The reproductive system, also known as the genital system, is the biological system of the body responsible for sexual reproduction.
The female reproductive system is a little more complex, having two functions; whereas the male reproductive system only has one function. The female reproductive system’s two functions are to create egg cells and then to house and nourish a fertilized egg if pregnancy occurs, up until the time of childbirth. Because of the complexity and the important things happening, it’s important to start checking your reproductive health at a young age.
Understanding Reproductive Health
The sooner a young woman learns about her reproductive system, the sooner she can make better decisions on how to take care of her body. Understanding reproductive health also allows you to know what is normal and what may be a potential issue.
The Menstrual Cycle
Teaching young girls (when they’re old enough to understand) about their menstrual cycle is a good start to learning about the reproductive system. A healthy menstrual cycle is an important part of having a healthy reproductive system, so it’s good to know what is normal and what is abnormal, as it lets you know if you may have any possible fertility issues — Yes, men have fertility issues as well but it’s more common and evident in women.
A woman’s entire menstrual cycle can last anywhere from 21 to 35 days, and anything shorter than 21 or longer than 35 days may be a cause for concern. The menstrual cycle has four phases, each lasting a different number of days for every woman. They are:
- The Menstrual Phase (4-8 days) where the lining of the uterus is being shed off and bleeding occurs.
- The Follicular Phase (7-10 days) where the ovaries prepare an egg for the cycle.
- The Ovulatory Phase (around days 14-16) is when the egg is released into the fallopian tubes.
- The Luteal Phase (last 10 days before menstruation) where hormone levels rise in order to help the uterus prepare for a fertilized egg, or the shedding of the uterus if that doesn’t happen.
When girls understand what is happening inside of their bodies, they can make more informed decisions regarding their bodies. There are even period trackers that will help women understand each phase of their cycle even more.
Understanding the reproductive system includes understanding the hormones that the system requires to function properly. There are several hormones that play a role in reproductive health in women, but the two main hormones are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is mostly responsible for the function of reproductive organs, while progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.
Another part of reproductive health is the possibility of reproductive issues. These can be things like sexually transmitted diseases or issues caused by abnormalities happening in the reproductive system. The latter includes issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It’s important for all women to know the signs of reproductive issues, with pelvic/lower back pain and/or changes in the menstrual cycle and urination being some of the most common signs of a reproductive issue.
Maintaining Reproductive Health
Maintaining your reproductive health requires you to have a healthy reproductive system. Ways to ensure that your reproductive system includes:
- Getting regular checkups.
- Eating a fiber-rich and low-fat diet.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Exercising on a regular basis.
- Getting enough sleep every night.
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol.
It’s also important to be aware of the correct use of feminine and other personal care products. For example, if feminine washes are used incorrectly, they can cause serious health problems later on. Also, try to research and be up to date on any recalls on feminine and personal care products. Some of these products contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to women’s reproductive systems.
It’s good to be aware of your reproductive health at any age, but starting at a young age allows you to be more well-informed so you’re less likely to make errors in judgment when it comes to reproductive and sexual health.