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Disorders Related To Reproductive System: Symptoms, Causes and Its Treatments

Disorders Related To Reproductive System: Symptoms, Causes and Its Treatments

Do you think reproduction is essential for an organism to survive? Well, the answer to this would be that reproduction is not essential for an organism to survive but is of utmost significance for the continuation of a species on Earth. 

Do you remember Darwin’s theory of natural selection? According to Darwin, the  reproductive fitness of a species plays the most important role in its survival against a changing environment. Reproductive fitness is the ability of an organism to reproduce and give birth to healthy and fertile offspring. Higher the reproductive fitness of an organism, more are its chances of being naturally selected and surviving in a challenging environment.

So what happens if an organism is not able to reproduce? It will be reproductively less fit and will have lesser chances of being naturally selected over other members of the population in adverse conditions. This is because the purpose of every organism on this planet is to procreate and sustain life on the Earth. 

The ability to reproduce might be hampered due to many reasons, one of which can be the disorders in the reproductive system of an organism. Since the reproductive systems of male and female humans are different, the disorders that occur to them are also different. Some of these disorders might affect the body functions adversely and might be fatal while some can be cured easily. So let’s discuss more about the disorders related to the human reproductive system.

Table of Contents

Disorders of Female Reproductive System


Breast Cancer

We all know cancer is a disease in which the cells of our body grow uncontrollably. It may also spread to other parts. The uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast is called breast cancer. Depending upon the part of the breast that is affected, there are two major types of breast cancer. These are invasive ductal carcinoma and invasive lobular carcinoma. 

Invasive ductal carcinoma affects the ducts of the mammary gland. The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The cancer cells that begin in the ducts can spread to other parts of the breast or even to other parts of the body.

Invasive lobular carcinoma affects the lobules of the breast. Lobules are the glands that produce milk. This can also spread to other parts of the breast and from there to other parts of the body.

There are some other less common breast cancers like paget disease that affects the skin of the nipple and inflammatory breast cancer where the cancer cells block lymph vessels of the breast.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The primary symptom of breast cancer is a lump or thickening of the tissues. There will be a change in the size, shape or appearance of the breast. The skin around the nipple will be affected. As a result peeling, crushing or flaking of the highly pigmented area of the nipples occur. Redness of the skin over the breast is also a symptom of breast cancer.

Causes of Breast Cancer

The cause of breast cancer is not yet confirmed by the experts. But there are some risk factors that may increase the chance of occurrence of breast cancer. Some of them are, being in the age group above 55, hereditary factors, smoking and usage of alcohol, obesity etc.

Treatments for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer screening should be done to identify the cancer. The majority of women with breast cancer undergo surgery, and many of them also receive extra treatment afterward, such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or radiation. Chemotherapy may also be given before surgery in some cases.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is caused when the tissue that lines the inner wall of the uterus, i.e, the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. During menstruation, the blood discharged due to breakage of these tissues has no way to go out. This causes swelling or inflammation in the surrounding area which may result in scars and lesions.

There are mainly three types of endometriosis. They are superficial peritoneal lesions, endometrioma and deeply infiltrating endometriosis.

Superficial peritoneal lesions are the most common type of endometriosis. This will cause lesions on the peritoneal surface (lining of pelvic cavity). 

Endometrioma is also called Ovarian lesion. This is characterised by dark fluid-filled cysts present in the ovaries.

Deeply infiltrating endometriosis is the condition where the tissue grows under the peritoneum.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Since it affects the menstrual cycle, back pain and severe cramps during the periods are the major symptoms. Unusual bleeding during the periods is possible. Blood in the stool along with diarrhoea can occur. Constipation can also be a symptom of endometriosis. Trouble in getting pregnant is also one of the severe symptoms of endometriosis.

Causes of Endometriosis

One of the several causes of endometriosis is retrograde menstruation. It is the condition by which the menstrual blood passes back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. Here there is a chance for the cells to stick to the organs. Some of the genes that are inherited from the mother are also responsible for endometriosis. If someone in the family has endometriosis, the chances of getting it are 7 to 10 times higher. If one has endometriosis in their immediate family, such as mother, grandmother, or sister, then they are at the highest risk of having the disease.

Treatments for Endometriosis

There is no cure for this disease. Usually surgery or medication are suggested by the doctors. It is a painful disease. Hence non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are taken. Hormonal therapy to stop menstruation is a kind of treatment. 

Cervical Cancer

The cancer of the cervix is called cervical cancer. Cervix is the part of the female reproductive system which connects the vagina and upper part of the uterus. All women have the risk of getting cervical cancer after the age of 30. Most cervical cancers are caused due to the human papillomavirus or HPV. It can be considered as a sexually transmitted infection because HPV infection is mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse.

The two major types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Most of the cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma is the type of cervical cancer that begins in the squamous cells covering the outer part of the cervix.

Adenocarcinoma is cervical cancer that begins in the column-shaped glandular cells which cover the cervical canal.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

In the early stages of cervical cancer no symptoms are shown. But in the more advanced stages the symptoms may include the bleeding from vagina during menstruation or after intercourse or even after menopause. Increased amount of vaginal discharge with foul smell is also a symptom of this disorder. Severe pelvic or back pain may also be caused.

Causes of Cervical Cancer

The mutation of healthy cells in the cervix is the major cause of cervical cancer. This mutation causes changes in the DNA as a result of which the uncontrolled division of cells happens. The role of HPV is also important in causing cervical cancer. But other factors like lifestyle choices and the environment also determine the chances of developing cervical cancer.

Preventive Measures for Cervical Cancer

HPV vaccine can reduce the risk of getting cervical cancer. Pap tests can detect the precancerous conditions. So taking a pap test can detect the cancer and medications can be taken. Safe sex can also reduce the chance of getting cervical cancer.

Treatments for Cervical Cancer

The cervix, uterus, portion of the vaginal wall, and adjacent lymph nodes are all removed during a radical hysterectomy operation for most early-stage cervical cancers. Early-stage cervical cancer can be cured with a hysterectomy but chances of the cancer recurring do remain. Newly damaged areas in the pelvic area and other elements of the reproductive system can be treated or removed using chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Ectopic Pregnancy

When the fertilised egg implants outside the uterus, the condition is known as ectopic pregnancy. Implantation can occur in the fallopian tube, in the ovary or in the abdominal cavity. If not treated in a right way, it can endanger the life of the mother.  Because ectopic pregnancy can burst open the fallopian tube. This will lead to shock and serious blood loss, which may lead to the death of the embryo. 

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

In the initial stages, the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include light vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, upset stomach and vomiting, sharp abdominal cramps, pain in neck, shoulder or rectum, dizziness or weakness.

Emergency symptoms include major pain, which may or may not be accompanied with severe bleeding. 

Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is caused when the fertilised egg gets stuck while moving towards the uterus due to damage in the fallopian tube caused by  inflammation or a misshapen fallopian tube.  Other causes of ectopic pregnancy can be hormonal imbalances or abnormal development of fertilised eggs.

Treatments for Ectopic Pregnancy

Pregnancy tests, ultrasound and some blood tests can detect the ectopic pregnancy. Surgeries like salpingostomy and salpingectomy are the best way to treat this. But early ectopic pregnancy can be treated with a medication called methotrexate. 

Disorders of Male Reproductive System


Hydrocele

A hydrocele is a scrotal enlargement caused by fluid collecting in the thin sheath that surrounds a testicle. Hydrocele is common in babies and normally goes away on its own by the age of one. A hydrocele can develop in older boys and adult men as a result of scrotal inflammation or damage.

Two kinds of hydrocele can be observed. They are Communicating hydrocele and non- communicating hydrocele.

A Communicating Hydrocele is one that is in contact with the fluids in the abdominal cavity. The failure of the processus vaginalis also causes a communicative hydrocele. Processus vaginalis is the thin membrane that extends through the inguinal canal (the canal which forms the passage for the descent of the testes from the abdomen into the scrotum) and into the scrotum. If this membrane remains open, both a hernia and a hydrocele can form. The scrotum of the child will appear swollen or enormous, and its size will fluctuate throughout the day. The swollen area may be smaller in the morning and grow bigger in size in the afternoon.

In Non-communicating Hydrocele the inguinal canal closes, but there is still excess fluid in the scrotum around the testicle. This disease could be present from birth or appear years later for no apparent reason. The size of a non-communicating hydrocele normally stays the same or grows slowly.

Symptoms of Hydrocele

A painless enlargement of one or both testicles is the only sign of a hydrocele. The weight of a large scrotum may cause discomfort in adult males with hydrocele. The magnitude of the inflammation usually causes more pain. 

Causes of Hydrocele

Causes of hydrocele differ in both baby boys and adult males. In baby boys a hydrocele may develop before birth. 

The testicles normally descend into the scrotum from the developing baby's abdominal cavity. Each testicle has a sac that allows fluid to surround the testicles. Each sac normally shuts and the fluid is absorbed. Sometimes even after the sac closes, the fluid may remain. This fluid might leak back into the abdomen if the sac changes size or if the scrotal sac is squeezed. Inguinal hernia is frequently linked with communicating hydroceles.

But in adult males a hydrocele can form as a result of a scrotal injury or infection. An infection in the testicle or in the small, coiled tube at the back of each testicle could cause inflammation.

Treatments for Hydrocele

A hydrocele cannot be treated with medication. Surgical correction of a hydrocele is frequently unnecessary. A hydrocele usually disappears on its own after six to twelve months. If the hydrocele does not heal on its own, surgical treatment is required to avoid further complications.

Prostatitis

Prostate gland is the part of male reproductive system which adds an alkaline solution to the semen. Prostatitis is the disorder caused by the inflammation of the prostate gland. It causes painful urination and pain in the genitals. Some types of prostatitis are caused by bacterial infections. 

The four types of prostatitis are acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis.

Acute bacterial prostatitis is caused by the bacterial infection of the prostate gland. It will have sudden or severe symptoms.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is caused by the ongoing or recurring bacterial infection. It will usually have less severe symptoms.

Chronic pelvic pain syndrome is a non bacterial prostatitis. It causes long term pelvic pain. The patient will also have some lower urinary tract infections. But there will be no evidence of bacterial infection. 

Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis will not show any particular symptoms in the patients but they will have signs of an inflamed prostate.

Symptoms of Prostatitis

Some of the symptoms of prostatitis are the pain or burning sensations during urination, frequent urination, presence of blood in the urine, painful ejaculation, pain in the area between scrotum and rectum, fever, flu like symptoms etc.

Causes of Prostatitis

The major cause of the prostatitis is the bacterial infection from common strains of bacteria. The infection from the prostate gland may spread to other urinary and reproductive parts of the body.

Treatments for Prostatitis

Treatment of prostatitis depends on the type of prostatitis. For the acute bacterial prostatitis, antibiotics are prescribed. For chronic bacterial prostatitis medication called alpha-blockers are suggested. It helps to relax the bladder and thereby makes the urination easy.

Cryptorchidism 

The condition in which the testes in males do not descend into the scrotum before birth is known as Cryptorchidism. It is common among premature baby boys. But after a few months of birth the undescended testicle moves into the proper position. If the undescended testicle has not corrected itself, then surgery is needed for the relocation. When both testes do not descend, cryptorchidism leads to infertility. There are also risk of developing testicular cancer, inguinal hernia, testicular torsion (occurs when testicle rotates) and emotional stress due to cryptorchidism.

Symptoms of Cryptorchidism 

The major symptom is the absence of the testicle in the scrotum after a few months of the birth.

Causes of Cryptorchidism 

The exact cause of cryptorchidism is unknown. The genetics, maternal health and some other environmental factors can cause the disorder. These factors can disrupt the hormones and thereby it can change nerve activities that support the development of testicles.

Treatments for Cryptorchidism

If the testicle won't drop into the scrotum after 3 months, then a surgery called Orchiopexy is needed. Drugs or hormone treatments are not useful for this. This is done when the child is able to handle anaesthesia.

Prostate Carcinoma or Prostate Cancer

When the cells of the prostate gland divide uncontrollably, then the condition is known as prostate carcinoma or prostrate cancer. It is one of the most common cancers. Prostate cancers are mostly confined to the prostate gland and won't cause any serious harm. However, there are some prostate cancers which can spread to other parts of the body and become aggressive.

Symptoms of Prostate carcinoma

During the initial stages there are no symptoms. The advanced stages of prostate cancer show symptoms like trouble in urinating, blood in urine, blood in semen, weight loss, pain in the bone, erectile dysfunction etc.

Causes of Prostate Carcinoma

The major cause of prostate cancer is unknown. The factors like hormonal imbalance and unhealthy diet can adversely affect prostate cancer by producing more testosterone. The high levels of testosterone may stimulate dormant cancer cells and make them divide more.

Treatments for Prostate Carcinoma

The major treatments of prostate cancer include surgery and radiation therapy. If the cancer has spread from the prostate gland to other body parts, then medications are needed to take to destroy those cancer along with treatments like external radiation and brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy).

Disorder Common to Male and Female Reproductive System


Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernia is caused when tissues bulge out or protrude through weak spots in the abdominal muscles. Sometimes inguinal hernia in females occurs when a part of female reproductive structures such as ovaries bulges through the abdominal muscles. In males if a small part of the intestine drops into the scrotum along with the testis through the inguinal canal then it is said to be inguinal hernia. 

Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia

There will be a bulge in the area of the pubic bone which causes pain and discomfort while bending over, coughing or lifting. The patient will feel more pressure in the groyne.

Causes of Inguinal Hernia

Some inguinal hernia has no apparent cause. But some of the inguinal hernia may be due to an already existing weak spot in the abdominal wall. Strenuous activities and pregnancy can also cause inguinal hernia. Sometimes chronic coughing and sneezing may even cause this.

Treatments for Inguinal Hernia

The major treatment is the surgery of inguinal hernia. This is done with a procedure called laparoscopy.

Practice Problems of Disorders Related to Reproductive System

Question 1. Which of the following is correct?

A. Breast cancer Female  Uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast. 
B. Prostatitis  Female  Inflammation of the prostate gland.
C. Cryptorchidism Male  Fluid collects in the thin sheath that surrounds a testicle
D. Cervical cancer Female  Caused due to the HPV.

a. A, B, C, D
b. A and D
c. B,C,D
d. B and C

Solution: Breast cancer is found mostly in females. The uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast is called breast cancer. Cervical cancer is also found in females. The cancer of the cervix is called cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused due to the Human papillomavirus or HPV. It can be considered as a sexually transmitted infection.

Prostatitis occurs in males and is caused due to inflammation of the prostrate gland.

Cryptorchidism is a disorder in males in which the testes do not descend into the scrotum before birth.

Hence the correct option is b.

Question 2. Match the following.

Column I Column II
  1. Inguinal hernia
I. Occurs due to scrotal inflammation in older men.
  1. Hydrocele
II. Tissue lining the inner wall of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
  1. Endometriosis
III. A bulge in the area of the pubic bone which causes pain and discomfort while bending over, coughing or lifting.

a. A - II, B - I, C - III
b. A - III, B - I, C - II
c. A - I, B - III, C - II
d. A - III, B - II, C - I

Solution: Inguinal hernia is caused when tissues bulge out or protrude through weak spots in the abdominal muscles. Symptoms include a painful bulge in the pubic bone region which causes extreme discomfort while bending over, coughing or lifting.

Hydrocele is caused due to accumulation of fluid in the thin sheath surrounding the testicles. In adult males, hydrocele can occur due to scrotal injury, infection or inflammation.

Endometriosis occurs in human females when the endometrium, that is the inner lining of the uterus, grows beyond and outside the uterus.

Hence the correct option is b.

Question 3. Explain cryptorchidism.

Answer: The condition by which the testicle will be undescended into the scrotum is known as cryptorchidism. It is common among premature baby boys. But after a few months of birth the undescended testicle moves into the proper position. If the undescended testicle has not corrected itself, then surgery is needed for the relocation. The exact cause of cryptorchidism is unknown. The genetics, maternal health and some other environmental factors can cause the disorder. These factors can disrupt the hormones and thereby it can change nerve activities that support the development of testicles.

Question 4. What are the two major types of cervical cancer?

Answer: The cancer of the cervix is called cervical cancer. The two major types of cervical cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Most of the cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma is the type of cervical cancer that begins in the squamous cells covering the outer part of the cervix. Adenocarcinoma is the cervical cancer that begins in the column shaped glandular cells which covers the cervical canal.

FAQs of Disorders Related to Reproductive System

Question 1. Why is cervical cancer known as a silent killer?

Answer: Cervical cancer is known as the "silent killer" since it does not show signs until it is advanced. It does, however, progress slowly over time, giving women plenty of opportunities to detect and treat the disease. According to the NCCC, pre-cancer screening reduces cancer deaths in the United States by 2% each year. Pre-cancers are abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix that progress to the lethal form of cancer; pre-cancers can be treated before this happens if they are found in screens. The earlier in the disease's progression that it is detected, the easier it is to stop.

Question 2. Which flower symbolises endometriosis ?

Answer: Endometriosis is symbolised by the golden wattle, Australia's national flower. Wattle is well-suited to droughts, winds, and bushfires in Australia. Wattle's resilience embodies the spirit of endometriosis survivors. The plant itself can tolerate a lot of abuse and still grow strong, but its blossoms are delicate and tender. The wattle's strength and delicacy depict the power and femininity of endometriosis sufferers. Endometriosis' international awareness colour is yellow.

Question 3. What is hydrocelectomy?

Answer: If the hydroceles does not go away after a few months, surgery may be required. A hydrocelectomy is a surgical treatment that is commonly used to repair the condition. Although needle drainage is an option, the fluid may return. Then a procedure known as hydrocelectomy or hydrocele correction is done. The enlargement of the scrotum that happens when you have a hydrocele is treated with this procedure. A cut is made on the scrotum during this procedure. After removing part of the hydrocele sac, the surgeon drains the fluid.

Question 4. Does PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen indicate prostate cancer?

Answer: Prostate cancer can be detected by elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. It could also be a sign of noncancerous issues such as prostate enlargement and inflammation, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an infection. PSA levels rise naturally as you get older. PSA values above a certain threshold do not necessarily indicate prostate cancer.

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Related Topics to Human Reproductive System Disorders in BIology

NCERT Class 12 Biology Chapters

Reproduction In Organisms Sexual Reproduction Flowering Plants Human Reproduction
Reproductive Health Principles of Inheritance Variation Molecular Basis of Inheritance
Evolution Human Health and Diseases Strategies for Food Enhancement in Reproduction
Microbes in Human Welfare Solutions Biotechnology Principles and Processes Biotechnology and Its Applications
Organisms and Populations Ecosystem Biodiversity and its Conservation
Environmental Issues
 
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