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Physiology

The Female Reproductive System

The prime function of the mature female reproductive system is to bear children and reproduce the species. Menstrual cycles begin at puberty (anywhere between 9 and 15 years of age). The purpose is to release an egg for fertilization.

Female Reproductive System

This monthly process continues on a 28-day (approximately) monthly cycle until menopause (early 50's) when there are no more eggs to be released.

The cycle begins on the first day of menstruation. During the first 4-5 days the women bleeds and estrogen levels slowly begin to rise.

During the 6th and 14th days, estrogen continues to climb until it reaches peak levels during the 12th or 13th day. It is during this same time period that the pituitary gland in the brain sends the message to increase FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) to assist in growth. The levels of LH (Luteinizing Hormone) also continue to rise.

By day 14, LH assists in the release process and the mature ovary releases the egg for ovulation. At this time progesterone levels begin to rise. The uterine wall begins to thicken and to fill with fluid and blood, in anticipation of fertilization and the need to support a developing embryo. Without sperm fertilization, the estrogen and progesterone levels drop and the uterine sheds the built up lining, fluid, unfertilized egg, and blood. Menstruation begins on the 28th day. This cycle repeats itself each month.

Herbal Support

Without going into a medical terminology book, or an advanced physiology class, suffice it to say that a number of other chemicals, hormones, and nutrient changes are taking place in the woman's body during this entire process.

There are a number of herbs that may support and assist the female reproductive system. It is always important to have a full system analysis to determine the probable causes of things such as missed/infrequent menses, heavy/frequent menses, infertility, and other problematic effects such as migraines, cramping etc. It is important to remember that although we may experience the same symptom as a friend, it is often not to be treated in the same way. The underlying causes are often very different.

By carefully observing all systems together, we can then diagnose the cause, and begin to understand the appropriate treatment for each individual.

As mentioned, the pituitary gland is responsible for regulating FSH and LH hormones. This is triggered by the brain's hypothalamus. Hence the nervous system plays a very important role in a women's reproductive system. Different problems in the nervous system may result in different symptoms. Stress and emotional distress interferes with hormone production.

Depending on where in the cycle the stress was introduced, this can result in early, delayed, or absent menses. In these instances you may want to use nervine herbs for treating the nervous system. By relaxing and reducing stress, the body is more likely to do what it does naturally.

Likewise we need to keep in mind, that the women's body requires a number of nutrients and a healthy circulatory system, to keep the body healthy and tolerant of these monthly changes.

In some cases you may want to consider circulatory herbs, heart tonics, and blood strengtheners, to ensure that the overall system is functioning properly.

The levels of estrogen and progesterone play an obviously important role in regulating this entire process. Imbalances of either can result in a number of symptoms such as depression, soreness, cramping, flooding, spottiness, migraines, water retention, etc. During the entire cycle the two must be in balance. Equally important is to ensure that either one does not get too high or too low at any time.

In some cases you may want to consider estrogen-producing herbs, progesterone producing herbs, or an overall toning tonic. It is important to look at all symptoms and track your cycle carefully, to assist in identifying the underlying problems.

In conclusion, I would like to simply state that no part of the human body and its functioning systems can be isolated or treated individually. This is only a guideline and only touches on the complexity of the entire female reproductive system. The reproductive system, is only one of several other functioning systems in the human body. All are linked, and all will probably never be fully understood. All systems are required to maintain a healthy functional existence.