covers the clitoris, and like the penis, the clitoris is very sensitive to stimulation and can become erect. The two labia minora meet at the clitoris.

Internal Organs

  • Vagina: The vagina connects the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) to the outside body. It is also known as the birth canal, allowing sperm cells to enter and menstrual blood to exit.
  • Womb: The womb is the organ that houses a developing fetus. The uterus is divided into two parts: the cervix, the lower part that opens into the vagina, and the main body of the uterus, called the corpus. The corpus can easily expand to hold a developing baby.
  • Ovaries: The ovaries are small, oval-shaped, located on both sides of the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs and female sex hormones.
  • Fallopian tubes: They are tubes that connect the womb to the ovaries, and they serve as pathways for the egg cells to travel from the ovaries to the uterus.

Figure 2: Female Reproductive Organs


  • The external organs include the penis, scrotum, and testicles, and the internal organs include the vas deferens, prostate, and urethra.
  • The entire male reproductive system is dependent on hormones, and these are chemicals that stimulate or regulate the activity of your cells or organs.

External Organs


The root: This is the part of the penis that attaches to the lower tummy.

  • The penis has three parts.

The shaft: Shaped like a tube or cylinder, the body of the penis is made up of three internal chambers. It is made up of stretchy tissue that fills with blood during sexual arousal. As the penis fills with blood, it becomes rigid and erect, which allows for penetration during sex. The skin of the penis is loose and elastic, allowing for changes in penis size during an erection.

The glans: This is the head of the penis and is covered with a loose layer of skin called the foreskin. This skin is sometimes removed in a procedure called circumcision. 

Figure 3: Male Reproductive Organs

  • Scrotum and Testicles

The scrotum is a sac of skin that hangs behind the penis. It holds and protects the testicles (also called testes). The testicles are responsible for making testosterone, the main male sex hormone, and for producing sperm cells. The scrotum protects the testes and provides an ideal temperature for normal sperm development (slightly cooler than the body temperature).

Internal Organs

These organs include:

  • Urethra: The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body and expels semen during sexual climax (ejaculating).
  • Vas deferens: The vas deferens is a long tube that transports mature sperm to the urethra in preparation for ejaculation. 
  • Prostate Gland: It is located below the urinary bladder. The prostate gland contributes additional fluid to the ejaculate, and the prostate fluids also help to nourish the sperm cells.
  • Other internal organs include Ejaculatory glands, Seminal vesicles, and Bulbourethral glands.

General Function of the Reproductive System

The reproductive systems (male and female) are responsible for sexual intercourse, conception, and urination.

  • What is Sexual Intercourse?

Sexual intercourse is a physical act between two people that culmuniates in orgasm.

  • What is Conception?

 When sperm is ejaculated into a female’s vagina, millions of sperm “swim” up from the vagina through the cervix and uterus to meet the egg in the fallopian tube. It takes only one sperm to fertilise the egg. Fertilisation of an egg by a sperm occurs typically in the fallopian tubes. The fertilised egg then moves to the uterus, where it implants into the uterine lining. The fertilised egg, called a Zygote, is made of half of the egg and half of the sperm. The zygote grows in the womb, maturing throughout the pregnancy into an embryo, a foetus, and a newborn baby.

  • What is Urination?

 This is what happens when you urinate; urination a the way the body removes excess water and waste from the body.

Written and reviewed by

Dr Elizabeth Ejagwulu (MBBS, GMC-GPST1)

Dr MaryJane Nweje (MBBS, MSc)



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