Human Reproductive Anatomy and Gametogenesis

Free Response

Describe the phases of the human sexual response.


In phase one (excitement), vasodilation leads to vasocongestion and enlargement of erectile tissues. Vaginal secretions are released to lubricate the vagina during intercourse. In phase two (plateau), stimulation continues, the outer third of the vaginal wall enlarges with blood, and breathing and heart rate increase. In phase three (orgasm), rhythmic, involuntary contractions of muscles occur. In the male, reproductive accessory glands and tubules constrict, depositing semen in the urethra; then, the urethra contracts, expelling the semen through the penis. In women, the uterus and vaginal muscles contract in waves that may last slightly less than a second each. In phase four (resolution), the processes listed in the first three phases reverse themselves and return to their normal state. Men experience a refractory period in which they cannot maintain an erection or ejaculate for a period of time ranging from minutes to hours. Women do not experience a refractory period.

Compare spermatogenesis and oogenesis as to timing of the processes and the number and type of cells finally produced.


Stem cells are laid down in the male during gestation and lie dormant until adolescence. Stem cells in the female increase to one to two million and enter the first meiotic division and are arrested in prophase. At adolescence, spermatogenesis begins and continues until death, producing the maximum number of sperm with each meiotic division. Oogenesis continues again at adolescence in batches of oogonia with each menstrual cycle. These oogonia finish the first meiotic division, producing a primary oocyte with most of the cytoplasm and its contents, and a second cell called a polar body containing 23 chromosomes. The second meiotic division results in a secondary oocyte and a second oocyte. At ovulation, a mature haploid egg is released. If this egg is fertilized, it finishes the second meiotic division, including the chromosomes donated by the sperm in the finished cell. This is a diploid, fertilized egg.