Female Reproductive Health

The female reproductive system is the set of body parts that contribute to reproduction, such as ovulation and pregnancy. This system plays an important role in maintaining balance in the whole body through hormone production and interaction. The female reproductive system consists of the  ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina.

Female reproductive health is important to the overall health of the woman, and to the health and viability of her potential children.

Some female reproductive health issues include:

  • Female Infertility/Increased Time to Pregnancy:
    • Infertility refers to difficulty becoming pregnant after trying for more than one year, or having repeated miscarriages.
    • Female infertility or other delays in becoming pregnant can result from physical problems, hormone problems, lifestyle, or environmental factors.
    • For more information, visit http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/femaleinfertility.html
  • Uterine Fibroids:
    • Uterine Fibroids are benign tumors in the wall of the uterus and are common in women in their 30s and 40s.
    • Rarely, they may cause infertility by blocking the fallopian tubes. More often, fibroids interfere with proper implantation of the fertilized egg.
    • For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infertility/DS00310/DSECTION=causes
  • Cancer:
    • Female reproductive cancers include ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers. Breast cancer is not considered a female reproductive cancer, and although it affects mostly women, it also affects men.
    • Cancer occurs when cells in the body replicate themselves out of control, usually leading to a mass of tissue, impairment of normal biological functions in the area with the mass, and often leading to serious illness or death. For more information, visit http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cancer.html
    • Certain cancers — particularly female reproductive cancers — often severely impair female fertility.
    • Both radiation and chemotherapy may affect a woman’s ability to reproduce. Chemotherapy may impair reproductive function and fertility in men and women.
    • For more information, visit http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infertility/DS00310/DSECTION=causes
  • Puberty:
    • Puberty is the time when one’s body changes to become sexually mature.
    • Puberty  includes rapid growth of bones and muscles, changes in body shape and size, and development of the body’s ability to reproduce.
    • Both genes and environmental factors play a role in determining when someone will enter puberty.
    • For girls, puberty usually takes place between ages 10-14, and for boys, between ages 12-16.
    • Some people enter puberty earlier than usual, around ages 8-9. This is called precocious puberty, and it can be caused by structural or chemical factors in the body, but sometimes there is no known cause.
    • For more information, visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/precocious_puberty.cfm or http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/puberty.cfm
  • Birth Outcomes:
    • The time when a baby is in the womb is a delicate and rapid period of growth for the baby. This period is surpassed only by puberty in developmental importance during the human life.
    • As a result, the fetus and its future health is particularly vulnerable to harm from exposure to toxins and chemicals, food, and other factors, through it’s connection to its mother.
    • One of the most significant birth health outcomes is a shorter length of time spent in the womb, a.k.a, a shorter gestation, which implies less time for the developmental processes that take place during gestation (establishment of the body’s important physical structures, and of functions like that of the brain, nerves, and immune system). Birth outcomes that are often related to length or quality of gestation include reduced birth weight, size, and head circumference, poorer reflexes, poorer neonatal and later-life immune function, and others.

 CERCH Findings on Birth Outcomes:

Seveso findings…

The Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health’s CHAMACOS Study and Seveso Women’s Health Study have aimed to gather much needed data about the effects of environmental exposures during the perinatal period. These studies investigate exposure-associated health outcomes, as well as the pathways by which pregnant mothers and newborns are exposed and the mechanisms by which these exposures cause damage.

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