This research paper will explain the importance of the female reproductive system and each organ that makes it up. There will also be a couple of diseases that are associated with this body system explained throughout. Each organ within this body system will be explained along with its purpose and function. The purpose of the female reproductive system will be thoroughly explained and any relation to any other body system will be mentioned.
The female reproductive system is one of the most important systems of the body. This is where human life begins and where we spend our first 36-40 weeks of life. That is the main purpose of this body system; to create and nourish until they have reached an age where they no longer have to depend on the mother to survive. Nutrients, oxygen, and waste is all exchanged between the baby and it’s mother to help the baby grow. There are several other functions of this body system, but creating life is by far the most important.
This system produces ova, also known as a female sex cell, that are very necessary for reproduction (www.webMd.com). In order for the female to start the process of creating life, the ova must be fertilized by the male sperm. The male reproductive system is closely related to the female reproductive system, in that both are needed to create life. Once the sperm cell fertilizes the ovum, the ovum then becomes a zygote and gestation, another term for pregnancy, begins. The egg then makes its way up the fallopian tube, which is typically where the fertilization happens, and plants itself onto the uterine wall.
The organs that make up the internal genitalia of the female reproductive System include the ovaries, fallopian tube’s, uterus, vagina, clitoris, Bartholin gland, and perineum. The external genitalia include labia majora, labia minora , and hymen. These occupy the perineum which is the area between anus and vulva.
The female gonads are the ovaries which produce ova, or egg cells, and sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The ovary is an almond shaped organ that occupies the ovarian fossa. The ovaries produce an ovum, which is a mature female reproductive cell. Internally the ovary is divided into a central medulla and an outer cortex. The medulla is a core of fibrous connective tissue occupied by veins and arteries of the ovary. The cortex is the site of ovarian follicles which consist of one developed ovum surrounded by thousands of small sacs. The ovary receives blood from the ovarian branch and the uterine artery.
The fallopian tubes also called uterine tubes, or oviducts, are about 5.5 inches long leading from each ovary to the uterus. When an ovum is mature, the follicle and ovaries the wall will rupture allowing the ovum to escape entering the Fallopian tube. The wall of the uterine tube is covered with smooth muscle that help with muscular contractions of the tubes. The fallopian tubes passes the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.
The uterus or womb is the major female reproductive organ. It is a thick muscular organ that open into the roof of the vagina. The function of the uterus is to carry the fetus, provide a source of nutrition, and expel the fetus at the end of his development. The uterus is usually 3 inches long and has the shape and size of a pear in women that are not pregnant. The uterus has three layers which form the uterine wall. The external layer is called the perimetrium; the middle muscular layer is called the myometrium and it occupies most of the uterine wall; and the inner layer is called the endometrium. Estrogen makes this layer thick with blood and fluid. This is why the uterus is a good place for a baby to grow. The egg is traveling to your uterus. If the egg doesn’t become fertilized the endometrium will shed every month resulting in your next menstrual cycle, or period.
If an ovum is produced but not fertilized and implanted in the uterine wall, the reproductive cycle resets itself through menstruation. The entire reproductive cycle takes about 28 days on average, but may be as short as 24 days or could last as long as 36 days for some women. Menopause starts after the final period, usually between the ages of 45 and 55 years. The fluid and blood that leave your body during menstruation will pass through your cervix and vagina.
The lower portion of the uterus is the cervix and the vagina is a 3 inch elastic, muscular tube. The vagina extends from vulva to the cervix and is where the penis enters and release semen during sexual intercourse. The vagina connects the cervix to outer body. The external genitalia of the female take up most of the perineum and are collectively called the vulva. The vulva is the organ which consists of two sets of skin folds, often called lips, on either side of the opening of the vagina. These “lips” are called the labia majora and the labia minora. The labia majora are a pair of thick folds and fat tissue that cover and project the other external organs. Pubic hair grows on the side of the labia majora at puberty. The labia minora are much thinner, and entirely hairless that covers the opening of the vagina and urethra.
At the vaginal orifice, the mucous membranes fold inward and forms the hymen which stretches across the opening. The hymen consist of one or more openings that allow discharge of menstrual fluid. It is usually ruptured during the first act of intercourse. The clitoris is similar in structure to a penis, its a small sensitive gland at the bottom of the moms pubis. It’s function is sensory and it serves as the primary center of sexual stimulation. A pair of subcutaneous erectile tissue called the vestibular bulbs surround the vagina. On each side of the vagina is a pea size Bartholin gland that open into the lower vagina. During sexual excitement they provide most of the lubrication for intercourse, and they keep the vulva moist.
The female reproductive system is more complex than a males because is served my purpose. The male reproductive system only job is to produce and deliver gamete, the female must do this as well as provide nutrition and safe harbor for the development of the feeders, then give birth and nourish the infant.
There are many diseases associated with the female reproductive system but a very common one is cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is a malignant tumor of the lower part of the uterus; it begins in the uterine cervix, the lower end of the uterus that contacts the upper vagina. There are five stages to cervical cancer. In stage zero when there is not a true invasive cancer, the abnormal cells are only on the surface of the cervix and are referred to as carcinoma in situ. In stage one there is a small amount of tumor present that has not spread to any lymph nodes or distant sites. In stage two the cancer has spread beyond the cervix and uterus, but does not invade the pelvic walls or the lower part of the vagina. In stage three the cancer has grown into the lower part of the vagina or the walls of the pelvis. The tumor may be blocking the ureters which are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. There is no spread to other sites in the body. In stage five this is the most advanced stage, in which the cancer has spread to the bladder or rectum, or to sites in other areas of the body.
If detected early, cervical cancer has a very high cure rate. Cervical cancer can often be prevented with vaccination and modern screening techniques that detect precancerous changes in the cervix. The incidence of cervical cancers in the developed world declined significantly after the introduction of Pap screening to detect precancerous changes, which can be treated before they progress to become cancer. Moreover, vaccines are available against the common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 are HPV vaccines. Original studies with Gardasil showed it to be very effective in preventing infection by four common HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18) in young people who were not previously infected with HPV. Gardasil 9, a newer version of the vaccine, was approved in December 2014 and provides immunity to nine HPV types which are types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.
Vaccination should occur before sexual activity to offer the full benefit of the vaccine. The CDC recommends that 11- to 12-year-old girls receive the HPV vaccine, and young women ages 13 through 26 should get the vaccine if they did not receive any or all doses when they were younger. Gardasil is also approved for use in males ages 9 to 26, and the CDC recommends Gardasil for all boys aged 11 or 12 years, and for males aged 13 through 21 years who did not receive the full three vaccination series. Men can receive the vaccine up to age 26.
When doing pap testing, a superficial sample of cells from the cervix is taken with a brush or swab during a routine pelvic examination and sent to a laboratory for analysis of the cell’s appearance. Dysplasia is abnormal appearing cells that are not cancers but may be precancerous. Dysplasia of the cervix identified at the time of the pap testing is referred to as a squamous intraepithelial lesion. Cervical intraepithelial is another term used to classify precancerous changes in the cervix that are seen on tissue samples such as biopsies. Precancerous changes in the cervix can be treated, which can prevent the development of cervical cancer (www.medicinenet.com).
Cervical cancer may or may not have any signs or symptoms. The symptoms could start developing when the cervical cancer cells start to invade surrounding tissues. The symptoms associated with cervical cancer includes abnormal vaginal bleeding, vaginal bleeding after menopause, vaginal bleeding after sex, bleeding or spotting between periods, longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual, other abnormal vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse. In the US, cervical cancer occurs in almost 13,000 women causing about 4,100 deaths (American Cancer Society, 2018). The survival rates in African American women are lower than any other ethnicity group in the US.
Cervical cancer can be caused by a longstanding infection of HPV. Although there is over a hundred types of HPV’s only certain ones cause cervical cancer others cause warts on the skin and the genital area on both men and women. HPV infection is spread through sexual contact or skin to skin contact. Since not all people who are infected with HPV will develop cervical cancer, it is likely that other factors also play a role in the development of cervical cancer. Certain risk factors have been identified that increases a woman’s chance for developing cervical cancer which include tobacco smoking, HIV infection, immune system suppression, past or current Chlamydia infection, overweight, long term use of oral contraceptives, having three or more full term pregnancies, having a first full term pregnancy before the age of 17, poverty and a family history of cervical cancer (Cancer Facts and Figures, 2018).
There are different ways cervical cancer can be treated it just depends on the staging of the cancer. Surgery is often performed to remove the cancer, especially in early-stage tumors. Hysterectomy may be performed, but other procedures that preserve the ability to carry a pregnancy can be done in younger women with small tumors. Both a cone biopsy and a trachelectomy are options that can be used for small tumors in order to preserve fertility. With more advanced cancers, a procedure known as pelvic exoneration removes the uterus, surrounding lymph nodes, and parts of other organs surrounding the cancer, depending on its location.
Radiation therapy is another common treatment for cervical cancer. Both external beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy have been used for cervical cancer. These two types of therapy have also been used together. If radiation therapy is given as the main treatment for the cancer, it is often combined with chemotherapy. Side effects of radiation therapy include fatigue, diarrhea, skin changes, nausea, vomiting, irritation of the bladder, vaginal irritation and discharge, and sometimes menstrual changes or early menopause, if the ovaries are exposed to radiation. Chemotherapy may be recommended together with radiation therapy for some stages of cervical cancer. It may also be given before or after radiation treatment. Chemotherapy drugs commonly used for cervical cancer include cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil (American Cancer Society, 2018). Chemotherapy may also be the treatment of choice for cervical cancer that has come back after treatment. Side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, and mouth sores.
Targeted therapy refers to drugs that have been specifically developed, or targeted, to interrupt cellular processes that promote growth of cancer cells (ww.medicinetcom). Bevacizumab is an example of targeted therapy. It is a drug that inhibits the ability of tumors to make new blood vessels, which is required for tumor growth. This kind of targeted therapy is sometimes used for advanced cervical cancers. There are different drugs and vaccines that help with preventing cervical cancer but nothing is 100% guaranteed. HPV is preventable and all precautions need to be taken to protect the body from further complications.
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