What I Have Learned

By: Nicole Todd

Human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV, is the cause of AIDS, which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Transmission of the virus occurs most commonly through the exchange of body fluids by sharing needles, sharing intravenous drugs or through unprotected sex. Early patient education is the key to lowering the rate of this virus.

The Endocrine System

In response to stress, the endocrine system quickly secretes various hormones at higher-than-normal levels in order to help the body mobilize more energy and adapt to new circumstances.

For example, the pituitary-adrenal axis starts releasing adrenaline to increase the volume of blood pumped out by the heart and the blood flowing to the skeletal muscles. And during acute physical stress, the pituitary gland may also ramp up the secretion of the growth hormone, which enhances metabolic activity.

The Menstrual System

Menstruation (a period) is a major stage of puberty in girls; it's one of the many physical signs that a girl is turning into a woman.

And like a lot of the other changes associated with puberty, menstruation can be confusing. Some girls can't wait to start their periods, whereas others may feel afraid or anxious. Many girls (and guys!) don't have a complete understanding of a woman's reproductive system or what actually happens during the menstrual cycle, making the process seem even more mysterious.

Male Reproductive System

The male reproductive system consists of the testes and their associated excurrent ducts to conduct sperm to the outside. Usually also included in this system are various male accessory glands which produce non-sperm components of the ejaculate; and that portion of the urethra which is used for the transport of semen. It also includes the intromittent organ, the penis.

Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system is designed to carry out several functions. It produces the female egg cells necessary for reproduction, called the ova or oocytes. The system is designed to transport the ova to the site of fertilization.Conception, the fertilization of an egg by a sperm, normally occurs in the fallopian tubes. The next step for the fertilized egg is to implant into the walls of the uterus, beginning the initial stages of pregnancy. If fertilization and/or implantation does not take place, the system is designed to menstruate (the monthly shedding of the uterine lining). In addition, the female reproductive system produces female sex hormones that maintain the reproductive cycle.


When periods (menstruations) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of 1 period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teen.

Pregnancy and Labor
As you approach your due date, you will be looking for any little sign that labor is about to start. You might notice that your baby has "dropped" or moved lower into your pelvis. This is called "lightening." If you have a pelvic exam during your prenatal visit, your doctor might report changes in your cervix that you cannot feel, but that suggest your body is getting ready. For some women, a flurry of energy and the impulse to cook or clean, called "nesting," is a sign that labor is approaching.Some signs suggest that labor will begin very soon. Call your doctor or midwife if you have any of the following signs of labor. Call your doctor even if it's weeks before your due date — you might be going into preterm labor. Your doctor or midwife can decide if it's time to go to the hospital or if you should be seen at the office first.

  • You have contractions that become stronger at regular and increasingly shorter intervals.
  • You have lower back pain and cramping that does not go away.
  • Your water breaks (can be a large gush or a continuous trickle).
  • You have a bloody (brownish or red-tinged) mucus discharge. This is probably the mucus plug that blocks the cervix. Losing your mucus plug usually means your cervix is dilating (opening up) and becoming thinner and softer (effacing). Labor could start right away or may still be days away.


What Are the Symptoms of STDs?

Sometimes, there are no symptoms of STDs. If symptoms are present, they may include one or more of the following:

~Bumps, sores, or warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina.

~Swelling or redness near the penis or vagina.

  • Skin rash.
  • Painful urination.
  • Weight loss, loose stools, night sweats.
  • Aches, pains, fever, and chills.
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
  • Discharge from the penis or vagina. (Vaginal discharge may have an odor.)
  • Bleeding from the vagina other than during a monthly period.
  • Painful sex.
  • Severe itching near the penis or vagina.


Abstinence is not having sex. A person who decides to practice abstinence has decided not to have sex.

How Does It Work?

If two people don't have sex, then sperm can't fertilize an egg and there's no possibility of a pregnancy. Some forms of birth control depend on barriers that prevent the sperm from reaching the egg (such as condoms or diaphragms). Others interfere with the menstrual cycle (as birth control pills do). With abstinence, no barriers or pills are necessary because the person is not having sex.

You don't have to be a virgin to practice abstinence. Sometimes people who have been having sex decide not to continue having sex. Even if a person has been having sex, he or she can still choose abstinence to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the future.

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