Anatomy - The Reproductive System
In order for life to go on, all living things must have the ability to reproduce.

Anatomy - The Reproductive System

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One of the most exciting things when growing up as a child is the looking forward to becoming a teenager! Life will be just amazing once you become a teenager – at least that’s what you thought. For the most part, life is great but becoming a teenager or an adolescent comes with some not so fun times as well. In fact, it can be downright awkward as the process of transitioning between childhood and adulthood begins.

Right about now and for the next few years – your hormonal changes will be drastic making you feel totally out of sorts. However, even though hormonal changes bring some confusion they also begin you on the road toward some amazing physiological changes in your body. These changes will allow you to create new life!

In order for life to go on, all living things must have the ability to reproduce. Without this ability, species will go extinct. In addition, in order for life to continue, you must have a male and a female for one cannot reproduce without the other. Both the male and the female are born with a reproductive system but it is not until they reach adolescence and go through puberty (the beginning stages of adolescence) that they will be able to begin to reproduce. So let’s look as some of the terminologies that are associated with both the male reproductive system and the female reproductive system.


  1. Sperm - This is the male sex cell that is produced in the testes. The sperm has three parts: the head that contains the nucleus or control center of the cell; the middle section provide the sperm with energy and, finally, the tail that swishes back and forth allowing the sperm to swim in search of an unfertilized female egg.
  2. Testes – There are two testes where sperm cells are formed and then stored. They are also known as gonads. They produce a hormone called testosterone. During male adolescence and puberty, testosterone causes the male’s voice to deepen, their shoulders to widen and facial and body hairs to grow where they did not grow before.
  3. Scrotum – This is a sac below the male’s abdomen where the testes are found.


  1. Ovary – Females are generally born with two ovaries. The ovaries is where eggs (also called the ovum and is the female sex cell) are produced. The female is born with all of the eggs she will ever have, approximately 400,000 eggs. The ovaries are also considered glands. The ovaries produce a hormone called estrogen which, during female puberty, causes the hips to widen, the breasts to enlarge and body hair to grow.
  2. Uterus – The uterus is a pear-shaped organ that is also known as the womb. It is the organ where a fertilized egg develops. It is about the size of a closed fist.
  3. Fallopian Tubes – These are tubes that are connected to the uterus and channel the egg to the uterus from the ovaries but they are not attached to the ovaries. The egg is fertilized in the Fallopian tubes – not in the uterus.
  4. Vagina – This is a passageway leading to the uterus. It is also often referred to as the birth canal.

Before adolescence, females cannot conceive. This process will not begin until the female begins a monthly cycle known as menstruation. During menstruation, approximately every 28 days one of the ovaries releases an unfertilized egg. (The ovaries alternate each month for releasing an egg.) The unfertilized egg travels down the Fallopian tube (which connects the ovaries to the uterus). The release of the egg is referred to as ovulation. While this process is happening, the uterus changes and fills with blood. If the egg is fertilized by the sperm cell, it will drop into the blood rich uterus and implant itself to the lining of the uterus and no menstruation will occur as the blood will provide protection and nourishment. If the egg is not fertilized, the blood and egg will be released through menstruation.

In order for development to begin the female eggs must be fertilized by the male sperm. Once a sperm enters an egg no other sperms can enter and then a process of meiosis begins. Meiosis is the process of cell division. Humans have 46 chromosomes inside every cell except for the sex cells. The mother provides 23 chromosomes and the father provides 23 chromosomes. The chromosomes pass on inherited traits to the fertilized egg, traits such as hair color, eye color and skin color.

To learn more about the growth and development process of the fertilized egg, check out the quiz on Anatomy: Growth and Development.

Okay, that is a brief introduction on the human reproductive system. Now it’s your turn to see how much you have learned and remember by answering the following ten questions on the reproductive system.

The uterus is the size of ______.
a grain of sand
a closed fist
a walnut
an orange
The uterus is the size of a closed fist. Answer (b) is correct
The male sex cell is known as the _____.
The male sex cell is known as the sperm. Answer (b) is correct
The testes produce a hormone called ______.
The testes produce a hormone called testosterone. Answer (a) is correct
The beginning stage of adolescence is known as _____.
hormonal change
The beginning stage of adolescence is known as puberty. Answer (c) is correct
The female sex cell is known as the _____.
The female sex cell is known as the ovum (or egg). Answer (a) is correct
Females go through a monthly cycle known as ________.
Females go through a monthly cycle known as menstruation. Answer (c) is correct
Humans have how many chromosomes?
Humans have 46 chromosomes. 23 from the mother and 23 from the father. Answer (d) is correct
When a female’s body releases an egg it is known as ________.
When a female’s body releases an egg it is known as ovulation. Answer (d) is correct
The ovaries produce a hormone called ______.
The ovaries produce a hormone called estrogen. Answer (d) is correct
Females are born with approximately _______ eggs.
Females are born with approximately 400,000 eggs. Answer (c) is correct
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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