The uterus

The uterus is part of the female reproductive system. It is also called the womb. The uterus is about the size and shape of an upside-down pear. The uterus sits quite low in the pelvis (below the abdomen, behind the pubic bone) and is held there lightly by muscle. The uterus is joined to the vagina by the cervix, or neck of the uterus.

Each month, in women who are able to have children, hormones are released in the body that cause ovulation and periods (menstruation).

In ovulation, an egg travels from one of the ovaries down the fallopian tube. If the egg is fertilised, it implants in the lining of the uterus, where it grows into a baby.

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. The endometrium is made up of several layers that include skin-like cells (surface epithelium), blood vessels, tissue spaces and glands. Each month the endometrium grows thicker to prepare for pregnancy. If a woman does not become pregnant, the top layers of the endometrium are shed and flow out through the vagina in the monthly period.

Menopause is when a woman’s periods stop and she is no longer able to have a baby. Her body stops releasing the hormones that cause ovulation and periods.

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