Female Reproduction terms to memorize







The first kidneys; reabsorbed early in the embryo’s development


The middle kidneys – colonized by germ cells to become the gonads

Mesonephric ducts or Wolffian ducts

These carried urine from the mesonephros to the bladder. In males, they will become the vas deferens.

Paramesonephric ducts or Mullerian ducts

These ducts lie beside the mesonephros. In females they will become the oviducts and uterus.

Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)

Released from the hypothalamus at puberty. Causes the pituitary to release FSH and LH

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Causes the cells around the ovarian follicles to create androgens

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

Causes the ovarian follicles to begin developing and convert the androgens to estrogen. Also causes cells in the follicle to produce more FSH and LH receptors.


The hormone that is released by the follicles. It causes the lining of the uterus to begin growing and become thicker, with many new blood vessels in it.

Proliferative phase

The phase during which the cells in the uterus lining are dividing and growing.

Selection of dominant follicle

While many follicles start to develop, the one with the most FSH receptors will develop fastest and this is the one that will produce an egg.

Follicular phase

The phase during which the follicle is growing and maturing

Pulsatile release of GnRH

Women release GnRH in pulses rather than in a steady release. The rate of these pulses is thought to affect whether the pituitary releases FSH or LH in response.

Negative feedback control

Moderate levels of estrogen have a negative feedback effect on the hypothalamus (stops GnRH release) and pituitary (stops FSH and LH release).


The developing follicles produce this, and it helps to lower FSH levels.

Positive feedback control

Sustained high levels of estrogen stimulate the hypothalamus to release more GnRH. This causes an increase in FSH and LH

LH surge

The rapid increase in LH which causes the follicle to burst open


The developed follicle breaks open, releasing the egg into the peritoneal cavity

Corpus luteum (‘cheesy body’)

After the egg is released, the follicle cells become this secretory structure and begin to make progesterone


Means ‘for pregnancy.’ This hormone causes the uterus to develop a soft, spongy lining so a fertilized egg could implant.

Secretory phase

The phase in which the uterine lining is becoming soft

Negative feedback control

High estrogen and progesterone levels cause the hypothalamus to stop secreting GnRH, and the pituitary to stop releasing FSH and LH.


Without GnRH, FSH, and LH, the estrogen levels drop and the corpus luteum stops secreting progesterone. As a result, the uterine lining dies and is shed.