Reproduction is the process by which new individual organisms (offspring) are produced from their parents. Reproduction is a fundamental feature of all life. Each individual organism exists as the result of reproduction. Reproduction is one of the properties which distinguishes living things from non-living things.
There are two forms of reproduction:
Asexual reproduction: In asexual reproduction, the organisms create genetically similar or identical copies of themselves without the contribution of genetic material from another organism. Example: Bacteria reproduce through asexual reproduction by binary fission.
Sexual reproduction: In sexual reproduction, a new organism is produced by the combination of genetic material from a male and a female. The offspring is produced by fusion of gametes i.e. the female’s ovum (or egg) and a male’s sperm. Example: Humans and other mammals reproduce by sexual reproduction.
Humans have a high level of sexual differentiation. Male and female sexual organs differ both anatomically and physiologically. Males and females also differ in secondary sexual characteristics.
The human reproductive system involves internal fertilization by sexual intercourse. Upon fertilization, the fertilized ovum, or zygote, travels out of the fallopian tube and into the uterus and gets implanted in the uterine wall. This marks the beginning of gestation or pregnancy which continues for nine months.
When the foetus has developed to a certain point, pregnancy is concluded with childbirth. During labour, the muscles of the uterus contract and the cervix dilates and the baby passes out of the vagina.
Human infants need high levels of parental care. Infants rely on their caregivers for comfort, cleanliness, and food.
The male reproductive system has one function, and it is to produce and deposit sperm.
The female reproductive system has two functions:
- Produce egg cells
- Protect and nourish the offspring until birth
Topics in this section
- Female reproductive system
- External genitalia (vulva)
- Internal genitalia
- Uterine tubes (Fallopian tubes)
- Puberty in the female
- The menstrual (sexual) cycle
- Menopause (climacteric)
- Breasts or mammary glands
- Male reproductive organs
- The spermatic cords
- Seminal vesicles
- Ejaculatory ducts
- Prostate glands
- Urethra and penis
- Puberty in the male
- Sexually transmitted disease (venereal disease)
- Diseases of the female reproductive system
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Vulvar dystrophies
- Imperforate hymen
- Disorders of the cervix
- Disorders of the uterine body
- Disorders of the uterine tubes and ovaries
- Female infertility
- Disorders of the breast
- Diseases of the male reproductive system
- Infections of the penis
- Infections of the urethra
- Epididymis and testes
- Prostate gland
- Male infertility