Stories from the Female Reproductive Tract

6 Nov

Heard in class:

“Last week I realized how little I know about the female vagina.”

“You really had to specify that it was female, huh.”

We just finished the female reproductive system in Pathology and I have to say it has got some freaky stuff going on.  It’s hard to conceptualize for many (I’ve heard a lot of guys complain that they just don’t get it because they don’t have ovaries, tubes, uterus, etc.. but it’s not like it’s something women can just open up and look at on themselves), but it’s really cool when you step back from it.  The whole process of ovulation and menstruation is so messy (Eggs rupturing out of the ovary!  Layers of the placenta breaking down and falling out!) and the pathologies you see in the female tract are so different from anywhere else because of the cells that are there ready to develop into a new person.

Mature teratomas

A cancer of the (unfertilized) egg where it starts to grow random bits of body like hair, skin, teeth, even brain.  Although it’s a cancer it’s totally benign and won’t spread or cause any trouble.  What might though is the skin that develops from it, which can sometimes turn into a skin cancer inside your ovary.

Endometriosis

The endometrium, the part of the uterus that is sloughed off every month in your period, is a sneaky bugger.  Sometimes it can start to develop outside the uterus, in places like the ovary, the fallopian tubes, even the lungs and in bone or in scars of previous surgeries (laprotomies and C-sections).  Even though it’s in an unusual place, it keeps functioning like normal every month i.e. bleeding in time with your period.

Partial Hydatidiform Mole

This is a kind of abnormal placental growth that’s caused by abnormal fertilization where a normal egg is fertilized by two sperm at the same time.  The embryo ends up with one and a half times the normal number of genes, which doesn’t stop it from developing at least a little bit, but then dies.  The woman will think she’s pregnant but after 3 or 4 months, she might be wondering why her tummy isn’t getting bigger anymore, and may go to a clinic when she notices she’s passing out tiny grape-like structures.  Instead of a developing baby, she has some normal placental parts, plus some abnormal grapey placental parts, and some embryo parts as well.

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Whutchu sayin'

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