Checking a hormone pro?le in the woman’s blood will help in the diagnosis of ovulatory disorders like polycystic ovaries, an early menopause, anorexia or other endocrine illnesses. Ovulation itself is best assessed by ultrasound scan at mid-cycle or by a blood hormone progesterone level in the second half of the cycle.
The FALLOPIAN TUBES may be damaged or blocked in 20–30 per cent of infertile women. This is usually caused by previous pelvic infection or ENDOMETRIOSIS, where menstrual blood is thought to ?ow backwards through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis and seed with cells from the lining of the uterus in the pelvis. This process often leads to scarring of the pelvic tissues; 5–10 per cent of infertility is associated with endometriosis.
To assess the Fallopian tubes adequately a procedure called LAPAROSCOPY is performed. An ENDOSCOPE is inserted through the umbilicus and at the same time a dye is pushed through the tubes to assess their patency. The procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic.
In a few cases the mucus around the cervix may be hostile to the partner’s sperm and therefore prevent fertilisation.
Defective production is responsible for up to a quarter of infertility. It may result from the failure of the testes (see TESTICLE) to descend in early life, from infections of the testes or previous surgery for testicular torsion. The semen is analysed to assess the numbers of sperm and their motility and to check for abnormal forms.
In a few cases the genetic make-up of one partner does not allow the couple ever to achieve a pregnancy naturally.
In about 25 per cent of couples no obvious cause can be found for their infertility.
Treatment Ovulation may be induced with drugs.
In some cases damaged Fallopian tubes may be repaired by tubal surgery. If the tubes are destroyed beyond repair a pregnancy may be achieved with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) – see under ASSISTED CONCEPTION.
Endometriosis may be treated either with drugs or laser therapy, and pregnancy rates after both forms of treatment are between 40–50 per cent, depending on the severity of the disease.
Few options exist for treating male-factor infertility. These are arti?cial insemination by husband or donor and more recently in vitro fertilisation. Drug treatment and surgical repair of VARICOCELE have disappointing results.
Following investigations, between 30 and 40 per cent of infertile couples will achieve a pregnancy usually within two years.
Some infertile men cannot repair any errors in the DNA in their sperm, and it has been found that the same DNA repair problem occurs in malignant cells of some patients with cancer. It is possible that these men’s infertility might be nature’s way of stopping the propagation of genetic defects. With the assisted reproduction technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, some men with defective sperm can fertilise an ovum. If a man with such DNA defects fathers a child via this technique, that child could be sterile and might be at increased risk of developing cancer. (See ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION; ASSISTED CONCEPTION.)
This technique is used when normal methods of attempted CONCEPTION or ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION with healthy SEMEN have failed. In the UK, assisted-conception procedures are governed by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990, which set up the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990 UK legislation was prompted by the report on in vitro fertilisation produced by a government-appointed committee chaired by Baroness Warnock. This followed the birth, in 1978, of the ?rst ‘test-tube’ baby.
This Act allows regulation monitoring of all treatment centres to ensure that they carry out treatment and research responsibly. It covers any fertilisation that uses donated eggs or sperm (called gametes) – for example, donor insemination or embryos (see EMBRYO) grown outside the human body (known as licensed treatment). The Act also covers research on human embryos with especial emphasis on foolproof labelling and immaculate data collection.
Human Fertilisation & EmbryologyAuthority (HFEA) Set up by the UK government following the Warnock report, the Authority’s 221 members inspect and license centres carrying out fertilisation treatments using donated eggs and sperm. It publishes a code of practice advising centres on how to conduct their activities and maintains a register of information on donors, patients and all treatments. It also reviews routinely progress and research in fertility treatment and the attempted development of human CLONING. Cloning to produce viable embryos (reproductive cloning) is forbidden, but limited licensing of the technique is allowed in specialist centres to enable them to produce cells for medical treatment (therapeutic cloning).
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) In this technique, the female partner receives drugs to enhance OVULATION. Just before the eggs are released from the ovary (see OVARIES), several ripe eggs are collected under ULTRASOUND guidance or through a LAPAROSCOPE. The eggs are incubated with the prepared sperm. About 40 hours later, once the eggs are fertilised, two eggs (three in special circumstances) are transferred into the mother’s UTERUS via the cervix (neck of the womb). Pregnancy should then proceed normally. About one in ?ve IVF pregnancies results in the birth of a child. The success rate is lower in women over 40.
Indications In women with severely damaged FALLOPIAN TUBES, IVF o?ers the only chance of pregnancy. The method is also used in couples with unexplained infertility or with male-factor infertility (where sperms are abnormal or their count low). Women who have had an early or surgically induced MENOPAUSE can become pregnant using donor eggs. A quarter of these pregnancies are multiple – that is, produce twins or more. Twins and triplets are more likely to be premature. The main danger of ovarian stimulation for IVF is hyperstimulation which can cause ovarian cysts. (See OVARIES, DISEASES OF.)... Medical Dictionary
Adoption declined as the availability of babies fell with the introduction of the Abortion Act 1968, improving contraceptive services and increasing acceptability of single parenthood.
However, with 10 per cent of couples su?ering infertility, the demand continued, leading to the adoption of those previously perceived as di?cult to place – i.e. physically, intellectually and/or emotionally disabled children and adolescents, those with terminal illness, and children of ethnic-minority groups.
Recent controversies regarding homosexual couples as adoptive parents, adoption of children with or at high risk of HIV/AIDS, transcultural adoption, and the increasing use of intercountry adoption to ful?l the needs of childless couples have provoked urgent consideration of the ethical dilemmas of adoption and its consequences for the children, their adoptive and birth families and society generally.
Detailed statistics have been unavailable since 1984 but in general there has been a downward trend with relatively more older children being placed. Detailed reasons for adoption (i.e. interfamily, step-parent, intercountry, etc.) are not available but approximately one-third are adopted from local-authority care.
In the UK all adoptions (including interfamily and step-parent adoption) must take place through a registered adoption agency which may be local-authority-based or provided by a registered voluntary agency. All local authorities must act as agencies, the voluntary agencies often providing specialist services to promote and support the adoption of more di?cult-to-place children. Occasionally an adoption allowance will be awarded.
Adoption orders cannot be granted until a child has resided with its proposed adopters for 13 weeks. In the case of newborn infants the mother cannot give formal consent to placement until the baby is six weeks old, although informal arrangements can be made before this time.
In the UK the concept of responsibility of birth parents to their children and their rights to continued involvement after adoption are acknowledged by the Children Act 1989. However, in all discussions the child’s interests remain paramount. The Act also recognises adopted children’s need to have information regarding their origins.
BAAF – British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering – is the national organisation of adoptive agencies, both local authority and voluntary sector. The organisation promotes and provides training service, development and research; has several specialist professional subgroups (i.e. medical, legal, etc.); and produces a quarterly journal.
Adoption UK is an e?ective national support network of adoptive parents who o?er free information, a ‘listening ear’ and, to members, a quarterly newsletter.
National Organisation for Counselling Adoptees and their Parents (NORCAP) is concerned with adopted children and birth parents who wish to make contact.
The Registrar General operates an Adoption Contact Register for adopted persons and anyone related to that person by blood, half-blood or marriage. Information can be obtained from the O?ce of Population Censuses and Surveys. For the addresses of these organisations, see Appendix 2.... Medical Dictionary
Barrier methods These involve a physical barrier which prevents sperm (see SPERMATOZOON) from reaching the cervix (see CERVIX UTERI). Barrier methods reduce the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases, and the sheath is the best protection against HIV infection (see AIDS/HIV) for sexually active people. The e?ciency of barrier methods is improved if they are used in conjunction with a spermicidal foam or jelly, but care is needed to ensure that the preparation chosen does not damage the rubber barrier or cause an allergic reaction in the users. CONDOM OR SHEATH This is the most commonly used barrier contraceptive. It consists of a rubber sheath which is placed over the erect penis before intromission and removed after ejaculation. The failure rate, if properly used, is about 4 per cent. DIAPHRAGM OR CAP A rubber dome that is inserted into the vagina before intercourse and ?ts snugly over the cervix. It should be used with an appropriate spermicide and is removed six hours after intercourse. A woman must be measured to ensure that she is supplied with the correct size of diaphragm, and the ?t should be checked annually or after more than about 7 lbs. change in weight. The failure rate, if properly used, is about 2 per cent.
Non-barrier methods These do not provide a physical barrier between sperm and cervix and so do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. COITUS INTERRUPTUS This involves the man’s withdrawing his penis from the vagina before ejaculation. Because some sperm may leak before full ejaculation, the method is not very reliable. SAFE PERIOD This involves avoiding intercourse around the time when the woman ovulates and is at risk of pregnancy. The safe times can be predicted using temperature charts to identify the rise in temperature before ovulation, or by careful assessment of the quality of the cervical mucus. This method works best if the woman has regular menstrual cycles. If used carefully it can be very e?ective but requires a highly disciplined couple to succeed. It is approved by the Catholic church.
SPERMICIDAL GELS, CREAMS, PESSARIES, ETC.
These are supposed to prevent pregnancy by killing sperm before they reach the cervix, but they are unreliable and should be used only in conjunction with a barrier method.
INTRAUTERINE CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICE (COIL) This is a small metal or plastic shape, placed inside the uterus, which prevents pregnancy by disrupting implantation. Some people regard it as a form of abortion, so it is not acceptable to all religious groups. There is a risk of pelvic infection and eventual infertility in women who have used coils, and in many countries their use has declined substantially. Coils must be inserted by a specially trained health worker, but once in place they permit intercourse at any time with no prior planning. Increased pain and bleeding may be caused during menstruation. If severe, such symptoms may indicate that the coil is incorrectly sited, and that its position should be checked. HORMONAL METHODS Steroid hormones have dominated contraceptive developments during the past 40 years, with more than 200 million women worldwide taking or having taken ‘the pill’. In the past 20 years, new developments have included modifying existing methods and devising more e?ective ways of delivering the drugs, such as implants and hormone-releasing devices in the uterus. Established hormonal contraception includes the combined oestrogen and progesterone and progesterone-only contraceptive pills, as well as longer-acting depot preparations. They modify the woman’s hormonal environment and prevent pregnancy by disrupting various stages of the menstrual cycle, especially ovulation. The combined oestrogen and progesterone pills are very e?ective and are the most popular form of contraception. Biphasic and triphasic pills contain di?erent quantities of oestrogen and progesterone taken in two or three phases of the menstrual cycle. A wide range of preparations is available and the British National Formulary contains details of the commonly used varieties.
The main side-e?ect is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The lowest possible dose of oestrogen should be used, and many preparations are phasic, with the dose of oestrogen varying with the time of the cycle. The progesterone-only, or ‘mini’, pill does not contain any oestrogen and must be taken at the same time every day. It is not as e?ective as the combined pill, but failure rates of less than 1-per-100 woman years can be achieved. It has few serious side-e?ects, but may cause menstrual irregularities. It is suitable for use by mothers who are breast feeding.
Depot preparations include intramuscular injections, subcutaneous implants, and intravaginal rings. They are useful in cases where the woman cannot be relied on to take a pill regularly but needs e?ective contraception. Their main side-e?ect is their prolonged action, which means that users cannot suddenly decide that they would like to become pregnant. Skin patches containing a contraceptive that is absorbed through the skin have recently been launched.
HORMONAL CONTRACEPTION FOR MEN There is a growing demand by men worldwide for hormonal contraception. Development of a ‘male pill’, however, has been slow because of the potentially dangerous side-e?ects of using high doses of TESTOSTERONE (the male hormone) to suppress spermatogenesis. Progress in research to develop a suitable ANDROGEN-based combination product is promising, including the possibility of long-term STEROID implants. STERILISATION See also STERILISATION – Reproductive sterilisation. The operation is easier and safer to perform on men than on women. Although sterilisation can sometimes be reversed, this cannot be guaranteed and couples should be counselled in advance that the method is irreversible. There is a small but definite failure rate with sterilisation, and this should also be made clear before the operation is performed. POSTCOITAL CONTRACEPTION Also known as emergency contraception or the ‘morning after pill’, postcoital contraception can be e?ected by two di?erent hormonal methods. Levonorgesterol (a synthetic hormone similar to the natural female sex hormone PROGESTERONE) can be used alone, with one pill being taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, but preferably as soon as possible, and a second one 12 hours after the ?rst. Alternatively, a combined preparation comprising ETHINYLESTRADIOL and levonorgesterol can be taken, also within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. The single constituent pill has fewer side-e?ects than the combined version. Neither version should be taken by women with severe liver disease or acute PORPHYRIAS, but the ethinylestradiol/levonorgesterol combination is unsuitable for women with a history of THROMBOSIS.
In the UK the law allows women over the age of 16 to buy the morning-after pill ‘over the counter’ from a registered pharmacist.... Medical Dictionary
(e.g. HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, gonorrhoea, and genetic disorders). Insemination is performed at the time of ovulation by introducing the semen into the upper vagina. Semen may be fresh or have been stored frozen in liquid nitrogen. (See ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION.)... Medical Dictionary
Adrenal glands These two glands, also known as suprarenal glands, lie immediately above the kidneys. The central or medullary portion of the glands forms the secretions known as ADRENALINE (or epinephrine) and NORADRENALINE. Adrenaline acts upon structures innervated by sympathetic nerves. Brie?y, the blood vessels of the skin and of the abdominal viscera (except the intestines) are constricted, and at the same time the arteries of the muscles and the coronary arteries are dilated; systolic blood pressure rises; blood sugar increases; the metabolic rate rises; muscle fatigue is diminished. The super?cial or cortical part of the glands produces steroid-based substances such as aldosterone, cortisone, hydrocortisone, and deoxycortone acetate, for the maintenance of life. It is the absence of these substances, due to atrophy or destruction of the suprarenal cortex, that is responsible for the condition known as ADDISON’S DISEASE. (See CORTICOSTEROIDS.)
Ovaries and testicles The ovary (see OVARIES) secretes at least two hormones – known, respectively, as oestradiol (follicular hormone) and progesterone (corpus luteum hormone). Oestradiol develops (under the stimulus of the anterior pituitary lobe – see PITUITARY GLAND below, and under separate entry) each time an ovum in the ovary becomes mature, and causes extensive proliferation of the ENDOMETRIUM lining the UTERUS, a stage ending with shedding of the ovum about 14 days before the onset of MENSTRUATION. The corpus luteum, which then forms, secretes both progesterone and oestradiol. Progesterone brings about great activity of the glands in the endometrium. The uterus is now ready to receive the ovum if it is fertilised. If fertilisation does not occur, the corpus luteum degenerates, the hormones cease acting, and menstruation takes place.
The hormone secreted by the testicles (see TESTICLE) is known as TESTOSTERONE. It is responsible for the growth of the male secondary sex characteristics.
Pancreas This gland is situated in the upper part of the abdomen and, in addition to the digestive enzymes, it produces INSULIN within specialised cells (islets of Langerhans). This controls carbohydrate metabolism; faulty or absent insulin production causes DIABETES MELLITUS.
Parathyroid glands These are four minute glands lying at the side of, or behind, the thyroid (see below). They have a certain e?ect in controlling the absorption of calcium salts by the bones and other tissues. When their secretion is defective, TETANY occurs.
Pituitary gland This gland is attached to the base of the brain and rests in a hollow on the base of the skull. It is the most important of all endocrine glands and consists of two embryologically and functionally distinct lobes.
The function of the anterior lobe depends on the secretion by the HYPOTHALAMUS of certain ‘neuro-hormones’ which control the secretion of the pituitary trophic hormones. The hypothalamic centres involved in the control of speci?c pituitary hormones appear to be anatomically separate. Through the pituitary trophic hormones the activity of the thyroid, adrenal cortex and the sex glands is controlled. The anterior pituitary and the target glands are linked through a feedback control cycle. The liberation of trophic hormones is inhibited by a rising concentration of the circulating hormone of the target gland, and stimulated by a fall in its concentration. Six trophic (polypeptide) hormones are formed by the anterior pituitary. Growth hormone (GH) and prolactin are simple proteins formed in the acidophil cells. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are glycoproteins formed in the basophil cells. Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), although a polypeptide, is derived from basophil cells.
The posterior pituitary lobe, or neurohypophysis, is closely connected with the hypothalamus by the hypothalamic-hypophyseal tracts. It is concerned with the production or storage of OXYTOCIN and vasopressin (the antidiuretic hormone).
PITUITARY HORMONES Growth hormone, gonadotrophic hormone, adrenocorticotrophic hormone and thyrotrophic hormones can be assayed in blood or urine by radio-immunoassay techniques. Growth hormone extracted from human pituitary glands obtained at autopsy was available for clinical use until 1985, when it was withdrawn as it is believed to carry the virus responsible for CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB DISEASE (COD). However, growth hormone produced by DNA recombinant techniques is now available as somatropin. Synthetic growth hormone is used to treat de?ciency of the natural hormone in children and adults, TURNER’S SYNDROME and chronic renal insu?ciency in children.
Human pituitary gonadotrophins are readily obtained from post-menopausal urine. Commercial extracts from this source are available and are e?ective for treatment of infertility due to gonadotrophin insu?ciency.
The adrenocorticotrophic hormone is extracted from animal pituitary glands and has been available therapeutically for many years. It is used as a test of adrenal function, and, under certain circumstances, in conditions for which corticosteroid therapy is indicated (see CORTICOSTEROIDS). The pharmacologically active polypeptide of ACTH has been synthesised and is called tetracosactrin. Thyrotrophic hormone is also available but it has no therapeutic application.
HYPOTHALAMIC RELEASING HORMONES which a?ect the release of each of the six anterior pituitary hormones have been identi?ed. Their blood levels are only one-thousandth of those of the pituitary trophic hormones. The release of thyrotrophin, adrenocorticotrophin, growth hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone is stimulated, while release of prolactin is inhibited. The structure of the releasing hormones for TSH, FSH-LH, GH and, most recently, ACTH is known and they have all been synthesised. Thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH) is used as a diagnostic test of thyroid function but it has no therapeutic application. FSH-LH-releasing hormone provides a useful diagnostic test of gonadotrophin reserve in patients with pituitary disease, and is now used in the treatment of infertility and AMENORRHOEA in patients with functional hypothalamic disturbance. As this is the most common variety of secondary amenorrhoea, the potential use is great. Most cases of congenital de?ciency of GH, FSH, LH and ACTH are due to defects in the hypothalamic production of releasing hormone and are not a primary pituitary defect, so that the therapeutic implication of this synthesised group of releasing hormones is considerable.
GALACTORRHOEA is frequently due to a microadenoma (see ADENOMA) of the pituitary. DOPAMINE is the prolactin-release inhibiting hormone. Its duration of action is short so its therapeutic value is limited. However, BROMOCRIPTINE is a dopamine agonist with a more prolonged action and is e?ective treatment for galactorrhoea.
Thyroid gland The functions of the thyroid gland are controlled by the pituitary gland (see above) and the hypothalamus, situated in the brain. The thyroid, situated in the front of the neck below the LARYNX, helps to regulate the body’s METABOLISM. It comprises two lobes each side of the TRACHEA joined by an isthmus. Two types of secretory cells in the gland – follicular cells (the majority) and parafollicular cells – secrete, respectively, the iodine-containing hormones THYROXINE (T4) and TRI-IODOTHYRONINE (T3), and the hormone CALCITONIN. T3 and T4 help control metabolism and calcitonin, in conjunction with parathyroid hormone (see above), regulates the body’s calcium balance. De?ciencies in thyroid function produce HYPOTHYROIDISM and, in children, retarded development. Excess thyroid activity causes thyrotoxicosis. (See THYROID GLAND, DISEASES OF.)... Medical Dictionary
Eggs are obtained and mixed with the partner’s semen, then introduced into the woman’s Fallopian tubes for fertilisation to take place. The fertilised egg travels to the uterus where IMPLANTATION occurs and pregnancy proceeds. A variation of GIFT is zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) in which early development of the fertilised eggs happens in the laboratory before the young embryo is transferred to the Fallopian tubes. GIFT is best used in couples with unexplained infertility or with minor degrees of male or female cervical factor infertility. The success rate is about 17 per cent. (See also ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION.)... Medical Dictionary
infertility units. Safety concerns relate to a higher-than-expected rate of abnormalities in the SEX CHROMOSOMES after ICSI, and also the potential risk of transmitting paternal genetic defects in the Y chromosome to sons born after ICSI.... Medical Dictionary
The atrophy of the testis is the result of ?brosis, which begins to appear in childhood and progresses until all the seminiferous tubules are replaced by ?brous tissue. Gynaecomastia, mental retardation and eunuchoidism (see EUNUCH; loss of male secondary sexual characteristics – small penis, loss of body hair and a high-pitched voice) may be present. Most patients with Klinefelter’s syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. The extra chromosome is an X chromosome, so that the sex chromosome constitution is XXY instead of XY. Klinefelter’s syndrome is one of the most common chromosome abnormalities and occurs in 1 in 300 of the male population. Patients with this syndrome show that the Y chromosome is strongly sex-determining: thus, a patient who has an XXY chromosome constitution may have the appearance of a normal male, with infertility the only incapacity, while the loss of a Y chromosome leads to the development of a bodily form which is essentially feminine (see TURNER’S SYNDROME).... Medical Dictionary
In recent years, however, the position has been altered by the introduction of the so-called fertility drugs, such as CLOMIPHENE, and human menopausal gonadotrophin which, through the medium of the PITUITARY GLAND, stimulate the production of ova (see OVUM). Their wide use in the treatment of INFERTILITY has resulted in an increase in the number of multiple births, a recognised hazard of giving too large a dose.
Twins may be binovular or uniovular. Binovular, or fraternal, twins are the result of the mother’s releasing two ova within a few days of each other and both being fertilised by separate spermatozoa (see SPERMATOZOON). They both develop separately in the mother’s womb and are no more alike than is usual with members of the same family. They are three times as common as uniovular, or identical, twins, who are developed from a single ovum fertilised by a single spermatozoon, but which has split early in development. This is why they are usually so remarkably alike in looks and mental characteristics. Unlike binovular twins, who may be of the same or di?erent sex, they are always of the same sex.
So far as fraternal, or binovular, twins are concerned, multiple pregnancy may be an inherited tendency; it certainly occurs more often in certain families, but this may be partly due to chance. A woman who has already given birth to twins is ten times more likely to have another multiple pregnancy than one who has not previously had twins. The statistical chance of a third pair of twins is 1:512,000. Identical twins do not run in families.
The relative proportion of twins of each type varies in di?erent races. Identical twins have much the same frequency all over the world: around 3 per 1,000 maternities. Fraternal twins are rare in Mongolian races: less than 3 per 1,000 maternities. In Caucasians they occur two or three times as often as identical twins: between 7 (Spain and Portugal) and 10 (Czech and Slovak Republics and Greece) per 1,000 maternities. They are more common in Afro-Caribbeans, reaching 30 per 1,000 maternities in certain West African populations.
Rarely, uniovular twins may not develop as separate individuals, being physically joined in some way. They are called conjoined or (traditionally) Siamese twins. Depending on the extent of common structures shared by the infants – this ranges from a common umbilical cord to twins with conjoined heads or a common liver – the infants may be successfully separated by surgery. (See CONJOINED TWINS.)
Parents of twins, triplets, etc. can obtain advice and help from the Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA).... Medical Dictionary
Causes Mumps is due to infection with a virus and is highly infectious from person to person. It is predominantly a disease of childhood and early adult life, but it can occur at any age. Epidemics usually occur in the winter and spring. It is infectious for two or three days before the swelling of the glands appears. A vaccine is now available that gives a high degree of protection against the disease, the incidence of which is falling sharply. The vaccine is combined with those for MEASLES and RUBELLA – see MMR VACCINE; IMMUNISATION.
Symptoms There is an incubation period of 2–3 weeks after infection before the glands begin to swell. The gland ?rst a?ected is generally the parotid, situated in front of and below the ear. The swelling usually spreads to the submaxillary and sublingual glands lying beneath the jaw. The patient is feverish and the gland is tender. The swelling disappears after about ?ve days. In 15–30 per cent of males, in?ammation of the testicles (orchitis) develops. This usually occurs during the second week of the illness, but may not occur until 2–3 weeks later; it may result in partial ATROPHY of the testicles, but practically never in INFERTILITY. In a much smaller proportion of females with mumps, in?ammation of the OVARIES or BREASTS may occur. In?ammation of the PANCREAS, accompanied by tenderness in the upper part of the abdomen and digestive disturbances, sometimes results, and MENINGITIS is also an occasional complication. The various complications are found much more often when the disease a?ects adults than when it occurs in childhood.
Treatment There is no speci?c treatment but ANALGESICS and plenty of ?uid should be available. The child may need to be in bed for a few days and should not return to school until the symptoms have settled. Adults with orchitis may need strong painkillers, and CORTICOSTEROIDS may be required to reduce the painful swelling.... Herbal Medical
Failure of OVULATION is the cause of INFERTILITY in around a third of couples seeking help with conception. It may also lead to menstrual problems (see MENSTRUATION), such as an irregular menstrual cycle or MENORRHAGIA. An uncommon cause of failure of ovulation is POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME, often associated with acne, hirsutism, and obesity. Treatment depends on the symptoms. Early ovarian failure is the cause of premature MENOPAUSE. Treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy using a combination of oestrogen and progestogen.
Ovarian cysts (for example, follicular cysts) result from ovulation. They may be symptomless but sometimes cause abdominal pain, pain during intercourse or disturbances in menstruation. Twisting or rupture can cause severe pain, pyrexia (fever) and nausea, and explorative surgery – endoscopic laparotomy – may be needed to establish a diagnosis (symptoms of ECTOPIC PREGNANCY are similar). The ovary may have to be removed. Simple cysts often disappear of their own accord but a large cyst can cause pressure on surrounding structures and therefore should be surgically removed.
In young women the most common benign tumour is a dermoid cyst, while in older women, ?broma (see under UTERUS, DISEASES OF) is more common. All benign tumours should be removed surgically in order to be sure they are not malignant.
Malignant tumours may be primary (arising in the ovary) or secondary (metastases from a cancer developing in another organ). Treatment depends upon the site and type of the primary tumour.
Around 5,000 women a year are diagnosed as having ovarian cancer in England and Wales. Unfortunately it is not readily detected in its early stages; around 85 per cent of women do not see a doctor until after the tumour has spread. Early tumours present with symptoms similar to benign tumours, while late ones present with abdominal distension, pain and vague gastrointestinal symptoms. The disease is most common in menopausal women. Earlier diagnosis and treatment can be achieved by ULTRASOUND screening. Treatment is surgical, aimed at totally removing the tumour mass. Nowadays RADIOTHERAPY is only used for palliation. CHEMOTHERAPY is often given to patients with ovarian metastases, or who have residual disease after surgery. The most active cytotoxic agent is the taxane, PACLITAXEL – especially when it is combined with cisplatin.... Medical Dictionary
The condition is caused by an imbalance between LUTEINISING HORMONE (LH) and FOLLICLE-STIMULATING HORMONE (FSH); this imbalance stops OVULATION and varies the TESTOSTERONE output of the ovaries. The treatment may be with CLOMIPHENE; with a PROGESTOGEN drug; with LUTEINISING HORMONE-RELEASING HORMONE (LHRH); or with oral contraceptives (see under CONTRACEPTION – Non-barrier methods). The treatment chosen depends on the severity of the disease and whether the woman wants to conceive. Rarely a section of ovarian tissue is surgically removed.... Medical Dictionary
Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) This, in e?ect, is a form of post-coital contraception. The IUCD is a plastic shape up to 3 cm long around which copper wire is wound, carrying plastic thread from its tail. Colloquially known as a coil, it acts by inhibiting implantation and may also impair migration of sperm. Devices need changing every 3–5 years. Coils have generally replaced the larger, non-copper-bearing ‘inert’ types of IUCD, which caused more complications but did not need changing (so are sometimes still found in situ). They tend to be chosen as a method of contraception (6 per cent) by older, parous women in stable relationships, with a generally low problem rate.
Nevertheless, certain problems do occur with IUCDs, the following being the most common:
They tend to be expelled by the uterus in women who have never conceived, or by a uterus distorted by, say, ?broids.
ECTOPIC PREGNANCY is more likely.
They are associated with pelvic infection and INFERTILITY, following SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES (STDS) – or possibly introduced during insertion.
They often produce heavy, painful periods (see MENSTRUATION), and women at high risk of these problems (e.g. women who are HIV positive [see AIDS/HIV], or with WILSON’S DISEASE or cardiac lesions) should generally be excluded – unless the IUCD is inserted under antibiotic cover.... Medical Dictionary
The secretion of prolactin is normally kept under tonic inhibition by the secretion of DOPAMINE which inhibits prolactin. This is formed in the HYPOTHALAMUS and secreted into the portal capillaries of the pituitary stalk to reach the anterior pituitary cells. Drugs that deplete the brain stores of dopamine or antagonise dopamine at receptor level will cause HYPERPROLACTINAEMIA and hence the secretion of milk from the breast and AMENORRHOEA. METHYLDOPA and RESERPINE deplete brain stores of dopamine and the PHENOTHIAZINES act as dopamine antagonists at receptor level. Other causes of excess secretion of prolactin are pituitary tumours, which may be minute and are then called microadenomas, or may actually enlarge the pituitary fossa and are then called macroadenomas. The most common cause of hyperprolactinaemia is a pituitary tumour. The patient may present with infertility – because patients with hyperprolactinaemia do not ovulate – or with amenorrhea and even GALACTORRHOEA.
BROMOCRIPTINE is a dopamine agonist. Treatment with bromocriptine will therefore control hyperprolactinaemia, restoring normal menstruation and ovulation and suppressing galactorrhoea. If the cause of hyperprolactinaemia is an adenomatous growth in the pituitary gland, surgical treatment should be considered.... Medical Dictionary
Tamoxifen is also used to treat INFERTILITY, being taken on certain days of the menstrual cycle (see MENSTRUATION).... Medical Dictionary
Ultrasound is replacing ISOTOPE scanning in many situations, and also RADIOGRAPHY. Ultrasound of the liver can separate medical from surgical JAUNDICE in approximately 97 per cent of patients; it is very accurate in detecting and de?ning cystic lesions of the liver, but is less accurate with solid lesions – and yet will detect 85 per cent of secondary deposits (this is less than COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY [CT] scanning). It is very accurate in detecting gall-stones (see GALL-BLADDER, DISEASES OF) and more accurate than the oral cholecystogram. It is useful as a screening test for pancreatic disease and can di?erentiate carcinoma of the pancreas from chronic pancreatitis with 85 per cent accuracy.
Ultrasound is the ?rst investigation indicated in patients presenting with renal failure, as it can quickly determine the size and shape of the kidney and whether there is any obstruction to the URETER. It is very sensitive to the presence of dilatation of the renal tract and will detect space-occupying lesions, di?erentiating cysts and tumours. It can detect also obstruction of the ureter due to renal stones by showing dilatations of the collecting system and the presence of the calculus. Adrenal (see ADRENAL GLANDS) tumours can be demonstrated by ultrasound, although it is less accurate than CT scanning.
The procedure is now the ?rst test for suspected aortic ANEURYSM and it can also show the presence of clot and delineate the true and false lumen. It is good at demonstrating subphrenic and subhepatic abscesses (see ABSCESS) and will show most intra-abdominal abscesses; CT scanning is however better for the retroperitoneal region. It has a major application in thyroid nodules as it can di?erentiate cystic from solid lesions and show the multiple lesions characteristic of the nodular GOITRE (see also THYROID GLAND, DISEASES OF). It cannot differentiate between a follicular adenoma and a carcinoma, as both these tumours are solid; nor can it demonstrate normal parathyroid glands. However, it can identify adenomas provided that they are more than 6 mm in diameter. Finally, ultrasound can di?erentiate masses in the SCROTUM into testicular and appendicular, and it can demonstrate impalpable testicular tumours. This is important as 15 per cent of testicular tumours metastasise whilst they are still impalpable.
Ultrasonic waves are one of the constituents in the shock treatment of certain types of gallstones and CALCULI in the urinary tract (see LITHOTRIPSY). They are also being used in the treatment of MENIÈRE’S DISEASE and of bruises and strains. In this ?eld of physiotherapy, ultrasonic therapy is proving of particular value in the treatment of acute injuries of soft tissue. If in such cases it is used immediately after the injury, or as soon as possible thereafter, prompt recovery is facilitated. For this reason it is being widely used in the treatment of sports injuries (see also SPORTS MEDICINE). The sound waves stimulate the healing process in damaged tissue.
Doppler ultrasound is a technique which shows the presence of vascular disease in the carotid and peripheral vessels, as it can detect the reduced blood ?ow through narrowed vessels.
Ultrasound in obstetrics Ultrasound has particular applications in obstetrics. A fetus can be seen with ultrasound from the seventh week of pregnancy, and the fetal heart can be demonstrated at this stage. Multiple pregnancy can also be diagnosed at this time by the demonstration of more than one gestation sac containing a viable fetus. A routine obstetric scan is usually performed between the 16th and 18th week of pregnancy when the fetus is easily demonstrated and most photogenic. The fetus can be measured to assess the gestational age, and the anatomy can also be checked. Intra-uterine growth retardation is much more reliably diagnosed by ultrasound than by clinical assessment. The site of the placenta can also be recorded and multiple pregnancies will be diagnosed at this stage. Fetal movements and even the heartbeat can be seen. A second scan is often done between the 32nd and 34th weeks to assess the position, size and growth rate of the baby. The resolution of equipment now available enables pre-natal diagnosis of a wide range of structural abnormalities to be diagnosed. SPINA BIFIDA, HYDROCEPHALUS and ANENCEPHALY are probably the most important, but other anomalies such as multicystic kidney, achondroplasia and certain congenital cardiac anomalies can also be identi?ed. Fetal gender can be determined from 20 weeks of gestation. Ultrasound is also useful as guidance for AMNIOCENTESIS.
In gynaecology, POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME can readily be detected as well as FIBROID and ovarian cysts. Ultrasound can monitor follicular growth when patients are being treated with infertility drugs. It is also useful in detecting ECTOPIC PREGNANCY. (See also PREGNANCY AND LABOUR.)... Medical Dictionary