7-11-4. Human Reproductive Anatomy and Gametogenesis
As animals became more complex, specific organs and organ systems developed to support specific functions for the organism. The reproductive structures that evolved in land animals allow males and females to mate, fertilize internally, and support the growth and development of offspring.
Human Reproductive Anatomy
The reproductive tissues of male and female humans develop similarly in utero until a low level of the hormone testosterone is released from male gonads. Testosterone causes the undeveloped tissues to differentiate into male sexual organs. When testosterone is absent, the tissues develop into female sexual tissues. Primitive gonads become testes or ovaries. Tissues that produce a penis in males produce a clitoris in females. The tissue that will become the scrotum in a male becomes the labia in a female; that is, they are homologous structures.
Male Reproductive Anatomy
In the male reproductive system, the
Sperm are immobile at body temperature; therefore, the scrotum and penis are external to the body, as illustrated in Figure 1 so that a proper temperature is maintained for motility. In land mammals, the pair of testes must be suspended outside the body at about 2° C lower than body temperature to produce viable sperm. Infertility can occur in land mammals when the testes do not descend through the abdominal cavity during fetal development.
Which of the following statements about the male reproductive system is false?
Sperm mature in
When the sperm have developed flagella and are nearly mature, they leave the testicles and enter the epididymis, shown in Figure 1. This structure resembles a comma and lies along the top and posterior portion of the testes; it is the site of sperm maturation. The sperm leave the epididymis and enter the vas deferens (or ductus deferens), which carries the sperm, behind the bladder, and forms the ejaculatory duct with the duct from the seminal vesicles. During a vasectomy, a section of the vas deferens is removed, preventing sperm from being passed out of the body during ejaculation and preventing fertilization.
The bulk of the semen comes from the accessory glands associated with the male reproductive system. These are the seminal vesicles, the prostate gland, and the bulbourethral gland, all of which are illustrated in Figure 1. The
Table 1. Male Reproductive Anatomy
Female Reproductive Anatomy
A number of reproductive structures are exterior to the female’s body. These include the breasts and the vulva, which consists of the mons pubis, clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, and the vestibular glands, all illustrated in Figure 3. The location and functions of the female reproductive organs are summarized in Table 2. The vulva is an area associated with the vestibule which includes the structures found in the inguinal (groin) area of women. The mons pubis is a round, fatty area that overlies the pubic symphysis. The
Table 2. Female Reproductive Anatomy
The breasts consist of mammary glands and fat. The size of the breast is determined by the amount of fat deposited behind the gland. Each gland consists of 15 to 25 lobes that have ducts that empty at the nipple and that supply the nursing child with nutrient- and antibody-rich milk to aid development and protect the child.
Internal female reproductive structures include ovaries, oviducts, the
The uterus is a structure about the size of a woman’s fist. This is lined with an endometrium rich in blood vessels and mucus glands. The uterus supports the developing embryo and fetus during gestation. The thickest portion of the wall of the uterus is made of smooth muscle. Contractions of the smooth muscle in the uterus aid in passing the baby through the vagina during labor. A portion of the lining of the uterus sloughs off during each menstrual period, and then builds up again in preparation for an implantation. Part of the uterus, called the cervix, protrudes into the top of the vagina. The cervix functions as the birth canal.
Sexual Response during Intercourse
The sexual response in humans is both psychological and physiological. Both sexes experience sexual arousal through psychological and physical stimulation. There are four phases of the sexual response. During phase one, called excitement, vasodilation leads to vasocongestion in erectile tissues in both men and women. The nipples, clitoris, labia, and penis engorge with blood and become enlarged. Vaginal secretions are released to lubricate the vagina to facilitate intercourse. During the second phase, called the plateau, stimulation continues, the outer third of the vaginal wall enlarges with blood, and breathing and heart rate increase.
During phase three, or orgasm, rhythmic, involuntary contractions of muscles occur in both sexes. In the male, the reproductive accessory glands and tubules constrict placing semen in the urethra, then the urethra contracts expelling the semen through the penis. In women, the uterus and vaginal muscles contract in waves that may last slightly less than a second each. During phase four, or resolution, the processes described in the first three phases reverse themselves and return to their normal state. Men experience a refractory period in which they cannot maintain an erection or ejaculate for a period of time ranging from minutes to hours.
Gametogenesis (Spermatogenesis and Oogenesis)
Gametogenesis, the production of sperm and eggs, takes place through the process of meiosis. During meiosis, two cell divisions separate the paired chromosomes in the nucleus and then separate the chromatids that were made during an earlier stage of the cell’s life cycle. Meiosis produces haploid cells with half of each pair of chromosomes normally found in diploid cells. The production of sperm is called
Spermatogenesis, illustrated in Figure 5, occurs in the wall of the seminiferous tubules (Figure 1), with stem cells at the periphery of the tube and the spermatozoa at the lumen of the tube. Immediately under the capsule of the tubule are diploid, undifferentiated cells. These stem cells, called spermatogonia (singular: spermatagonium), go through mitosis with one offspring going on to differentiate into a sperm cell and the other giving rise to the next generation of sperm.
Meiosis starts with a cell called a primary spermatocyte. At the end of the first meiotic division, a haploid cell is produced called a secondary spermatocyte. This cell is haploid and must go through another meiotic cell division. The cell produced at the end of meiosis is called a spermatid and when it reaches the lumen of the tubule and grows a flagellum, it is called a sperm cell. Four sperm result from each primary spermatocyte that goes through meiosis.
Stem cells are deposited during gestation and are present at birth through the beginning of adolescence, but in an inactive state. During adolescence, gonadotropic hormones from the anterior pituitary cause the activation of these cells and the production of viable sperm. This continues into old age.
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Oogenesis, illustrated in Figure 6, occurs in the outermost layers of the ovaries. As with sperm production, oogenesis starts with a germ cell, called an oogonium (plural: oogonia), but this cell undergoes mitosis to increase in number, eventually resulting in up to about one to two million cells in the embryo.
The cell starting meiosis is called a primary oocyte, as shown in Figure 6. This cell will start the first meiotic division and be arrested in its progress in the first prophase stage. At the time of birth, all future eggs are in the prophase stage. At adolescence, anterior pituitary hormones cause the development of a number of follicles in an ovary. This results in the primary oocyte finishing the first meiotic division. The cell divides unequally, with most of the cellular material and organelles going to one cell, called a secondary oocyte, and only one set of chromosomes and a small amount of cytoplasm going to the other cell. This second cell is called a polar body and usually dies. A secondary meiotic arrest occurs, this time at the metaphase II stage. At ovulation, this secondary oocyte will be released and travel toward the uterus through the oviduct. If the secondary oocyte is fertilized, the cell continues through the meiosis II, producing a second polar body and a fertilized egg containing all 46 chromosomes of a human being, half of them coming from the sperm.
Egg production begins before birth, is arrested during meiosis until puberty, and then individual cells continue through at each menstrual cycle. One egg is produced from each meiotic process, with the extra chromosomes and chromatids going into polar bodies that degenerate and are reabsorbed by the body.
As animals became more complex, specific organs and organ systems developed to support specific functions for the organism. The reproductive structures that evolved in land animals allow males and females to mate, fertilize internally, and support the growth and development of offspring. Processes developed to produce reproductive cells that had exactly half the number of chromosomes of each parent so that new combinations would have the appropriate amount of genetic material. Gametogenesis, the production of sperm (spermatogenesis) and eggs (oogenesis), takes place through the process of meiosis.
Figure 1. Which of the following statements about the male reproductive system is false?
Figure 1. D
Sperm are produced in the ________.
Most of the bulk of semen is made by the ________.
Which of the following cells in spermatogenesis is diploid?
Which female organ has the same embryonic origin as the penis?
Which female organ has an endometrial lining that will support a developing baby?
How many eggs are produced as a result of one meiotic series of cell divisions?
Describe the phases of the human sexual response.
In phase one (excitement), vasodilation leads to vasocongestion and enlargement of erectile tissues. Vaginal secretions are released to lubricate the vagina during intercourse. In phase two (plateau), stimulation continues, the outer third of the vaginal wall enlarges with blood, and breathing and heart rate increase. In phase three (orgasm), rhythmic, involuntary contractions of muscles occur. In the male, reproductive accessory glands and tubules constrict, depositing semen in the urethra; then, the urethra contracts, expelling the semen through the penis. In women, the uterus and vaginal muscles contract in waves that may last slightly less than a second each. In phase four (resolution), the processes listed in the first three phases reverse themselves and return to their normal state. Men experience a refractory period in which they cannot maintain an erection or ejaculate for a period of time ranging from minutes to hours. Women do not experience a refractory period.
Compare spermatogenesis and oogenesis as to timing of the processes and the number and type of cells finally produced.
Stem cells are laid down in the male during gestation and lie dormant until adolescence. Stem cells in the female increase to one to two million and enter the first meiotic division and are arrested in prophase. At adolescence, spermatogenesis begins and continues until death, producing the maximum number of sperm with each meiotic division. Oogenesis continues again at adolescence in batches of oogonia with each menstrual cycle. These oogonia finish the first meiotic division, producing a primary oocyte with most of the cytoplasm and its contents, and a second cell called a polar body containing 23 chromosomes. The second meiotic division results in a secondary oocyte and a second oocyte. At ovulation, a mature haploid egg is released. If this egg is fertilized, it finishes the second meiotic division, including the chromosomes donated by the sperm in the finished cell. This is a diploid, fertilized egg.