REPRODUCTION GLOSSARY Back to the main reproduction page

Abdomen-the part of the body below the chest; it contains the digestive and internal sex organs of the male and female

Acrosome- the part of a sperm cell that contains an enzyme - This enables a sperm cell to penetrate an egg. (Egg cell = big…. Sperm cell = small)

Afterbirth-placenta and fetal membrane expelled from the uterus after the birth of a baby

Amniotic sac-fluid-filled membrane or sac that surrounds the developing embryo while in the uterus; also "bag of waters". The amniotic sac protects the baby from hard shocks and keeps it at a constant temperature.

Anus-opening through which solid wastes are eliminated from the body

"Bag of waters"-synonym for amniotic sac

"Belly button"-synonym for navel. This is where umbilical cord was attached to baby.

Birth-the process of being born; the process by which a baby moves from the uterus into the outside world

Bladder-the organ that stores urine

Blastocyst = blastula = early stage of an embryo; a liquid-filled sphere whose wall is composed of a single layer of cells; during this stage (about eight days after fertilization) implantation in the wall of the uterus occurs.

Caesarian section-the surgical removal of a baby by an incision through the abdominal and uterine walls

Cervix- the lower part, or neck, of the uterus. It is an opening to the uterus. Sperm must pass through the cervix when going from the vagina into the uterus. The cervix closes during pregnancy.

Chromosome-one of the 46 small thread-like structures in the nucleus of a human cell; Chromosome pairs carry the genes, or hereditary characteristics

Circumcision- The act of excising or amputating the foreskin or prepuce from the penis

Climax-synonym for orgasm

Clitoris-small, sensitive organ in front of the vagina

Coitus-synonym for sexual intercourse

Conception-fertilization of an egg cell by a sperm cell

Corpus Luteum - After ovulation, this crater-like structure produces progesterone and estrogen. The corpus luteum is the old follicle. It means “yellow body”.

Cowper's glands - 2 glands that secrete an oily liquid, which cleans and lubricates the urethra of the male

Egg cell-a female sex cell (female gamete or ovum)

Ejaculation-the discharge of semen from the penis

Embryo-the unborn child developing in the uterus between the second and eighth weeks of life

Endometrium - the lining for the uterus – this is where the blastocyst implants and develops.

Epididymis-the tightly coiled tube at the back at each testis that holds newly created sperm – each epididymis is like a nursery where sperm mature and learn to swim.

Erection-the condition of the penis when it fills with blood and becomes firm, enlarged, and erect.

Fallopian tubes -tubes leading from each ovary to the uterus. These tubes carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus. Fertilization occurs here. Also known as the oviducts.

Fimbria - A fimbria (plural fimbriae) is a Latin word that literally means "fringe." a fringe of tissue near the ovary leading to the fallopian tube

Fertile- able to conceive a child

Fertilization-the union of a sperm and an egg. Conception.

Fertilized egg-an egg after a sperm has united with it. Zygote

Fetus-the unborn child developing in the uterus after the first eight weeks of life

Follicle - These are found in the ovaries. Each holds and nourishes an egg until ovulation. It is like a nest. Will become corpus luteum after ovulation.

Foreskin – A sheath of skin that surrounds the penis. The foreskin can be thought of as a continuation of the tube of skin that covers the shaft of the penis, but much longer. This tube of skin is firmly attached only at the base of the penis and at the head of the penis.

FSH - Follicle Stimulating Hormone - This hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland in both men and women. In women, FSH promotes the development of eggs and estrogen. In men, FSH promotes the development of sperm cells.

Fraternal twins-babies that develop from two eggs, each fertilized by a sperm cell; may or may not be of the same sex

Gamete – a sex cell. Sperm cells and egg cells are gametes.

Gene-A unit of heredity; a segment of DNA or RNA that is transmitted from one generation to the next, and that carries genetic information such as the sequence of amino acids for a protein.

Genitals-the reproductive or sex organs, especially the external organs

Germ Cell- An egg or sperm cell. A gamete. In humans, a germ cell contains 23 chromosomes

Hormones-chemical substances produced by the endocrine glands; they act in other parts of the body and affect maturation, growth, and behavior; LH, FSH, GH, Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone are all hormones. 

Hymen-a thin bit of tissue, or membrane that may partially cover the opening of the vagina

Inguinal canal - This is the doorway through which testicles pass into the scrotum just before birth. This is also the site of a possible hernia if the area doesn't completely close off.

Identical twins-babies that develop from a single fertilized egg that separates into two halves; identical twins are always of the same sex

Labia-two folds of skin surrounding the entrance of the vagina

Labor-the muscular contractions that expel a baby from the uterus during childbirth

Leydig Cells – when prompted by LH, Leydig cells create testosterone.

LH - Luteinizing Hormone - This hormone is secreted from the pituitary gland and causes ovulation and the formation of the corpus Luteum in women. In men, LH causes the Leydig cells to produce testosterone.

Menstrual cycle-the periodic building up and sloughing off of the lining of the uterus approximately every twenty-eight days

Menstruation-the periodic discharge of blood and waste material from the uterus

Miscarriage-expulsion from the uterus of a fetus before it is developed sufficiently to live; also spontaneous abortion

Myometrium – muscles of the uterus that stretch to accommodate the growth of the baby. These muscles contract during labor and push baby out…

Navel-a small scar or depression on the abdomen, where the umbilical cord was attached to the baby; also "belly button"

Orgasm-the peak of sexual excitement when the male ejaculates semen, and when a series of muscular contractions of the walls of the vagina occur in a female; also climax

Ovary-one of the two female sex glands; they produce egg cells, estrogen and progesterone.

Ovulation-the discharge, or release, of an egg cell from the ovary

Ovum-scientific name for an egg cell

Oxytocin - A short polypeptide hormone, C43H66N12O12S2, released from the pituitary gland that stimulates the contraction of the myometrium of the uterus during labor and facilitates ejection of milk from the breast during nursing.

Penis-the male sex organ through which sperm cells leave the body; it also discharges urine

Pituitary Gland - small oval endocrine gland that lies at the base of the brain. It is sometimes called the master gland of the body because all the other endocrine glands depend on its secretions for stimulation. It secretes FSH and LH.

Placenta- network of blood vessels and other tissues by which the unborn child is attached to the wall of the uterus. This grows out of the endometrium and functions as lungs, liver, kidneys and digestive tract for the baby until birth. The umbilical cord is attached to it. It is the interface between mother and developing fetus.

Pregnancy-the process in a woman from conception to birth

Pregnant-the condition of a woman with an embryo or fetus in her uterus

Premature baby-a baby born weighing less than five pounds, usually at seven or eight months

Progesterone – The hormone of pregnancy, which is first produced by the corpus luteum and then by the placenta. Progesterone increases the lining of the endometrium. It maintains pregnancy and helps to develop mammary glands.

Prostate gland- an organ that surrounds the upper end of the male urethra and produces part of the fluid that mixes with the sperm to form semen. Prostate fluid is alkaline and helps to protect sperm from vaginal acids.

Rectum-lower part of the large intestine

Scrotum-the pouch of loose skin containing the testes. This houses and air-conditions the testicles by moving and sweating.

Semen-the mixture of sperm and fluids that appears at ejaculation. Semen is comprised of sperm, fructose, prostate fluid and oil from the Cowper’s gland.

Seminal vesicles-small saclike organs opening into each vas deferens near the upper end of the urethra; they produce part of the fluid that mixes with the sperm to form semen; they provide food (fructose) for the sperm.

Seminiferous tubules - tubes found in the testes that produce sperm

Sexual intercourse-the entry of the penis into the vagina and the subsequent release of semen; also coitus

Sperm-the male sex cell (male gamete or spermatozoon), which contains 23 chromosomes in humans.

Spermatozoon-scientific name for sperm

Spontaneous abortion--synonym for miscarriage

Somatic Cell = Body cell that contains 46 chromosomes in humans.

Testes-the two male sex glands; they produce sperm cells and testosterone; Testes = testicles

Testicles-synonym for testes

Testosterone – male hormone that regulates the development of the penis, muscles, body hair, etc…

Tubule-one of the many coiled, threadlike tubes within the testes

Umbilical cord-the ropelike structure connecting the embryo or fetus to the placenta within the uterus – food, oxygen and other resources are delivered to the embryo/fetus. Carbon dioxide and other wastes are carried away.

Urethra-the tube through which urine is expelled from the bladder in both males and females and through which semen leaves the male body

Uterus-the hollow pear-shaped organ in which a baby develops before it is born; also womb

Vagina-the passage from the uterus to the outside of the body. This accepts the penis during intercourse. It is also the birth canal. Menstrual fluids leave through this structure too.

Vas deferens-the tube extending from each epididymis to the urethra

Womb-synonym for uterus

X chromosome-one of the pair of sex chromosomes; one in every egg cell, one in half of all sperm cells; two in each body cell of a female

XX chromosomes-the sex chromosome pattern for a girl

XY chromosomes-the sex chromosome pattern for a boy

Y chromosome-one of the pair of sex chromosomes; found only in males; one in half of all sperm cells

Yolk sac-a structure that develops for the nutrition of the embryo during early embryonic life and then ceases to function

Zygote - The cell formed by the union of two gametes, especially a fertilized ovum before cleavage.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ – Noise depicted in comic books when characters are asleep.


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