The reproductive as well as the urinary tracts are both susceptible to infections. However, this type of infections, barring those caused by sexual activity, is comparatively less frequent in men, as they have an elongated urethra which prevents the easy passage of bacteria as well as other micro organisms into the upper urinary tract and the bladder as well as the reproductive organs. On the other hand, females have a shorter urethra that permits the urinary tract to be infected. Especially, cystitis (infection of the bladder) and urethritis (infection of the urethra) are more common in women. In addition, the reproductive tract of females is susceptible to infections, some of which are transmitted during sexual activities.
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Furthermore, hormonal disturbances may also disrupt the functioning of the reproductive tract, resulting in decreased fertility. Women may also be distressed due to symptoms caused by the normal activities of the reproductive organs, for instance, menstrual disorders as well as childbirth related problems.
Besides infections, problems associated with the functioning of the bladder are most widespread urinary disorders. In some cases, urination may occur involuntarily (a condition known as urinary incontinence), while, in other instances, the bladder may retain excessive urine. Generally, these types of problems occur owing to anomalous nerve signals to the sphincter center or the bladder. Then again, any change in the blood or hormone composition, which control urine production, may disrupt the action of the kidneys to filter blood. The kidneys may also be affected due to damage caused by inflammation or infection to the filtering units of this vital organ.
Female sex hormones are responsible for menstrual cycles every month resulting in ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary) and the endometrium or uterus lining becoming thickened - a preparation for pregnancy. Provided fertilization of the egg does not take place, the endometrium will naturally disintegrate in approximately two weeks later during the menstrual period.
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Major problems related to menstruation include menorrhagia (too much blood loss), dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) and premenstrual syndrome (agonizing symptoms before the start of menstruation). Any woman suffering from these problems may need immediate medical therapy.
Some of the medications that are prescribed most commonly for treating problems related to menstruation include estrogens and progesterone (or a synthetically prepared medication called progestins), analgesics and danazol.
The medications that are used to treat menstrual problems work in different ways. Physicians employ hormonal therapies with a view to restrain the hormonal change patterns, which are responsible for the upsetting symptoms. Even contraceptive preparations may often alter the normal menstrual cycle. In such cases, ovulation does not take place and the thickening of the endometrium also does not occur normally. Even the bleeding during the end of the menstruation cycle is not likely to occur as heavily as it occurs normally. A number of troublesome symptoms also occur prior to the menstrual cycle, or the symptoms may occur together with acute uneasiness.
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However, taking non-contraceptive preparations containing progesterone few days before the menstruation will not hold back ovulation. In addition, taking enhanced amounts of progesterone prior to menstruation also lessens premenstrual symptoms and checks the endometrium from becoming too thick.
Danazol is a very powerful and costly medication. It puts off the endometrium from thickening and, in this way this medication also cures extremely heavy menstrual periods. This result in reduced blood loss and in some instances, treatment with danazol also puts an end to menstruation.
Different contraceptive methods are available to effectually prevent conception as well as pregnancy following sexual intercourse. Numerous women find oral contraceptives to be very effectual in preventing pregnancy. Apart from the contraceptive attributes of these birth control pills, they are tolerable by most women and convenient for use.
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Oral contraceptives come in two main varieties - the phased pill and the combined pill. Both these varieties enclose a natural or man-made estrogen as well as a progestin (an artificial type of progesterone or the female hormone). In addition, both types of pills are taken orally in a cyclic schedule.
The progestin-only pill is the third variety of oral contraceptive. This oral contraceptive was launched in the market in the 1970s, but is seldom used by women these days, as it is not only reliable in preventing pregnancy, but often causes several bothering adverse effects.
In the event of the menstrual cycle being normal, an intricate interaction between the pituitary hormones, and the female sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are responsible for the maturation as well as the discharge of an egg, in addition to preparing the uterus to embed the fertilized egg. Progestin and estrogen present in oral contraceptives work in various ways to disturb this normal cycle in a manner that generally prevents conception following sexual intercourse.
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The levels of progestin and estrogen present in the combined oral contraceptive pills and phased contraceptive pills inhibit the production of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, and, in so doing, check the egg from becoming mature inside the ovary, in addition to preventing its release.
In fact, all types of oral contraceptives, including progestin-only, phased and combines, alter the cervical mucus as well as the uterus' lining to inhibit the sperm's ability to fertilize a ripened egg released from the ovary.
The course for both the combined contraceptive pills as well as the phased contraceptive pills continues for 21 days. This is followed by a period of seven days when a woman using this pills abstain from taking them, as menstruation takes place during this time. However, some oral contraceptive brands offer seven extra pills that are inactive and may be taken during this seven-day period. This denotes that a new course of birth control pills begins immediately after the previous one and the seven inactive pills are added to the pack to ensure that women using them do not break their habit of taking these pills every day.
On the other hand, the course of progestin-only pills are taken for 28 days every month. This is because generally menstruation takes place at the end of the cycle and lasts for just a few days.
Majority of the women taking the latest types of birth control pills usually do not experience much change in their overall well-being. However, a very small number of women, about 10 percent to 15 percent may possibly experience headaches, mood changes, some pain in their breasts, missed periods, breakthrough bleeding, nausea and/ or weight gain when they start using the pills. It has been found that several of these troublesome side effects of using these newer contraceptive pills disappear on their own after about three months and they can keep on taking these oral contraceptives. However, in a number of instances, such women may require switching on to a different brand or pill having a dissimilar composition with a view to lessen the side effects. It has been found that several women actually get respite from the excruciating, profuse or drawn out menstrual periods when they take oral contraceptives.
Irrespective of which birth control pill is being used, it should be taken on a regular basis and without any break to ensure utmost protection from becoming pregnant. When a woman misses even a single pill, it can reduce her protection against pregnancy significantly. In fact, the protection against pregnancy may also be diminished due to vomiting or diarrhea. In case any woman taking oral contraceptives suffer from the above mentioned symptoms, she should treat it as missing her last pill. In addition, several medications also interact with oral contraceptives and, hence, it is advisable that before you start taking any additional medication for treating any health condition, you should essentially tell your physician about the oral contraceptive you are already using.
To ensure conception as well as establish pregnancy, it is essential for both partners to have healthy reproductive tracts. While the man needs to produce vigorous sperm in adequate numbers, the woman should also have the aptitude to generate a healthy egg that can freely pass through the fallopian tube and reach the uterus. In addition, the uterus lining should also be in an excellent condition to let the fertilized egg be embedded in the uterus.
While physicians sometimes fail to ascertain the reason behind infertility in specific individuals, in most instances, it has been found that factors like man generating very few or feeble sperm; failure of the woman to release eggs (ovulate); mistimed sexual intercourse (possibly during the woman's menstrual cycle); or blocked fallopian tubes due to an earlier pelvic infection may be responsible for infertility.
Generally physicians will not start any investigation to find the reasons for a woman's inability to conceive unless she has been having normal and regular sexual intercourse with her partner without using any contraceptive for a period of more than one year. Usually the first step of the investigation entails a meticulous medical assessment of the woman as well as her partner. In case, the physician is unable to detect any simple reason for infertility during the medical examination, he/ she will ask the man to undergo an analysis of his sperm to discover if he is generating sufficient number of healthy sperm. Simultaneously, the physician will undertake further investigation of the medical conditions of female partner. During these examinations, the physician will monitor ovulations as well as ask the woman to undergo blood tests to gauge her hormone levels all through her menstrual cycle. In case, the physician discovers that ovulation is not taking place, he/ she will ask the woman to undergo treatment using medicines that enhance fertility.
Use of fertility medications augments the possibility of ovulation by means of improving the intensity of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and pituitary hormones, which regulate ovulation or release of a mature egg. While the medication known as clomiphene invigorates the pituitary gland to produce more of these hormones, another medication called menotropins works to promote the maturation of the egg in a manner similar to that of FSH. On the other hand, action of the human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is akin to that of LH. This hormone works to activate the egg's release and also stimulates progesterone production once ovulation has occurred.
All these medicines may possible result in some minor side effects. While use of clomiphene may result in headache, nausea and hot flashes, HCG may cause headaches, weariness and mood swings. Similarly, menotropins may cause the ovaries to enlarge, thereby causing uneasiness in the abdomen, which may last for many days together.
Each of these medications also augments the chances of multiple births, more often than not twins. Use of clomiphene may also increase the risks of developing ovarian cysts. However, this condition is somewhat rare.
The kidneys produce urine, which is subsequently accumulated in the urinary bladder. The walls of the bladder stretch as urine continues to accumulate in it. This gradually builds up a pressure in the bladder. Ultimately, the stretching of the bladder walls invigorates the nerve endings present there, producing an urge to pass the urine. Under normal conditions, the sphincter (the muscle ring in the region of the neck of the bladder) keeps the urinary bladder shut till it loosens up on purpose permitting the urine to pass out of the body through the urethra.
The urinary tract can be affected by several disorders, cystitis (infection of the urinary bladder), benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), urethritis (infection of the urethra) and urinary incontinence (involuntary urination or lack of control over passing urine) being the most widespread. Several different types of medications, counting analgesics and antibiotics, are used to treat these disorders. In addition, physicians also prescribe drugs that act on the nerves that regulate the muscles of the sphincter as well as the urinary bladder.
When the bladder is infected, especially by bacteria, it results in a number of symptoms, including a burning sensation while urinating, urge to pass urine too often, passing urine in small amounts, and occasionally pain in the lower abdominal region.
Usually, physicians prescribe antibiotics to treat bladder infection. The most common antibiotics used for eliminating bladder infection include amoxicillin and co-trimoxazole, which may be prescribed in a single large dose or recommended for longer courses. In addition, other antibiotics like cephalosporins, nitrofurantoin and quinolones are also used for treating infections of the bladder.
The symptoms related to bladder infection may also be alleviated by using phenazopyridine, a urinary analgesic, which accrues in the urine and comforts the linings of the urethra and bladder. Often, this medication is used together with an appropriate antibacterial medication.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition wherein the enlargement of the prostate gland is non-cancerous in nature. This condition generally affects older men, who experience frequent urge to urinate, a weak or intermittent urinary stream, dribbling and failure to drain the bladder completely as well as hindrance or hesitation on beginning urination. Nevertheless, it is important to treat severe types of BPH accompanied with obstruction surgically, while using medications may aid in curing milder forms of BPH. Prostate enlargement can be treated using a medication that obstructs the action of androgen and called finasteride. On the other hand, alpha-adrenergic blocking agents help to reduce the muscle tone encircling the bladder and prostate.
There are several reasons for urinary incontinence or lack of control over passing urine. Feeble muscles of the sphincter are responsible for letting involuntary urine passage when the pressure on the abdomen is increased due to physical exertion or even coughing. This condition is also called stress incontinence and it usually affects women who have already given birth to children. Urgency or the impetuous need to pass urine occurs due to augmented sensitivity of the muscles of the bladder. On the other hand, little amounts of urine in the bladder increase the impulse for frequent urination.
In addition, urinary incontinence may also take place owing to neurological problems like multiple sclerosis, wherein the nerves of the patient lose control in regulating the voluntary actions. Children may suffer from nocturnal enuresis, a type of urinary incontinence wherein they are unable to have power over urination during the night.
It is neither appropriate nor necessary to undergo medical treatment for all types of urinary incontinence. In the case of stress incontinence, simply undertaking regular work-outs that help to make the muscles of the pelvic floor stronger or undergoing surgery to make the stretched ligaments tighter may help to solve the problem. On the other hand, draining the bladder at regular intervals may help to cure urgency even without undergoing medical therapy. Use of antispasmodic and anticholinergic medications may help to lessen the rate at which urine is passed by people enduring urgency. These medications help to trim down the messages sent by the nerve endings in the bladder muscles, letting larger volumes of urine to accrue in the bladder and still not arouse the urge to urinate frequently.
Usually childhood enuresis does not require any medical treatment. However, if one decides to treat this condition using medications, they should preferably use desmopressin nasal spray, a medication derived artificially from anti-diuretic hormone. There was a time when physicians frequently prescribed tricyclic antidepressants to treat bedwetting, but now these medications are used seldom, primarily owing to the risks of adverse effects associated with them.
The inability of the urinary bladder leads to a disorder known as urinary retention. Generally, this condition occurs owing to the malfunctioning of the muscles of the urinary bladder to constrict adequately to force out the urine accumulated in the bladder. The reasons that may possibly be responsible for the condition include prolonged neurological disorder, tumour or enlarged prostate gland.
In majority of instances, urinary retention should be relieved by putting in a catheter (tube) into the urethra. In some cases, the patient may even require surgery to put off the problem from recurring. In addition, using a para-sympathomimetic medication called bethanechol, which enhances the strength of the urinary bladder muscle to contract, may provide relief from urinary retention after a surgery. However, this medicine is not appropriate for long-term treatment.