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Major content provider: U.S. National Cancer Institute

The Reproductive System: Introduction

The major function of the reproductive system is to ensure survival of the species. Other systems in the body, such as the endocrine and urinary systems, work continuously to maintain homeostasis for survival of the individual. An individual may live a long, healthy, and happy life without producing offspring, but if the species is to continue, at least some individuals must produce offspring.

Within the context of producing offspring, the reproductive system has four functions:

  • To produce egg and sperm cells
  • To transport and sustain these cells
  • To nurture the developing offspring
  • To produce hormones

These functions are divided between the primary and secondary, or accessory, reproductive organs. The primary reproductive organs, or gonads, consist of the ovaries and testes. These organs are responsible for producing the egg and sperm cells, (gametes), and for producing hormones. These hormones function in the maturation of the reproductive system, the development of sexual characteristics, and have important roles in regulating the normal physiology of the reproductive system. All other organs, ducts, and glands in the reproductive system are considered secondary, or accessory, reproductive organs. These structures transport and sustain the gametes and nurture the developing offspring.

Click the hyper-links below to learn more about the male and female reproductive systems.

  • Male Reproductive System
  • Female Reproductive System

 

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015