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Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness _______________________________________________________

Female Reproductive System _______________________________________________________________________________

Before we can get a clear understand of our sexual behavior it would be a good idea to see how our sexuality is integrated with our reproductive system. You know our biochemistry. For starters let‟s check out the female anatomy. We don‟t know about you, but we are all for that…Ahhh...is that sexual harassment…because we are trying to cut back? Well, let‟s just put it this way…ladies first. Okay, let‟s get a little serious now. The first thing we are going to do is a laparotomy. Well, actually the first we will need to do is find a female. That could take forever so until we do that we will just have to use our imagination. In case you didn‟t know, laparotomy is the opening of the stomach wall. Otomy means to open, and lap is the prefix for stomach. Once we get inside there, we are going to look specifically at the reproductive organs. We will start with the vagina…can you think of a better place to start? Okay, moving right along, the vagina leads to the cervix, which is the mouth of the uterus. The uterus or womb is composed of two linings…the myometrium which is a very powerful muscle and the endometrium which is very vascular. The endometrium is where the zygote attaches. At the top of the uterus, fallopian tubes lead out of the uterus and down to the ovaries. At the end of the fallopian tubes is finger like extensions called the fimbra. The fimbra are used to sweep the ovum that is released by the ovaries into the fallopian tubes. Around the eighth or ninth day of a female‟s menstrual cycle, her hypothalamus will start secreting releasing factors. A releasing factor is not a real hormone, but rather a hormonal messenger…you know, a releasing factor. The first releasing factor it produces is follicle stimulating hormone release factor (FSH-RF). When FSH-RF is released from the hypothalamus, it goes to the pituitary gland by way of the blood stream. The FSH-RF activates the pituitary gland to produce the actual hormone FSH. The FSH is then released and by way of the blood stream goes to the ovaries. The FSH then causes anywhere from 2 to 32 follicles to start growing and nurturing. This is called the follicular phase of menstruation A few days later the hypothalamus will start producing another releasing factor called luteinizing hormone release factor (LHRF). Again, this is just a releasing factor. The LH-RF once released goes to the pituitary by way of the blood stream and cause just one of those initially activated follicles to grow bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER until it eventually bursts. When it bursts, an egg or an ovum is released. This is called ovulation.


Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness _______________________________________________________

Once upon a time, that‟s right, this is a use your imagination story, there was an Italian gynecologist who was doing a laparoscopy at the exact time that this woman he was studying ovulated. He noticed that the follicle that released the ovum was yellow. Consequently, he called the follicle a corpus luteum, which means yellow body in Italian. He also noticed that there where hormones oozing from the corpus luteum. He traced the hormone through the body and found that it went to the endometrium and caused it to build up with blood and nutrients. In other words, this hormone was preparing the endometrium for pregnancy. When he saw that, he called the hormone progesterone, which in Italian means prepare for pregnancy. Then, he noticed that the corpus luteum was producing another hormone. He traced that one through the body and he found that it went to the hypothalamus. When it came in contact with the hypothalamus it stopped it from producing FSH-RF and LH-RF. In short, it was an inhibitory hormone. He called this hormone estrogen because estrogen in Italian means…well… nothing…so he just made the word up I guess. He also noticed that estrogen went to the girl‟s breast and bootie and caused these sites (estrogen receptors) to start accumulating subcutaneous tissue (a functional fat tissue) bringing about the development of the females…well, breast and bootie. HURRAY! In brief, he found that estrogen was not only an inhibitory hormone, but it was also responsible for the secondary sex characteristic of the female. Let‟s get back to that ovulation part. The corpus luteum releases the egg and the fimbra sweep it up into the fallopian tube. Meanwhile, the woman goes over to her boyfriend‟s house and gets her brains banged out. She gets these big knots on the back of her head from hitting the headboard and then the guy ejaculates. You know what that means…child support. The guy‟s little sperms go swimming upstream and then one of them hits pay dirt. The sperm units with the egg and now you have gestation. The consequence of which is a zygote. The zygote travels down the fallopian tube and eventually embeds into the wall of uterus, more specifically the endometrium. As soon as the zygote embeds into the uterus, it starts producing two hormones of its own. The first one is gonadatrophic hormone. Once produced, gonadatrophic hormone goes to the corpus luteum and tells it to keep producing estrogen and progesterone. Why do you think this is important? We will tell you why, because progesterone is necessary to keep the endometrium viable. Without progesterone, the lining will begin to flake off and the zygote will be aborted. The real thought provoking question is, “Why the estrogen?” Actually, it is not that thought provoking. The estrogen is necessary to inhibit the hypothalamus from secreting FSH-RF and LH-RF. If the hypothalamus would continue to secret those releasing factors, the women would continue to ovulate and she could end up with multiple pregnancies. The zygote, by producing gonadatrophic hormone, is watching out for himself by ensuring that the endometrium remains intact and that no more ovum will be released while he is in house…in the uterus. Here is something else that is pretty neat. The zygote will also produce the hormone


Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness _______________________________________________________

prolactin. Prolactin goes to the woman‟s breasts and causes them to build up with milk. This is called lactation. The woman‟s breasts enlarge and everyone is happy…well, at least the zygote and boyfriend are. In this case, the zygote is ensuring that he will have something to eat once he is born. Okay, now let‟s get real. You know that no woman is going to have sex before she is married because sex before marriage is a sin. And women never commit sins. If you don‟t believe me, ask them. Consequently, that means no knots on the back of her head. Without the knots on the back of her head, there will be no sperm in her fallopian tubes. No sperm, no zygote, no zygote no prolactin, no prolactin, no lactation, and the girlfriend‟s breasts stay teeny weenie. No zygote, no gonadatrophic, no gonadatrophic, and the corpus luteum withers and dries up. No corpus luteum, no progesterone, no progesterone, and the endometrium starts flaking off and the woman begins to menstruate. No corpus luteum, no estrogen, no estrogen and the hypothalamus starts to produce the releasing factors and the whole mess starts all over again. Isn‟t that incredible? Of course, it is. Now, can you tell me how the birth control works? Sure you can. There are basically two types of pills: the sequential pill and the combination pill. Both pills work basically the same way, so let‟s just look at one of them. Let‟s look at the sequential pill, which is the more commonly used medication. The sequential pill contains two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. How about that? The first 15 days of the pill is almost pure estrogen. The estrogen knocks off the hypothalamus. Consequently, the hypothalamus does not produce any FSH-RF or LH-RF. Without the FSH-RF and LH-RF the pituitary gland won‟t produce any FSH or LH and then the woman won‟t ovulate. If the woman doesn‟t ovulate, there is no ovum, and without the ovum there can be no pregnancy. The next 6 days the pill is almost pure progesterone. Now here is the real stumper, “Why is there progesterone in the pill if the woman isn‟t going to get pregnant?” She certainly doesn‟t need to have blood and nutrients in her uterus if there is not going to be a zygote in there. To be honest, there really is no need for progesterone in the pill except for one little thing. What is the first symptom of pregnancy? If you said no menstruation you get another red star. Progesterone is necessary for the endometrium to build up with blood and nutrients. Without progesterone, there would be no blood in the uterus. As a result, the women would not menstruate. If she didn‟t menstruate, every month she would have to be running back and forth to the doctor to see if she was pregnant. The last seven pills are placebo, they are in essence sugar. There is nothing in them. You don‟t even have to take them if you don‟t want to. The only reason they are in there is to keep you on track so that you don‟t forgetting when to take the estrogen and progesterone pills. When you are taking these placebo pills though, the progesterone blood level drops and you know what that means…the endrometrium without progesterone, starts flaking off and the woman menstruates. WOW!!!!!!!!! I am glad that is over with. Don‟t get too excited, though, we still have the male reproductive cycle to check out.


Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness _______________________________________________________

Male Reproductive System _________________________________________________________________________

All right, let‟s look at the male reproductive system. To do this we will need to cut open someone‟s testicle and it‟s not going to be mine. So we are going to need another one of those mandatory volunteers. What the heck, we will use my dean again. He doesn‟t use his testicles any more than he uses his brain. Don‟t tell him I said that. Okay, we are going to take his testicle out of his scrotum and then cut it lengthwise. OUCH! At the bottom of the testicle you will see a series of convolutions. This is his seminiferous tubules. The seminiferous tubules are the part of the testicles that produce sperm and testosterone, the male hormone. We will get to that in a second. When sperm is produced, it is stored in a small compartment just above the seminiferous tubules called the epididymus. The sperm remains in the epididymus until needed. WINK! From the epididymus, sperm goes through a tube called the vas deferens. Have you ever heard of a vasectomy? Ectomy means to remove. So a vasectomy is the removal of the vas deferens…well, part of the vas deferens anyway. By clipping the vas deferens off, sperm is blocked from leaving the body when the male ejaculates. Here is a question for you. If a man has a vasectomy, does he still ejaculate fluid? Of course he does. Fluid produced by the seminal vesicles is ejaculated. Naturally there is no sperm in it because as mentioned, the sperm is blocked by the vasectomy. Anywho, the vas deferens then leads into the urethra and from there…well, we are not at liberty to tell you that. Okay, now that we got a quick and crude overview of the male reproductive system, let‟s take a closer look as to how it works. This is the important part, so pay close attention here. Now, here is something that might surprise you. From a hormonal stand point, men and women are very closely related.


Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness _______________________________________________________

Just like in a woman, the male‟s hypothalamus secretes releasing factors. The first releasing factor it produces is inter-cellular hormone release factor (ICH-RF). When ICH-RF is released from the hypothalamus, it goes to the pituitary gland by way of the blood stream. The ICH-RF activates the pituitary gland to produce the actual hormone ICH. The ICH is released and by way of the blood stream goes to the testicles, more specifically the seminiferous tubules. The ICH causes the seminiferous tubules to produce sperm. That is important to know. I will say it again, the ICH causes the production of sperm. A few days later, the hypothalamus will start producing another releasing factor. Guess what it is…luteinizing hormone releasing factor. That‟s right, the same LH-RF that the females produce. Once the LH-RF is released, it goes to the pituitary by way of the blood stream and causes the pituitary gland to release the actually hormone LH. The LH then goes to the seminiferous tubules by way of the blood stream. The LH causes the seminiferous tubules to produce testosterone. That is also important to understand because we are going to use this information later on when we talk about steroids. Testosterone is both an anabolic and androgenic hormone, meaning that it promotes muscle growth and the secondary sex characteristics of males. Also, like estrogen, it is an inhibitory hormone. Once the blood level reaches 10 milligrams of testosterone, it knocks off the hypothalamus. Accordingly, the hypothalamus does not produce any LH-RF or ICH-RF. Without the LH-RF, the pituitary gland body won‟t produce any LH or ICH and the testicles won‟t produce any more testosterone or sperm. Here is another question for you. Could you develop a male birth control pill after what we just told you? Of course, you could. All you would have to do is give him 10 milligrams of testosterone. That would knock off the hypothalamus. As a result, no ICH would be produced. Without ICH, the male would not be able to produce sperm.

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Female Reproductive System Chapter 12 - Human Sexual Wellness ______________________________________________________________________________...

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