Reproductive system and foods beneficial for fertility
Human reproductive system, the organ system that allows people to procreate and carry living children. The basic aspects of human reproduction are
- The release of an ovum, or egg, at a certain period in the reproductive cycle.
- Internal fertilization of the ovum by spermatozoa (sperm cells).
- Transportation of the fertilized ovum to the uterus, or womb.
- Implantation of the blastocyst, or early embryo formed from the fertilized ovum, in the uterine wall.
- Development of a placenta and care of the unborn child during the gestation period.
- Delivery of the child and evacuation of the placenta.
- Suckling and infant care, with the maternal organs, eventually returning to almost their former state.
Certain organs and tissues are necessary in both the male and female for this biological process to take place. The female ovary is the source of ova (female germ cells), whereas the testis is the source of spermatozoa (male germ cells. Females have their ovaries in the pelvic cavity, whereas males have their testes enclosed in a skin sac called the scrotum, which is positioned below and outside the abdomen. The ovaries and testes, in addition to generating germ cells or gametes, are the source of hormones that promote the complete development of secondary sexual traits as well as the correct functioning of the reproductive tracts.
These tracts include the fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, and associated structures, and in men, the penis, sperm channels (epididymis, ductus deferens, and ejaculatory ducts), and other related structures and glands. The fallopian tube’s role is to transport an ovum that has been fertilized in the tube to the uterus, where gestation (development before delivery) occurs. The male ducts transport spermatozoa from the testis, store them and then expel them with secretions from the male glands through the penis when ejaculation occurs.
Copulation, or sexual intercourse, involves inserting the erect penis into the vagina and ejaculating spermatozoa from the seminal fluid (semen) into the female genital tract. Spermatozoa then go from the vagina to the uterus and then to the fallopian tube to fertilize the ovum in the tube’s outer wall. Females have a periodicity in their ovaries and uterine activity that begins at puberty and ends at menopause. Menstruation occurs at approximately 28-day intervals, indicating periodicity; significant changes occur in the ovaries and uterus throughout each reproductive, or menstrual, cycle. During pregnancy and nursing, periodicity and, as a result, menstruation is inhibited.
The development of reproductive organs
The sex of a kid is decided at the time the spermatozoon fertilizes the ovum. The genetic distinctions between a man and a female are determined by the chromosomes found in the nucleus of the cells. Once the genetic sex is confirmed, there is usually a series of alterations that culminate in the development of an adult male or female. During the first eight weeks of an embryo’s development within the uterus, however, there is no outward sign of its sex. This is a neutral or indifferent stage in which an embryo’s sex can only be determined through inspection.
The following stage, differentiation, starts first in the gonads that will become testes and then a week or two later in the gonads that will become ovaries. Embryos of both sexes have identical duct networks connecting the undifferentiated gonads to the outside and have similar external genitalia, represented by three simple protuberances.
Each embryo has four ducts, the fate of which is crucial in determining the ultimate morphological distinctions between men and women. The mesonephric, or Wolffian, ducts are two ducts that are intimately connected to the growing urinary system. In males, each mesonephric duct differentiates into four similar structures: an epididymis duct, a ductus deferens, and an ejaculatory duct. The mesonephric ducts are generally inhibited in females. The other two ducts, known as the paramesonephric or mullein ducts, continue to grow into the fallopian tubes, uterus, and a portion of the vagina in females but are mostly repressed in men.
The primordial external genitalia, which in males become the penis and scrotum and in females become the vulva, also differentiate (the clitoris, labia, and vestibule of the vagina).
The organs for each sex have grown and are in their adult locations at birth, but they are not functioning. During the development of sex organs in embryos, many anomalies can arise, resulting in hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, and other chromosomally caused disorders. Throughout childhood and until adolescence, the reproductive organs expand steadily with the progressive development of the activity. Puberty signifies the beginning of increasing activity in the sex glands as well as the gradual development of secondary sexual traits.
The testes grow and become active in males throughout puberty, as do the external genitalia and the ability to ejaculate. As hormone production from the testes rises, there are significant changes in height and weight. As a result, the larynx, or voice box, enlarges. Certain skeletal characteristics, such as the pelvic bones and cranium, become emphasized. The hair in the armpits and pubic area grows thicker and more plentiful. Hair grows on the face, as well as the chest, belly, and limbs. The hair at the temples is receding. Skin glands become more active, particularly apocrine glands (a kind of sweat gland located in the armpits, groin, and around the thigh).
Females’ external genitalia grow throughout adolescence, and the uterus begins its periodic activity with menstruation. The breasts grow, and body fat is deposited in line with the typical features of the adult female. Axillary (armpit) and pubic hair growth is increased, and the hair gets thicker.
The male reproductive system
The organs of the male reproductive system are responsible for the following functions:
- To create, retain, and transport sperm (male reproductive cells) and protective fluid (semen).
- During intercourse, sperm is discharged into the female reproductive canal.
- To generate and secrete male sex hormones, which are important for the male reproductive system’s maintenance.
In contrast to the female reproductive system, the majority of the male reproductive system is positioned outside the body. The penis, scrotum, and testicles are examples of external structures.
The male organ utilized in sexual intercourse is the penis. The glans, commonly known as the head of the penis, are covered by a loose covering of skin known as the foreskin. This skin is occasionally removed during a surgery known as circumcision. The urethra, the tube that carries sperm and urine, opens at the apex of the penis. A number of sensitive nerve endings can also be found in the glans of the penis.
The penis body is cylindrical in form and is made up of three circular chambers. These chambers are formed of a kind of sponge-like tissue. When a guy is sexually aroused, hundreds of huge spaces in this tissue fill with blood. The penis gets stiff and erect as it fills with blood, allowing for penetration during sexual intercourse. To allow variations in penile size during an erection, the skin of the penis is flexible and elastic.
When a man experiences sexual climax, sperm (reproductive cells) is ejected (ejaculated) through the end of the penis (orgasm).
The scrotum is a loose pouch-like sac of skin that hangs behind and beneath the penis. It houses the testicles (commonly known as testes), as well as many nerves and blood arteries. The testes must be somewhat colder than body temperature for optimal sperm development.
Testicles (testes): These are oval organs in the scrotum roughly the size of big olives, held together at each end by a mechanism called the spermatic cord. The majority of males have two testes. The testes are in charge of producing testosterone, the major male sex hormone, as well as sperm production. Seminiferous tubules are coiled masses of tubes found within the testes. These tubes are in charge of generating sperm cells.
The male reproductive system’s internal organs, often known as accessory organs, include the following:
The epididymis is a long, coiled tube located on the underside of each testicle. It transports and stores sperm cells generated by the testicles. Contraction forces the sperm into the vas deferens during sexual stimulation.
Vas deferens: In preparation for ejaculation, the vas deferens transfer mature sperm to the urethra, the tube that transports urine or sperm to the exterior of the body.
The vas deferens and the seminal vesicles fuse to produce the ejaculatory ducts.
The urethra: When the penis is erect during sex, the passage of urine from the urethra is stopped, enabling only sperm to be ejaculated during the climax.
Seminal vesicles The seminal vesicles generate a sugar-rich fluid (fructose) that provides energy to the sperm, allowing them to migrate. The seminal vesicle fluid accounts for the majority of the volume of a man’s ejaculatory fluid, or ejaculate.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ positioned underneath the urinary bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate gland provides more fluid to the ejaculate. Prostate fluids also aid in the nourishment of sperm. The urethra, which transports the ejaculate to be ejected after orgasm, passes through the prostate gland’s core.
Bulbourethral glands: These glands secrete a clear, slick fluid that drains into the urethra. This fluid lubricates the urethra and neutralizes any acidity that may be present as a result of leftover urine drops in the urethra.
What Is the Function of the Male Reproductive System?
Hormones, which are substances that govern the functioning of many different types of cells or organs, are essential to the male reproductive system as a whole. Follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and testosterone are the major hormones involved in the male reproductive system.
Follicle-stimulating hormone is required for spermatogenesis, while luteinizing hormone increases the synthesis of testosterone, which is also required for spermatogenesis. Testosterone is in charge of the development of masculine traits such as muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone mass, facial hair growth, voice alteration, and sexual drive.
The reproductive system of women
The vagina, womb (uterus), fallopian tubes, and ovaries are the female reproductive organs:
Vagina – a 7.5 cm long muscular tube that connects the womb’s neck to the genitals, or vulva.
The uterus (womb) is a muscular organ that resembles an upside-down pear.
The cervix is the neck or entrance to the womb, and it has a tiny hole in the center.
The fallopian (uterine) tubes stretch from the womb, one on each side. They both appear around the ovary. The egg (ovum) is transported from the ovary to the womb via these channels.
Ovaries are two tiny almond-shaped glands that carry the egg. The ovaries also produce sex hormones.
The menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is controlled by hormones released by the ovaries and a tiny gland in the brain called the pituitary gland. The usual menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days.
Following a period, increased levels of the hormone estrogen aid in the thickening of the uterine lining (the endometrium). At the midpoint of the cycle, an egg is discharged from one of the ovaries (ovulation).
If the egg is fertilized while traveling through the fallopian tube, it becomes lodged in the uterine lining.
If the egg is not fertilized, low levels of the hormone progesterone cause the uterine lining to shed. This is referred to as a period or menstruation. The cycle then begins again.
If you wish to have a baby, you can increase your chances of success by learning about ovulation and the “fertile window” in it.
The ovum (ovum)
The majority of a woman’s egg supply develops while she is still a fetus. The eggs mature inside the ovary during the onset of adolescence, and one is expelled every month.
Genetic material is present in each egg. The ovaries stop producing hormones at menopause, and eggs are no longer ripened or released.
Problems with the female reproductive system
Some of the reproductive health issues that women may face include:
- Endometriosis is the presence and growth of functional endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the presence and growth of functional endometrial tissue outside of the uterus (PCOS)
- Fibroids are non-cancerous uterine tumors.
- infertility – inability to conceive uncomfortable periods
- premenstrual syndrome
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are bacterial or viral diseases spread via sexual contact, some of which can result in malignancy or infertility.
Fertility Foods to Increase Your Chances of Conception
Fertility and nutrition are big subjects these days, and fertility-related foods are part of the frenzy. But, can specific meals actually help you conceive?
While no one food or fertility diet can suddenly increase your chances of conception, a healthy and well-balanced diet may undoubtedly assist promote general health, including reproductive health, in both men and women.
It is critical to remember that food does not have a part in certain severe diseases that cause infertility in both men and women. If the fallopian tubes are clogged, for example, preventing sperm from accessing an egg, dietary modifications will not alleviate the blockage and open the channels.
With that in mind, here are 15 nutritious whole foods that may be useful to individuals looking to improve their diet.
The sunflower seed
Roasted, unsalted sunflower seed kernels are high in vitamin E, an important component that has been found in certain studies to increase sperm count and motility. Furthermore, sunflower seeds are high in folate and selenium, both of which are essential for male and female fertility. 1 Sunflower seeds are likewise high in omega-6 fatty acids and include trace levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are excellent providers of vitamin C. Grapefruit and oranges contain polyamine putrescine, which has been associated in animal studies to enhanced egg and sperm health.
Mature cheeses, such as aged cheddar, parmesan, and manchego, may be beneficial to sperm health. Polyamines are abundant in mature cheeses. Polyamines are proteins that may be found in both plant and animal sources. They are also found naturally in humans.
Polyamines may have a crucial function in the reproductive system, according to research. Mature cheese is particularly high in polyamine putrescine, which may be beneficial to sperm health. Putrescine is also thought to improve egg health, particularly in women over the age of 35. 5 (Yes, the putrescine found in grapefruit is the same putrescine found in grapefruit.)
Full fat dairy
For those who can handle it, pastured dairy is an excellent choice for fertility and pregnancy. Dairy products are high in saturated fat, which is particularly good for fertility. It’s also high in fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, E, D, K, and K2.
According to Harvard research, women who ate full-fat dairy products were less likely to have ovulation issues than those who ate mostly low-fat dairy products. Skim or low-fat milk, sherbet, yogurt, and cottage cheese were all considered low-fat dairy products in this study. Whole milk, ice cream, cream cheese, and other cheeses were examples of full-fat goods.
One of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world is the liver, particularly the cow’s liver. It’s high in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, which is difficult to get elsewhere in the diet.
Aside from being the best natural source of vitamin A, the liver is also high in highly absorbable iron, which aids in the prevention of miscarriage and maternal anemia, and vitamin B12, which is necessary for the correct production of red blood cells and DNA. Choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and folate are also abundant in the liver.
Tomatoes are abundant in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that can help boost your fertility. Lycopene has been widely researched for its possible function in male fertility enhancement.
Lycopene supplementation is also being studied as a potential therapy for male infertility. One study discovered that taking 4mg to 8mg of lycopene per day for 8 to 12 months enhanced sperm health and boosted conception rates. One study discovered that taking 4mg to 8mg of lycopene per day for 8 to 12 months enhanced sperm health and boosted conception rates.
Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are high in fiber and folate, both of which are essential for maintaining a healthy hormonal balance. Lentils also have a high concentration of polyamine spermidine, which may aid sperm fertilization.
Lentils and beans are also high in protein, which can aid in the promotion of healthy ovulation. According to studies, consuming 5% of calories from vegetable protein rather than animal protein—particularly chicken and red meats—reduces the risk of infertility owing to anovulation by more than 50%.
Asparagus is a high-nutrient superfood. It’s low in calories, filling, and provides a boost of fertility-boosting nutrients. You’ll receive your entire daily dose of vitamin K, 60% of your daily value of folate, and more than 20% of other key nutrients including vitamin A, C, and the B vitamin thiamin in 1 cup serving.
Oysters are on almost every fertility food list. They are high in nutrients that promote fertility. A meal of six raw oysters has just 139 calories but includes all of the following essential reproductive vitamins and minerals:
- 408 percent of your daily vitamin B12 need
- 188 percent of your daily zinc requirement
- 187 percent of your daily selenium requirement
- 43 percent of your daily iron requirement
Because of their many seeds, pomegranates have traditionally been connected with fertility and birth. While this is not a scientific reason to eat pomegranates, it is certainly an intriguing one.
According to research, pomegranates are high in antioxidants, which may increase sperm quality. In a 2014 research, 70 adult males who did not have enough quality sperm to contribute to a sperm bank were given tablets containing pomegranate fruit extract and galanga root powder.
Sperm motility rose by 62% after three months of therapy.
Walnuts have a high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This is one of the factors that prompted researchers to explore if they may help with fertility.
In short research, 117 men were divided into two groups: one that avoided consuming tree nuts and another that ate 75 grams of walnuts daily.
The males supplied a sperm sample before the experiment began and again 12 weeks afterward.
After 12 weeks, the walnut-eating group observed an increase in sperm vitality, motility, and shape. After consuming the walnuts, they saw fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm samples.
Egg yolks provide nearly all of the iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin B12 found in eggs. They also contain 100 percent of the vitamin A found in eggs. Egg yolks from pasture-raised hens are also high in the fertility-boosting omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2.
Another incentive to consume eggs is that they are a cheap source of lean protein, which has been shown to improve fertility in both men and women. Choline, which is found in eggs, may help to lower the incidence of some birth abnormalities. However, this advantage has not been seen in all investigations.
It’s a widely held idea that eating pineapple core for five days after ovulation or embryo transfer (during IVF) would aid in implantation. There isn’t enough science to support up this practice.
Having said that, there are additional reasons to eat pineapple when trying to conceive. For starters, pineapple is high in vitamin C. A 1-cup serving has 46% of your daily recommended amount. The polycystic ovarian syndrome has been linked to low vitamin C levels (PCOS).
Pineapples also include bromelain, a natural enzyme with anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant (blood-thinning) properties. Bromelain stimulates your immune system to shift away from a condition of inflammation. Inflammatory foods can make it difficult to conceive, and chronic inflammation may actually urge the body to inhibit ovulation.
Salmon is on almost every superfood list, fertility or not. With good cause. Salmon is high in essential fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to improve fertility in both men and women.
It is also high in selenium and vitamin D. Selenium is a nutrient that is required for healthy sperm, and low vitamin D levels tend to be related to male infertility. In fact, salmon is one of the finest sources of your daily vitamin D need. 14 Just 3 ounces of smoked salmon has 97 percent of your daily vitamin D requirement.
Cinnamon pills can assist women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a frequent cause of female infertility, get their monthly cycles back on track.
In tiny but intriguing research, women with PCOS who took a daily cinnamon supplement reported nearly double the number of menstrual cycles as those who received a placebo. And, as you may be aware, more ovulatory regular cycles imply greater opportunities.
Foods to avoid
Eating healthy isn’t always simple, especially when you’re pregnant and have to follow a whole new set of nutrition guidelines. Even if you’re only thinking about getting pregnant, certain dietary modifications are in order.
Part of it is eating enough fruits, veggies, and whole grains—things that are always beneficial for you—but perhaps more important are the items you should avoid when trying to conceive. Artificial chemicals, synthetic hormones, and possible pollutants may reduce the likelihood of conception and may even be hazardous to a developing fetus.
We should say: Don’t stress out if you’ve recently eaten any of these things—they’re unlikely to cause any harm in moderation. However, if you want to be cautious, limit your intake of these items while attempting to conceive and eliminate them entirely after you get a positive pregnancy test.
Fish with a high mercury content
Mercury may affect the neurological system, therefore eating mercury-rich seafood like swordfish and tuna while pregnant could harm the fetus, according to Kendra Tolbert, R.D. Eating high-mercury fish before becoming pregnant may result in mercury buildup in your body, which may impair the development of the baby’s neurological system. “The fetal nervous system is developed before most women are even aware they are pregnant,” says registered dietician Suzanne Fisher. Mercury may potentially have an effect on fertility.
A few studies have also connected diet and regular soda to decreased fertility. “We believe it’s a mix of inflammation and metabolic abnormalities induced by too many blood-sugar-spiking sweets and gut-bacteria-changing artificial sweeteners,” Tolbert adds. Furthermore, many soft drinks come in containers that contain BPA and other chemicals that you should avoid.
According to Tolbert, trans fats, which are present in meals such as certain chips or microwave popcorn, baked products prepared with shortening, and fried foods, can induce inflammation and insulin resistance, lowering fertility. In excess, they can damage your blood vessels, causing the supply of nutrients to your reproductive system to be disrupted. Trans fats, which reduce sperm count and quality, should also be avoided by men when the couple is attempting to conceive.
Foods with a high glycemic index
Avoid meals that cause your blood sugar to surge if you want to boost your fertility, especially if you don’t match them with foods that decrease that rise. When feasible, pick slow-burning carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread and pasta or brown rice over refined carbs, and pair them with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Dairy that is low in fat
Low-fat milk, yogurt, and other dairy products may contain androgens, male hormones that are left in when fat is removed. These meals and beverages may stimulate your body’s production of androgens, which can disrupt your menstrual cycle.
Excessive alcohol consumption
The CDC recommends that women who may become pregnant avoid alcohol totally (which is unrealistic), but Tolbert recommends limiting your alcohol consumption to seven drinks per week. Like mercury, alcohol may cause infertility and depletes your body with vitamin B, which enhances your chances of pregnancy and supports fetal growth.
Soft unpasteurized cheeses
Cheeses like Brie, Roquefort, Camembert, and Gorgonzola have a higher risk of having listeria, which might raise your risk of miscarriage.
Meat from the deli
Listeria may be found in processed meats such as lunch meat and hot dogs, as well as smoked salmon. If you want to consume deli meat, Fisher suggests cooking it until it’s boiling hot to eliminate microorganisms.
Animal products in their natural state
According to Fisher, raw meat, shellfish, and eggs may carry salmonella, coliform bacteria, or toxoplasmosis, which can harm a fetus if it crosses through the placenta. Make careful to properly prepare any animal products, and avoid sushi, carpaccios, and other similar foods.