The relationship between structure and function of the male and female reproductive systems

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Human Reproductive Biology

TAQ 1- Explain the relationship between structure and function of the male and female reproductive systems- criteria 1.1

Sperm is the male gamete, a haploid cell created through the process of spermatogenesis. It is produced in the two testes. Four sperm cells, with 23 chromosomes in each are created via spermatogonia. Ova, the female gametes, are produced in the two ovaries and also contain 23 chromosomes each. At the end of the process of oogenesis, four haploid cells are created from oogonia and contain 3 polar bodies, the polar bodies are disregarded leaving one haploid cell, an ovum.

During reproduction sperm is carried down the penis in two tubes called vas deferens. It travels and is mixed with seminal fluid in the seminal vesicles and passes into the prostate gland adding nutrients to the sperm. It will then travel down the urethra and out of the penis.

When the penis is in the women’s vagina, sperm will travel into the woman’s cervix. It will travel through the uterus and into one of two fallopian tubes. If ovulation has taken place, it will meet a mature ovum, this has been ejected by one of the ovaries into the fallopian tube it is attached to.

When the sperm and ovum fuse together, fertilisation has occurred and a zygote has been created, this will become a blastocyst and will implant into the wall of the uterus during conception. It then grows in an embryo and eventually develops and grows into a foetus.

TAQ 2- Explain the role of hormonal control in

Source of hormone





Responsible for the development in size of sex organs such as the testes and penis. It is needed for the production of sperm through sertoli cells.


Gonadotropin-releasing hormone

Stimulates the release of LH and FSH. When higher levels of oestrogen are detected in the bloodstream by the hypothalamus, more GnRH is released causing the pituitary gland to release a large amount of LH.

Anterior Pituitary

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)

It works together with LH, beginning the ovarian cycle continuing the development of follicles in the ovaries so that they release an egg, as these follicles grow they release oestrogen.

It promotes the development of the seminiferous tubules within the testes that produce sperm.

Anterior Pituitary

Luteinising hormone (LH)

Large amounts are released when oestrogen is detected in the blood, midway through the ovarian cycle triggering ovulation. Remaining follicles group together forming the corpus luteum. This causes the secretion of oestrogen and progesterone.



Compliments progesterone by preparing the body for pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus, bringing more nutrients to it.



The levels increase during pregnancy, increasing blood flow to the womb and ensuring the walls of the uterus do not contract too early. It also builds up the muscle of the pelvic wall.


Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

Released if fertilisation has taken place. It helps maintain the pregnancy, levels increase up until 14 weeks and then slowly decrease steadily. It also promotes the release of luteinising hormone. Ensures the production of oestrogen and progesterone carries on so that they can continue to provide nutrients to the uterus until the placenta has formed which will take over the job.

the human reproductive system- criteria 1.2

TAQ 3- Critically evaluate the advantages and disadvantages o

Method of contraception

Evaluation of advantages

Evaluation of disadvantages

Final evaluation


Condoms are seen as an advantage as they are the only method of contraception that can prevent both pregnancy and some sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.

2 out of 100 women will become pregnant each year, even when the condom is used correctly.

As condoms are available to under 16 year olds it could be a way of improving under age pregnancies but may be a way of encouraging under age sex.


It contains hormones which not only prevent pregnancy but reduce the risk of some cancers. A big advantage as it acts as not only a contraceptive but a cancer preventative drug.

It can increase the risk of cervical cancer as women may not use condoms and this would mean they are at risk of catching HPV which is a risk factor for cervical cancer.

The pill may be viewed as a method of contraception that doesn’t interrupt sex the way a condom can but it still carries the risk of catching an STI from not using condoms.

Coitus interuptus

The couple only have to ensure they are aware of when to male needs to withdrawn his penis from the woman’s vagina, ensuring that sperm will not enter the woman.

It may not be a successful method as there has been some research to suggest that sperm can be found in the fluid produced before ejaculation.

Not having to use any form of man made contraceptives may be viewed as a positive for some couples but awareness of when the male needs to withdraw his penis followed with a possibility that sperm has entered the woman may outweigh the benefits.

Intrauterine divise

This is a long term method of contraception and once it is fitted in the womb it works immediately and can last for up to 10 years, an advantage as there wouldn’t be a need to remember to take contraceptives such as the pill.

The use of this device can in some cases lead to damage to the womb and a is a risk of pelvic infection.

Although it can prevent a woman from getting pregnant it doesn’t give any protection again STI’s so another form of contraception would possibly have to be used too.

Rhythm method

It is natural and involves keeping a daily record of signs of fertility. It doesn’t involve the use of drugs or any other man made device.

The patience and commitment to use this system could be overwhelming for some people.

Not having to put chemicals into the body and be able to be as natural as possible could be a great advantage but the chances of getting pregnant can be high if a person isn’t accurate with tracking important fertility signs.

f different methods of contraception-criteria 2.1

TAQ 4- Describe the range of common genetic conditions- criteria 3.1

Huntingtons disease

Huntington’s disease is an autosomal dominant condition, this means that if either parent is carrying the gene, their offspring will have this condition.

The disease is caused by a fault in chromosome 4, which is responsible for the coding to produce huntingtin, a sequence called CAG repeat is followed. If it goes over 40 times this increases the amount of amino acids called glutamine making huntingtin mildly toxic over time. This leads to damage to nerve cells in some areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex.

H represents the dominant huntington’s allele h represents the recessive allele

The punnet square below shows that there would be a 50% chance of their children having Huntington’s disease.

(hh: Father Hh: Mother)









Sickle cell anaemia

A condition caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for the production of haemoglobin and has to be inherited from both parents to get it.

The blood cells become sickle-shaped and contain defective haemoglobin effecting the amount of oxygen that can be carried around the body. They block blood vessels resulting in tissue and organ damage. The abnormal cells die after 10-20 days and can’t be replaced quick enough by the bone marrow which causes anaemia.

S represents the dominant sickle cell anaemia allele. (SS: Father ss: Mother)

s represents the recessive sickle cell anaemia allele.









The punnet square above shows that if one parent is a sufferer, their children would have a 100% chance of being a carrier of the disease.

Cystic fibrosis

It is a condition that is caused by the inability to create the protein CFTR which leads to the mucus in the body becoming thicker than usual,in organs such as the lungs this can block the airways making them more vulnerable to infection. It can lead to a shorted life and is linked to stomach and digestive problems.

C represents the faulty cystic fibrosis allele. (Cc: Father Cc: Mother)

c represents the normal allele.









The punnet square above shows that parents who carry a copy of the faulty allele will have a 25% chance of their child having the disease. There will be a 50% chance that their child will be a carrier and 25% they won’t have the faulty allele.

TAQ 5- Explain the different methods of genetic counselling- criteria 3.2

Genetic testing is a way in which an individual can discover if they have any genetic conditions. It can be used to establishing if a person is a carrier of a genetic mutation that could be passed on to any children they might have and it is a way of deciphering whether or not a person is at risk of developing a certain condition.

Genetic counselling is a way of giving a person direction in a non-bias way without telling them what they should do. Facts and risks of genetic testing are explained in a manner in which an individual or couple have accurate information on different options they can pursue.

When a couple or individual seek the advice of a genetic councillor they can be confident that the genetic councillor is a fully qualified healthcare professional trained in the science of human genetics. They will give the advice and support integral for the possible outcome, whatever it might be. During the counselling session, the genetic councillor will give details about the risks of any genetic conditions being passed down to their children. They will be able to learn about the effects of any conditions that are already in the family will have on their children and the inheritance patters to show who could be affected.

There are different types of genetic testing involved in establishing if a person might be carrying a genetic mutation or if an unborn child may be at risk of any genetic conditions such as sickle cell anaemia, Huntington’s disease and cystic fibrosis.

Prenatal screening tests can help determine health problems that can affect an individual or their unborn child. These can include down’s syndrome or physical abnormalities such as spina bifida. The screening can involve both blood tests and an ultra sound and enable a person to plan ahead for any treatment that may be needed during or after pregnancy. There are not any risks associated with screening tests but it could lead to further diagnostic tests that can be invasive and can be linked to miscarriages. The results obtained from screening tests are not perfect and even if a person is told their baby is low risk, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance that the baby could be affected.

Diagnostic tests such as amniocentesis are invasive and involve a needle extracting amniotic fluid that surrounds the foetus in the womb. This fluid contains cells and can be examined and tested for conditions such as down’s syndrome. Due to how invasive this procedure is, it is only offered to high risk women, such as women over the age of 35 and women who have genetic conditions in their family. It can carry a risk of miscarriage making it a difficult decision for people to make if they want to go through with the testing.

There is a method of testing known as predictive genetic testing. This method may not be an accurate way of finding out if their is a potential risk of conditions such as ovarian and prostate cancer as a positive result doesn’t necessarily mean a person will get the disease, it means the person is high risk. It if offered to people, for example that have a history of altered BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes which are high risk cancer genes. These genes can be passed on to family members which means if their is history in the family, the test may be offered to you.

The benefits of this method enable an individual to make life changes that can reduce the risk of getting cancer. A problem with being aware that you are high risk is that it could lead to anxiety and may be seen by an individual that it is better not to know.


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Human Reproductive BiologyPage 1 of 10Laura Robbins