Reproductive conditions, Reproductive pathologies

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I have learned that although massage does not directly affect reproductive system, it is an important system for massage therapists to know. Massage can be useful in decreasing anxiety and muscle tension that may accompany premenstrual syndrome and menstruation. It can help alleviate some of the physical discomforts associated with pregnancy. It may also be helpful in reducing anxiety with infertility issues. Sexual reproduction is the process by which male and female sex cells unite to produce offspring. Male sex cells are called spermatozoa and carry genetic information from the male that produced them. Female sex cells are called oocytes and carry genetic information from the female that produced them. When a sperm unties with an egg, the process is called fertilization. The resulting cell, called an ovum, contains genetic information from each parent. Reproductive organs are divided into 2 groups, primary and secondary. The primary reproductive organs are called gonads. They produce hormones and the cells necessary for reproduction. In the male they are testes; in female they are ovaries. The secondary set organs is a combination of ducts used to transport the reproductive cells for possible fertilization, and then transport the fertilized ovum to a place of incubation. This secondary set of organs in the male includes the epididymis, ductus defenses, ejaculatory ducts, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, bulbourethral glands, and penis. The scrotum is the supporting structure for the testes. It is a sac made of loose skin that hangs down from the penis and is attached to the body. Sperm production, or spermatogenesis, occurs in the testes. The testis also produces the hormones testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and inhibin. Luteinizing hormones from the anterior pituitary gland stimulates the production of testosterone. The epididymis is a comma-shaped organ next to the testes. It is a site for the maturation of sperm. The ducts (vas) deferens is also called seminal duct. It carries sperm from epididymis to the ejaculatory duct. The ejaculatory duct is a tube that transports sperm from the ducts deferens to the urethra. Semen is a milky fluid that is mixture of sperm and seminal fluid. Seminal fluid is a transport medium and source of nutrients for sperm. Seminal vesicles, the prostate gland, and bulbourethral glands all secrete that together make up the seminal fluids. In males, the urethra is the tube that carries urine from the urinary bladder and semen from the male reproductive system to outside the body. The penis contains the urethra and is a passageway for the ejaculation of semen and the excretion of urine. In the female’s reproductive system, the uterus is located in the pelvic cavity between the urinary bladder and rectum. The ovaries are located in the superior part of the pelvic cavity, lateral to the uterus. Estrogens and progesterone are responsible for the development of the female sex organs and feminine secondary sexual characteristics that occur at puberty. The female has two fallopian tubes or oviducts extend laterally from uterus to the ovaries. The vagina is 4-inch long muscular canal that extends from the cervix to outside the body. The vulva comprises the external genitals of the female. It is made up of the mons pubis, labia, and clitoris. The mons pubis is mound of adipose tissue covered by skin and pubic hair, cushioning the pubic symphysis. At puberty the female begins a fertility cycle about every 28 days. The cycle is divided into 4 phases and is dependent on hormones. The menstrual phase is the 1st phase. Menstruation is the shedding of built-up uterine lining from the previous fertility cycle. Menstruation last about 5 days. The nest phase is the preovulatory phase. It last from 6 to 13 days in a 28-day cycle. The production of estrogen is stimulated by follicle-stimulating hormones. These estrogens, along with luteinizing hormone, promote the development and release of the oocyte from the ovary in a process called ovulation. Ovulation is the third phase. It usually occurs on day 14 in a 28-day cycle. The oocyte is released from its follicle and travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. If fertilization occurs, it normally happens in the fallopian tube. The 4th stage is the postovulatory phase. It lasts from day 15 to day 28. Luteinizing hormone stimulates the ovaries to secrete progesterone, a small amount of relaxin, and inhibin, and continue secreting estrogens. If the oocyte is not fertilized, the level of progesterone decrease over 2 weeks, causing menstruation; the unfertilized egg is flushed out of the body. If, however, the oocyte is fertilized, it continues to develop and travels through the fallopian tube to implant in the uterus. The developing embryo secretes human chorionic gonadotropin, which stimulates the continual production of estrogens and progesterone so that the uterus can maintain the pregnancy. During pregnancy, the ovaries and placenta produce large amounts of relaxin. It increases the flexibility of the pubic symphysis and helps the cervix dilate to ease delivery of the baby. After a gestation period of about 40 weeks, the uterus begins a complex process called labor. The hormone oxytocin from the posterior pituitary gland initiates and strengthens uterine contractions that continue until the baby is expelled through the vaginal opening. Oxytocin is also responsible for milk ejection from the mammary glands.

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