Really well done Hannah! Well researched and well written

Essay Question
5i) The first stage of the menstrual cycle, where Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which is from the anterior pituitary, stimulates and develops the Graafian follicle. Oestrogen is produced by the Graafian follicle, and this starts the repair of the endometrium. When this oestrogen level reaches a certain point there is a surge in Luteinising Hormone (LH) (and FSH) from the anterior pituitary, which triggers ovulation.
ii) This is the second stage of the menstrual cycle. LH stimulates the Graafian follicle, which becomes the corpus luteum - this secretes progesterone and oestrogen. The rise in these hormones further stimulates the repair and development of the endometrium, making it thick and spongey and ready for a fertilised egg. The rise also has an effect on the anterior pituitary, and FSH and LH levels drop - this is so no new follicles develop during this time. The lack of LH triggers the degeneration of the corpus luteum, and there is a drop in the oestrogen and progesterone. The endometrium is no longer being maintained and so menstruation begins - the lining breaks down and a small volume of blood is lost.

Male Infertility

The inability to conceive a child after trying to for over a year without contraception. There are two types - Primary Infertility and Secondary Infertility.
Primary - Pregnancy has never occured
- Most common - affects more than 15% of couples attempting first pregnancy
Secondary - A pregnancy has been conceived in the past but after trying for a year a pregnancy has not occured againexternal image male_anatomy_side.gif
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  • Blockages in the sperm duct - groin surgery, injury to scrotum, infection (e.g. chlamydia, gonorrhoea, tuberculosis)
  • Injuries and disease related to testes
  • Varicocele - Swelling in the veins at the top of the scrotum
  • Sperm disorders - problems with number, movement and shape of sperm
  • Genetic disorders - chromosomal problems (e.g. Klinefelter's syndrome)
  • Hormonal problems - problems with testosterone production, pituitary gland/hypothalamus
  • Environmental factors - toxins and radiation
  • Problems with erections and ejactulation - erectile disfunction, premature ejeculation and failure to ejectulate
  • Drugs and alcohol abuse


  • For many men, it cannot be treated, especially if the infertility is caused by a genetic problem
  • If it is due to a hormonal problem it might be treatable with medication, however this is quite rare.
  • If the problem is because of a varicocele, it can be treatd with surgery (varicocele ligation)
  • ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) - a single sperm is directly injected into an egg, used on males with low sperm count as it ensures the sperm reches the egg. It is sometimes used with IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
  • IVF - egg cells are fertlised by sperm outside of the body, the zygote is then placed in the female's uterus to allow pregnancy as normal (children are known as "test tube babies")
  • There are also ways in which men can help themselves, such as having a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, not smoking/taking drugs, reducing stress, not drinking too much and keeping a healthy weight


Female Infertility

Failure to conceive a pregnancy after a full year of trying without contraception.Accounts for 40% of all infertility.
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  • Tubal Problems:
- Affects approx. 25% of infertile couples
- Infection
- Abdominal Diseases
- Previous Surgery
- Ectopic Pregnancy - Pregnancy has occured in the tube, it is potentially life threatening and if overcome it can cause tubal damage
- Congenital Defects - Rare, women can be born with tubal abnormalities, usually associated with uterus irregularities
  • Ovulation Problems:
- Hormonal Problems - Failure to produce mature eggs, problems with hypothalamus or pituitary gland
- Scarred Ovaries
- Premature Menopause
- Follicle Problems
  • Endometriosis:
- Affects around 10% of infertile couples
- The monthly chance of getting pregnant drops by 12 - 36%
- Excessive growth in the endometrium, oviducts and ovaries
- Heavy, painful and long menstruation
  • Diet - Being significantly overweight or underweight
  • Smoking
  • Abuse of Alcohol
  • Taking Recreational Drugs
  • Environmental Factors:
    - Lead
    - Exposure to radiation

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  • Drugs - Stimulate ovulation
  • In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) - Egg cells fertilised outside the body in a lab, then the embryo is implanted in the uterus
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - Small amount of concentrated sperm is placed in the uterus using a thin plastic catheter. Used in combination with fertility drugs.
  • Surgery



Used to prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilisation and implantation. This is done through several methods, including drugs and different devices.


  • Condom - Trap the sperm after ejeculation, preventing the sperm from reaching the vagina and fertilisation occuring. Also provides protection from STIs.
  • Vasectomy (sterilisation) - An operation in which the sperm ducts are cut. This prevents the sperm entering the semen and therefore leaving the penis. It is a permanent form of contraception.
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  • The Pill - The most popular method of birth control. Hormonal method of contraception. The Pill contains 2 hormones - an oestrogen and a progestogen, which prevent ovulation, thicken the mucus around the cervix (which makes it more difficult for sperm to get through) and make the lining of the womb thinner (meaning it is less likely for an egg to stay there) external image istockphoto_183301_the_pill.jpg(Picture from:
  • Sterilisation - An operation in which the oviduct is blocked or cut. This prevents the eggs from getting through.
  • The "Coil" (Intrauterine Devices - IUDs) - And IUD is placed in the womb and prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm entering the womb and the tubes, aletering the mucus secretion in the cervix and affect the womb lining (making it more difficult for an egg to attach)
  • Skin Patch - Releases hormones into the skin, similar to The Pill.
  • Female Condom ("Femidom") - Works like a male condom - is placed inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering and fertilisation occuring.

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Heart Disease

Myocardial infarction (Heart attack) - Caused by a clot in the coronary artery, which stops blood flow to the heart - this means the heart is deprived of oxygen. If the heart muscle is not receiving oxygen the cells will eventually die. The symptoms include severe chest pain (that feels like a pressure on the chest), sweating, feeling sick, fainting and feeling out of breath. Men tend to have stronger, more obvious symptoms, while women have less notic
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eable ones. Heart attacks are common, as around 146000 people in the UK have one each year.

Atherosclerosis - A build up of atheromas (fatty plaque - made of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in the blood) in the arteries. The plaque hardens and blocks the arteries - which deprives the heart of blood and therefore oxygen. This means the cells are not getting the correct amount of oxygen so they will eventually die or a blood clot can occur is the plaque burts, which completely blocks the blood supply to the organs (such as the heart) that need it. Atherosclerosis does not have any noticeable symtoms until it reaches a higher and more dangerous stage, so it is difficult to know how many people suffer from it but it is known that it is more common in people over 40 years old, as the arteries get naturally harder as the person gets older. Also, it is more common in men - this is thought to be due to the female sex hormones like oestrogen.

Angina - A severe pain across the chest that is caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle. It is mainly due to narrowed coronary arteries caused by atherosclerosis and it can happen because of stress or lack of oxygen during exercise as the heart needs to pump blood faster around the body at these times and if the artery is narrower then it will be harder to pump the blood around. Angina feels like a pressure/heaviness on the chest, a tightening of the chest or an aching of the chest. This pain can also be felt in the jaw, arms, back, neck and stomach. It usually lasts between 1-15 minutes and is relieved by rest or medication if it is a milder case. Around 20000 people in the UK each year develop it for the first time and it is more common in people over 50.


  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Stress

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  • Coronary by-pass surgery
  • Medicine - glyceryl trinitrate, betablocker drug, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drug
  • Asprin - reduces the clotting of blood/platelets (thins it out)
  • Angioplasty - wire is put inside the space in the blocked artery and is blown up in the narrow part and opens the artery up more. A can then be inserted to keep the artery open and stop it blocking again
  • Lifestyle changes


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Blood Pressure

The force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as it is being pumped round the body. The blood pressure is at its highest during ventricular systole (when the heart is beating and pumping blood) and lowest during ventricular diastole (when the heart is at rest, between beats). It is measured by using a sphygmomanometer and is written as the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure e.g. 120/80mmHg


Also known as High Blood Pressure. It is a problem that can increase your chance of having heart disease, such as a heart attack. High Blood Pressure is when the blood pressure is measured as at least 140/90mmHg each time it is taken and it can be just high systolic pressure, just high diastolic pressure or both. It is quite common as in the UK around half of 65 year olds and above have it, around 1 in 4 middle aged adults and it is less common in younger adults. Some one with diabetes or who recently had a stroke or heart attack will also have a higher chance of high blood pressure.


Lymphatic System

Another circularory system that has 3 main roles:
  • Drains tissue fluid back into the bloodstream
  • Filters lymph
  • Fights infections
For proper cellular function our bodies need substances like glucose, gases, useful ions and proteins, these are all dissolved into the tissue fluid of our bodies. Thus liquid filters through the capillaries at high pressure into the surrounding tissue. The excess fluid is absorbed from the tissue by lymphatic vessels, and this is called lymph. Lymph is pushed through the lymphatic ducts by muscular contractions, rather than a heart beat and is transported back into the bloodstream.
The lacteal in villi absorbs the products of fat digestion, through this droplets of fat enter the lymphatic system then indirectly enter the blood stream.
Lymph nodes act as lymphatic filters that remove any unwanted materials, like destoryed bacteria and bacteria. They are in clusters around the neck, chest, abdomen, groin and underarm areas. When the body is suffering from infection these nodes can swell up if they become infected. They are the site of lymphocyte and antibody production, so they are essential to the immune system and the wellbeing of the body.


A digestive fluid made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, it is important in the digestion of lipids. It is made up of cholesterol, lecithin, pigments and salts. Bile emulsifies (binds) with fats and turns them into small lipid droplets so they can be absorbed by the small intestine.