The development of the normal female reproductive tract is a complex process. The indifferent gonad differentiates to the ovary. The mesonephros, Wolffian and Müllerian ducts differentiate in an orchestrated manner to form the uterus, vagina and lower urinary tract. Disordered differentiation can result in congenital abnormalities affecting the female reproductive tracts, renal tract and lower intestines. A number of rudimentary structures can persist and be encountered in clinical practice, most commonly these are derived from the Wolffian ducts. This chapter provides an overview of the embryology of the female genital tract relevant to the multidisciplinary team caring for young females presenting with illnesses related to the reproductive system.


External Genitalia Urogenital Sinus Labium Minora Posterior Abdominal Wall Mesonephric Duct 



Anti-Müllerian hormone


Urogenital sinus


  1. Baker TG (1963) A quantitative and cytological study of germ cells in the human ovaries. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B. 158:417–433Google Scholar
  2. Bardo DM, Black M, Schenk K, Zaritzky MF (2009) Location of the ovaries in girls from newborn to 18 years of age: reconsidering ovarian shielding. Pediatr Radiol 39:253–259PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Moore KL, Persaud TVN (1998) The urogenital system. In: Moore KL, Persaud TVN (eds) The developing human. Clinically oriented embryology, ed 6. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, pp 303–347Google Scholar
  4. Verkauf BS, Bernhisel M (1996) Ovarian maldescent. Fertil Steril 65:189–192PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Paediatric RadiologyAlder Hey NHS Foundation TrustLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations