The female reproductive system consists of the external genital organs Female External Genital Organs The external genital structures include the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, and clitoris. The area containing these structures is called the vulva. The external genital structures have... read more and internal genital organs Female Internal Genital Organs The internal genital organs form a pathway (the genital tract). This pathway consists of the following: Vagina (part of the birth canal), where sperm are deposited and from which a baby can... read more . Other parts of the body also affect the development and functioning of the reproductive system. They include the following:
Hypothalamus (an area of the brain)
Pituitary gland Overview of the Pituitary Gland The pituitary is a pea-sized gland that is housed within a bony structure (sella turcica) at the base of the brain. The sella turcica protects the pituitary but allows very little room for expansion... read more (located at the base of the brain, directly below the hypothalamus)
The hypothalamus orchestrates the interactions among the genital organs, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands to regulate the female reproductive system (see figure Major Endocrine Glands Major Endocrine Glands ). These parts of the body interact with each other by releasing hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that control and coordinate activities in the body.
The hypothalamus produces gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. These hormones stimulate the ovaries to produce the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and some male sex hormones (androgens). (Male sex hormones stimulate the growth of pubic and underarm hair at puberty Puberty in Girls Puberty is a sequence of events in which physical changes occur, resulting in adult physical characteristics and capacity to reproduce. These physical changes are regulated by changes in the... read more and maintain muscle mass in girls as well as boys.) After childbirth, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to produce prolactin, a hormone that stimulates milk production.
The adrenal glands produce small amounts of female and male sex hormones.
Major Endocrine Glands
The major glands of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the islet cells of the pancreas, the adrenal glands, the testes in men, and the ovaries in women.