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Reproductive Health

The reproductive system is a collection of organs that work together for the purpose of producing new life.

The Male Reproductive System

Two major parts, the Testes and the Penis.

The testes where sperm are produced. Having the testes outside of the body facilitates temperature regulation of the sperm - which require specific temperature to survive.

Female Reproductive System

Consists of the Vagina and Uterus: the receptacle of sperm

Ovaries: produces the females' ova

The vagina is attached to the uterus through the cervix, the fallopian tubes connect the uterus to the ovaries. In response to the hormonal changes, one ovum or egg (or more in case of multiple births) is released and sent down the fallopian tube during ovulation. If not fertilized, this egg is eliminated as a result of menstruation.

Fertilization of the ovum with the sperm occurs only at the ampullary-isthimic junction, which is why intercourse does not always result in pregnancy.

Fertilization

At the time of conception, the ovum meets with spermatozoon, where the sperm may penetrate and merge with the egg, resulting in fertilization while the fertilization usually occurs in the oviducts, it can also happen in the uterus itself. The egg then becomes implanted in the lining of the uterus, where it begins the processes of embryogenesis and morphogenesis.

Infertility

Defined as a couples' inability to conceive after one year of regular intercourse.

In a male

 

  • Infertility in men is a condition where they produce no sperm cells (azoospermia)
  • Too few sperm cells (oligospemia)
  • Abnormal sperm cells or die before they reach the egg

 

In rare cases infertility in men can be a inherited condition such as cystic fibrosis or chromosomal abnormalities

Men can also experience epididymitis, which is inflammation of the epidymis, the tube that lies on and around each testicle and plays a role in the transportation, storage and maturation of sperm cells

Hypogonadism a condition in which the testicles do not produce enough testosterone.

In women

Infertility is defines as a disorder of the reproductive system that hinders the body's ability to ovulate, conceive or carry an infant to term.

 

  • Ovulation disorders (Meaning you ovulate infrequently or not at all, this can be caused by flaws in the regulation of the reproductive hormones by the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland or by problems in the ovary itself)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Hypothalmic dysfunction
  • Premature ovarian syndrome
  • Too much prolactin

 

Damage to the fallopian tube

When the fallopian tubes become blocked or damaged, they keep sperm from getting to the egg or block the passage of the fertilized egg into the uterus.

Causes of fallopian tube damage or blockage may include

 

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Previous abdominal surgery
  • Pelvic tuberculosis

 

Endometriosos

It occurs when tissue that normally grows in the uterus, implants and grows in other locations. This extra tissue (and the surgical removal of it) can cause scar tissue that can obstruct the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting. It can also affect the lining of the uterus, disrupting implantation of the fertilized egg.

Uterus or cervial causes

Several uterine or cervical causes can impact fertility by interfering with implantation or the likelihood of miscarriage

Benign polyps or tumours

Endometriosis scarring or inflammation within the uterus can disrupt implantation

Uterine abnormalities present from birth (eg. Abnormally shaped uterus)

Cervical stenosis (cervical narrowing)

Sometimes the cervix can't produce the best mucus to allow the sperm to travel into the uterus

Sometimes, the causes of infertility is never found. It is possible that a combination of minor factors in both partners can cause unexplained fertility problems, although it can be frustrating not to have a direct answer for this, most of the time, it resolves on its own.

Compiled by Sr Lindi and Sr Tori
References available on request
Reproductive Health: February Newsletter National Road Pharmacy

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