Concluding Remarks

It may seem strange to end a textbook on physiology with the topics of pregnancy and parturition. This is done in part for practical reasons; these topics are complex,and to understand them requires a grounding in subjects covered earlier. Also, it seems appropriate to end at the beginning, at the start of a new life. Although generations of researchers have accumulated an impressive body of knowledge, the study of physiology is still young and rapidly growing. I hope that this introductory textbook will serve students' immediate practical needs as a resource for understanding current applications, and that it will provide a good foundation for a lifetime of further study.

HPer Links of the Reproductive System with Other Body Systems

Integumentary System

• The skin serves as a sexual stimulant and helps to protect the body from pathogens (p. 446)

• Sex hormones affect the distribution of body hair, deposition of subcutaneous fat, and other secondary sexual characteristics (p. 642)

Skeletal System

• The pelvic girdle supports and protects some reproductive organs (p. 654)

• Sex hormones stimulate bone growth and maintenance (p. 625)

Muscular System

• Contractions of smooth muscles aid the movement of gametes (p. 651)

• Contractions of the myometrium aid labor and delivery (p. 674)

• Cremaster muscles help to maintain proper temperature of the testes (p. 637)

• Testosterone promotes an increase in muscle mass (p. 291)

Nervous System

Autonomic nerves innervate the organs of male reproduction to stimulate erection and ejaculation (p. 651)

Autonomic nerves promote aspects of the human sexual response (p. 643)

The CNS, acting through the pituitary, coordinates different aspects of reproduction (p. 640)

The limbic system of the brain is involved in sexual drive (p. 201)

Gonadal sex hormones influence brain activity (p. 644)

Endocrine System

• The anterior pituitary controls the activity of the gonads (p. 640)

• Testosterone secreted by the testes maintains the structure and function of the male reproductive system (p. 637)

• Estradiol and progesterone secreted by the ovaries regulates the female accessory sex organs, including the endometrium of the uterus (p. 662)

• Hormones secreted by the placenta are needed to maintain a pregnancy . .(p. 670)

• Prolactin and oxytocin are required for production of breast milk and the milk-ejection reflex (p. 677)

Circulatory System

• The circulatory system transports oxygen and nutrients to the reproductive organs (p. 366)

• The fetal circulation permits the fetus to obtain oxygen and nutrients from the placenta (p. 672)

• Estrogen secreted by the ovaries helps to raise the level of HDL-cholesterol carriers in the blood, lowering the risk of atherosclerosis (p. 396)

Immune System

• The immune system protects the body, including the reproductive system, against infections (p. 446)

• The blood-testis barrier prevents the immune system from attacking sperm in the testes (p. 647)

• The placenta is an immunologically privileged site; it is protected against rejection by the mother's immune system (p. 670)

Respiratory System

• The lungs provide oxygen for all body systems, including the reproductive system, and provide for the elimination of carbon dioxide (p. 480)

• The red blood cells of a fetus contain hemoglobin F, which has a high affinity for oxygen (p. 508)

Urinary System

• The kidneys regulate the volume, pH, and electrolyte balance of the blood and eliminate wastes (p. 524)

• The male urethra transports urine as well as semen (p. 650)

Digestive System

• The GI tract provides nutrients for all of the organs of the body, including those of the reproductive system (p. 561)

• Nutrients obtained from the GI tract of the mother can cross the placenta to the embryo and fetus (p. 672)

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