Health Topics

Female reproductive system

Anatomy
National Library of Medicine

Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. On this page, you'll find links to descriptions and pictures of the human body's parts and organ systems from head to toe.


Anatomy
Digestive System
Blood, Heart and Circulation
Eyes and Vision
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Kidneys and Urinary System
Brain and Nerves
Lungs and Breathing
Ear, Nose and Throat
Mouth and Teeth
Skin, Hair and Nails
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Immune System
Endocrine System
Male Reproductive System
Anatomy is the science that studies the structure of the body. On this page, you'll find links to descriptions and pictures of the human body's parts and organ ...
Pregnancy
National Library of Medicine

You're going to have a baby! It's an exciting time, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions, including what you can do to give your baby a healthy start. To keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy, it is important to

  • Have regular visits with your health care provider. These prenatal care visits help make sure that you and your baby are healthy. And if there are any health problems, your provider can find them early. Getting treatment right away can cure many problems and prevent others.
  • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Good nutrition during pregnancy includes eating a variety of
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Lean meats or other protein sources
    • Low-fat dairy products
  • Take prenatal vitamins. Pregnant women need higher amounts of certain vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and iron.
  • Be careful with medicines. Always check with your health care provider before you start or stop any medicine. This includes over-the-counter medicines and dietary or herbal supplements.
  • Stay active. Physical activity can help you stay strong, feel and sleep better, and prepare your body for birth. Check with your provider about which types of activities are right for you.
  • Avoid substances that could hurt your baby, such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Your body will keep changing as your baby grows. It can be hard to know whether a new symptom is normal or could be a sign of a problem. Check with your health care provider if something is bothering or worrying you.


Pregnancy
Women
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
You're going to have a baby! It's an exciting time, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming. You may have a lot of questions, including what you can do to ...
Sexual Problems in Women
National Library of Medicine
Dyspareunia
Female Circumcision
Female Sexual Dysfunction
Vaginismus

There are many problems that can keep a woman from enjoying sex. They include

  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Inability to become aroused
  • Lack of orgasm, or sexual climax
  • Painful intercourse

These problems may have physical or psychological causes. Physical causes may include conditions like diabetes, heart disease, nerve disorders, or hormone problems. Some drugs can also affect desire and function. Psychological causes may include work-related stress and anxiety. They may also include depression or concerns about marriage or relationship problems. For some women, the problem results from past sexual trauma.

Occasional problems with sexual function are common. If problems last more than a few months or cause distress for you or your partner, you should see your health care provider.


Vaginismus
Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological
Dyspareunia
Women
Sexual Health Issues
Female Reproductive System
There are many problems that can keep a woman from enjoying sex. They include Lack of sexual desire Inability to become aroused Lack of orgasm, or sexual climax ...
Ovarian Cancer
National Library of Medicine

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and female hormones. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond.

Cancer of the ovary is not common, but it causes more deaths than other female reproductive cancers. The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better your chance for recovery. But ovarian cancer is hard to detect early. Women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or just mild symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage. Then it is hard to treat. Symptoms may include

  • A heavy feeling in the pelvis
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Abnormal periods
  • Unexplained back pain that gets worse
  • Gas, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite

To diagnose ovarian cancer, doctors do one or more tests. They include a physical exam, a pelvic exam, lab tests, ultrasound, or a biopsy. Treatment is usually surgery followed by chemotherapy.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Ovarian Neoplasms
Cancers
Women
Endocrine System
Female Reproductive System
The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and female hormones. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. Cancer of the ...
Ovarian Cysts
National Library of Medicine

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and make female hormones. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in or on an ovary. They usually form during ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg. They are usually harmless and go away by themselves. Most women have them sometime during their lives.

Most ovarian cysts are small and don't cause symptoms. Women may not find out that they have them until they have a pelvic exam. If there are symptoms, they may include

  • Pressure
  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, on the side where the cyst is

If your health care provider finds a cyst, you may be able to wait to see if it gets bigger. You may need surgery if you have pain, are past menopause, or if the cyst does not go away. If a cyst bursts or causes bleeding, you should get medical help right away. Birth control pills can help prevent new cysts.

Rarely, ovarian cysts can become cancerous. This risk increases as you get older.

A health problem that involves ovarian cysts is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS can have high levels of male hormones, irregular or no periods, and small ovarian cysts.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Ovarian Cysts
Women
Endocrine System
Female Reproductive System
The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and make female hormones. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs in or on an ovary. They usually ...
Menstruation
National Library of Medicine
Amenorrhea
Menses
Menstrual period
Period

Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. The menstrual blood is partly blood and partly tissue from inside the uterus. It passes out of the body through the vagina.

Periods usually start between age 11 and 14 and continue until menopause at about age 51. They usually last from three to five days. Besides bleeding from the vagina, you may have

  • Abdominal or pelvic cramping pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Bloating and sore breasts
  • Food cravings
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Headache and fatigue

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that start before the period. It can include emotional and physical symptoms.

Consult your health care provider if you have big changes in your cycle. They may be signs of other problems that should be treated.

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Menstruation
Menstruation Disturbances
Women
Endocrine System
Female Reproductive System
Menstruation, or period, is normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman's monthly cycle. Every month, your body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy ...
Menopause
National Library of Medicine
Change of Life
Hot Flashes
Perimenopause
Premature Menopause

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her period stops. It usually occurs naturally, most often after age 45. Menopause happens because the woman's ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for one year. Changes and symptoms can start several years earlier. They include

  • A change in periods - shorter or longer, lighter or heavier, with more or less time in between
  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble focusing
  • Less hair on head, more on face

Some symptoms require treatment. Talk to your doctor about how to best manage menopause. Make sure the doctor knows your medical history and your family medical history. This includes whether you are at risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, or breast cancer.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Menopause
Women
Seniors
Female Reproductive System
Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her period stops. It usually occurs naturally, most often after age 45. Menopause happens because the woman's ovaries ...
Hysterectomy
National Library of Medicine

A hysterectomy is surgery to remove a woman's uterus or womb. The uterus is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. After a hysterectomy, you no longer have menstrual periods and can't become pregnant. Sometimes the surgery also removes the ovaries and fallopian tubes. If you have both ovaries taken out, you will enter menopause.

Your health care provider might recommend a hysterectomy if you have

  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis that hasn't been cured by medicine or surgery
  • Uterine prolapse - when the uterus drops into the vagina
  • Cancer of the uterine, cervix, or ovaries
  • Vaginal bleeding that persists despite treatment
  • Chronic pelvic pain, as a last resort

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Hysterectomy
Women
Surgery and Rehabilitation
Female Reproductive System
A hysterectomy is surgery to remove a woman's uterus or womb. The uterus is the place where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. After a hysterectomy, ...
Female Infertility
National Library of Medicine
Infertility, Female

Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying (or 6 months if the woman is over age 35). If a woman keeps having miscarriages, it is also called infertility. Female infertility can result from age, physical problems, hormone problems, and lifestyle or environmental factors.

Most cases of infertility in women result from problems with producing eggs. In primary ovarian insufficiency, the ovaries stop functioning before natural menopause. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the ovaries may not release an egg regularly or they may not release a healthy egg.

About a third of the time, infertility is because of a problem with the woman. One third of the time, it is a problem with the man. Sometimes no cause can be found.

If you think you might be infertile, see your doctor. There are tests that may tell if you have fertility problems. When it is possible to find the cause, treatments may include medicines, surgery, or assisted reproductive technologies. Happily, many couples treated for infertility are able to have babies.

Dept. of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health


Infertility, Female
Women
Pregnancy and Reproduction
Female Reproductive System
Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying (or 6 months if the woman is over age 35). If a woman keeps having miscarriages, ...
Ovarian Disorders
National Library of Medicine
Ovarian Insufficiency

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond.

The ovaries produce and store a woman's eggs. During ovulation, an ovary releases an egg. If that egg is fertilized by a sperm, a pregnancy can occur. Ovaries also make the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. When a woman goes through menopause, her ovaries stop making those hormones and releasing eggs.

Problems with the ovaries include

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Ovarian torsion, a twisting of the ovary

Ovarian Diseases
Women
Female Reproductive System
The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. ...