Female Reproductive System

This is easiest to define through the estrus cycle. At ovulation (days 14-15), preceded by a massive surge of ovarian estrogen, FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) is secreted by the pituitary (controlled by the hypothalamus of the brain).

A now fully matured egg is popped from an ovary, and the initiation of next month’s follicle maturation begins. The dozen or more proto- follicles that attempt maturation at this time are gradually reduced, by the end of menses, to a single
dominant one (the one that will mature and pop at next ovulation). The newly emptied follicle from THIS months ovulation seals off to form the corpus luteum, the temporary endocrine gland that makes progesterone.

The newly initiated egg follicles will be the source of estrogen for 4 weeks (until the surviving follicle’s egg pops and it starts making progesterone). Both the corpus luteum (progesterone) and the maturing follicle(s) (estrogen) secrete their hormones under the influence of another pituitary hormone, LH (luteinizing hormone). LH drops two or three days before menses, the corpus luteum falls apart (no more progesterone for that cycle), and the estrogen from the new follicle stops.

Menses begins (“day one”), a few days later LH is surged up by the pituitary until estrogen levels surge high enough to induce the FSH surge, triggering ovulation, progesterone initiation, and more proto-follicles to begin their maturation (day 14-15).

ESTROGEN triggers growth of the uterine lining and some breast tissue after menses (the proliferative phase). The dominance of progesterone after ovulation (the secretory phase) results in secretory organization and the increase in blood supply to the tissues stimulated by estrogen earlier. Estrogen also increases sympathetic and catabolic functions. PROGESTERONE, a testosterone relative, increases fat and protein metabolism, red blood cell synthesis and insulin sensitivity, as well as acting to prevent sodium retention and lessen inflammatory responses.

When menstruation starts, the resultant flow has been set up by the progesterone phase so that there is heparin (anticoagulant), lysozyme (microbial) and mucus present to aid in the dissolution of the thickened uterine lining. The increased tissue volume of the progesterone phase (particularly in the breasts) is reduced and urine production slightly increased. Estrogen is yinny, progesterone yangy, and women (in their reproductive years) go through four week cycles of contraction and expansion.

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