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Geneva, Switzerland, WHO, 1965. 19 p. (WHO Technical Report Series No. 304)This WHO technical report focuses on the 1) psychosomatic factors in human reproduction; 2) hypothalamo-hypophyseal system; 3) mechanism of sexual rhythm; 4) nervous influences on the hypothalamus; 5) hormonal influences on the hypothalamus; 6) neuroendocrine aspects of sexual behavior; and 7) effects of drugs on reproduction. After summarizing current research status on the above-mentioned topics, the following research needs are suggested: 1) assays of individual human endogenous gonadotropins, suitable for clinical application; 2) autoradiography, fluorescent-antibody, spectrophometric interference and histochemical and biochemical techniques for studying cells that supply axons to the primary capillary plexus of the hypophyseal portal system and for studying effects of different hormonal status on hypothalmic structure and function; 3) computer techniques for evaluating electrophysiological data; 4) improved lesioning techniques; 5) comparative studies of reproductive activity patterns, exteroceptive factors, neuroendocrine factors in sexual and related social behavior, and long-term or delayed effects of drugs administered during gestation on subsequent sexual development; 6) studies of synaptic connections of hypothalamic neurones; 7) studies of endogenous gonadal and gonadotropin production in prepuberal animals; 8) functional significance of regional distribution of hypophyseal portal system; 9) mechanisms involved in selective uptake of labeled hormones; 10) hypothalamic lesions in species with spontaneous ovulation and active luteal function; 11) direct effect of gonadal hormones on single hypothalamic neurones studied with combination of microinjection and unit recording devices; 12) studies of the possibility of a direct feedback of gonadotropic hormones on the hypothalamus; 13) studies of the receptor mechanisms involved in neuroendocrine reflexes; 14) wider exploration of brain structures, with regard to feedback action of gonadal hormones; 15) studies of pineal function; 16) further investigation of a possible role of the peripheral autonomic pathways in reproductive processes; and 17) research on the application of tissue culture techniques for studying problems of the origin and metabolic effects of neurohormonal mediators and the biochemcial and morphological changes induced by sex hormones.
REPRODUCTION AND CONTRACEPTION. 1990 May; 10(2):6-9.Contraceptive research is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. It takes 15 to 25 years and 15 million US dollars to develop a new contraceptive method. Such an expensive investment made it inhibitive for developing countries to have their own contraceptive research. Most of them have to use foreign currency to import contraceptives. Besides a few pharmaceutical companies, there are 7 important organizations and agencies in the world that are engaged in sponsoring or organizing contraceptive research. Among these organizations, WHO/HRP and UNFPA have had more involvement in contraceptive research in China. The emphasis of funding from HRP in recent years has switched from supporting organizational building of research institutes to finding specific research projects. HRP has 10 task forces which reviews research proposals from over the world and funding is provided to the projects approved. UNFPA has allocated 4.5 million US dollars in contraceptive research in its 1990-1994 assistance programs to China. 3 important issues that need basic research are 1. male contraceptives 2. male infertility and 3. mechanism of female menstrual disturbance. In the past number of years, international organizations have placed great emphasis on social and behavior research related to contraceptive practice. Attention has also been given to the development of management skills in the research institutes so that the scarce resources could be used efficiently. Training of personnel has also been a major component of assistance from both HRP and UNFPA. It has been suggested that a training center be established in China to serve the need of China and Asia and Pacific region.
Studies in Family Planning. 1986 May-Jun; 17(3):153-60.Data from a prospective child health study conducted in Gaza by the WHO was used to examine the relationship between infant feeding and subsequent fertility. The study group consisted of 769 women living in 2 refugee camps in Gaza who gave birth in a 2-month period in 1978, and their index children, followed up for 23 months with monthly visits. Women who became pregnant within the 23 months were followed up until the end of their pregnancy. Women who practiced contraception after the birth of the index child were excluded. Life table analyses demonstrate a strong relationship between breastfeeding and 2 components of birth intervals, the postpartum anovulatory period and the waiting time from the end of the anovulatory period to conception. Duration of breastfeeding in this population averaged 12 months. Once menses have resumed, main factors related to waiting time to conception are age, husbands education, and measures of breastfeeding intensity and duration. Women who are breastfeeding when menstruation resumes and continue to do so are less likely to conceive than other women.
Healthright. 1985 Aug; 4(4):9-12.The pattern of reproductive activity displayed by early hunter-gatherer ancestors, before the dawn of civilization, must have been vastly different from today's pattern. In the absence of contraception such women would have spent the greater part of their reproductive lives either pregnant or in lactational amenorrhea. In developing these ideas further it was estimated that a hunter-gatherer woman would have spent about 15 years in lactational amenorrhea, whereas just under 4 years would have been occupied by her 5 pregnancies, and she would only have had about 4 years of menstrual cycles. The total number of menstrual cycles she would experience in her entire life would be no more than about 50. This is in marked contrast to the situation today in a typical Western woman using contraceptives and experiencing menarche at 13 and the menopause at 50. Allowing her 2 years' respite from cycles during her 2 pregnancies, each followed by only a token period of breastfeeding, this leaves 35 years during which she would experience about 420 menstrual cycles. The conclusion is that an excessive number of menstrual cycles is an iatrogenic disorder of communities practicing any form of contraception. Thus, it is important to note that even the condom or vasectomy have important repercussions on the female's reproductive cycle. Since 99.9% of human existence has been spent living a nomadic hunter-gatherer life, this high frequency of menstrual cycles is a new experience, one that humans may be genetically ill-adapted to cope with. In fact, there are a number of "diseases of nulliparity" whose incidence is markedly increased in women with few or no children and who are therefore experiencing an increased number of menstrual cycles. These diseases include carcinoma of the breast, endometrium and ovaries, and endometriosis. As part of the effort to develop contraceptives that promote a healthy state of fertility, it is necessary to ask the question, "is a period really necessary?" To learn if women women accept a contraceptive method that reduced the frequency of menstruation, a clinical trial of an oral contraceptive was conducted. The OC was administered in such a way as to produce a withdrawal bleed only once every 3 months. This was termed the tricycle pill regimen. 196 women attending a family planning clinic in Edinburgh, Scotland, volunteered to participate, although 89 of them subsequently withdrew from the trial for a variety of reasons before it was completed at the end of a year. Overall, 82% of the women positvely welcomed the reduction in the number of periods; 91% of the women who completed the trial even refused to revert to a standard monthly OC regimen thereafter. The findings were in complete contrast to the results of a World Health Organization survey of patterns and perceptions of menstruation. But the WHO sample was highly biased in favor of women having regular menstrual cycles, and hence quite unrepresentative of the population as a whole. In sum, even the most pessimistic estimate of the WHO's menstruation survey shows that a proportion of women in every country investigated were prepared to accept amenorhea as a by-product of contraception. Reversible amenorrhea might become an increasingly popular form of contraception, and it might also confer significant health benefits.
Nutritional anemia: its understanding and control with special reference to the work of the World Health Organization.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1979 Feb; 32(2):368-417.Since 1949, the World Health Organization, recognizing the public health importance of nutritional anemia, has sponsored efforts directed towards its understanding and control. During this period, often as a result of the work of the Organization, advances have been made in many areas. Basic understanding of iron, folate, and vitamin B12 nutrition, and the various factors which may influence the availability and requirements of these factors, has greatly increased. Surveys in a number of countries have highlighted the widespread prevalence of nutritional anemia, particularly in developing countries. The major factor responsible is a deficiency of iron, with folate deficiency also playing a role in some population groups, especially in pregnant women. There is increasing evidence that anemia adversely affects the health of individuals and may have profound socioeconomic consequences. Control of nutritonal anemia is possible by providing the deficient nutrient(s) either as therapeutic supplements or by fortification of commonly used foodstuffs. Some control programs are reviewed and suggestions for further action are outlined. The Organization still has an important role to play in this field, encouraging the development of control programs and providing advice and technical assistance to member countries. (author's)
September 1975. 41 p.Information gathered from knowledgeable sources (e.g., obstetricians, family doctors, pharmacists, nurses, family planning workers, and informal social network representatives) indicated the important position that menstrual bleeding, and the social implication related to it, holds in the life of Egyptian women. Menstrual bleeding is a sign of well-being, youth, fertility, and femininity. The majority of knowledgeable sources agreed that a normal cycle length among Eyptian women ranged from 21-32 days, whereas the normal bleeding interval ranged from 3-5 days. Abnormality, however, is a function of personal experience, i.e., a cycle is abnormal when it deviates from the woman's normal pattern. Egyptian women perceive menstrual blood as bad blood that they must lose every month, the retention is thought to result in bodily poisoning. Egyptian women are aware of specific color, smell, and texture of vaginal bleeding, and any change in quality or quantity is alarming. Illiterate women predict and recall their bleeding episodes by using a lunar calender which indicates national or religious ceremonies. Menarch is reported to be an occasion of joy signifying womanhood, whereas menopause is resented and dreaded, associated with drying or shrinking of the uterus. Menstruation is induced by various folk means, because it is believed that retention of blood causes cramping and that blood flow will alleviate that pain. The cleansing ritual after each cycle has both physical and religious importance.
In: Jeffcoate SL, ed. Ovulation: methods for its prediction and detection. Chichester, England, John Wiley, 1983. 33-47. (Current Topics in Reproductive Endocrinology Volume 3)This chapter reviews certain recognizable biological effects that occur due to the major changes in the circulating blood levels of estrogen and progesterone and discusses the ongoing use of these biological signals for the self detection of ovulation and the fertile phase of the cycle. These biological changes include the basal body temperature, changes in the cervix and its mucus secretion, mittelschmerz, and the menstrual cycle molimina. The calculation or calendar method is the oldest technique for determining the fertile period and followed the work of Ogino (1930) and Knaus (1933). The fertile phase of the cycle was identified from the records of the previous 6-12 menstrual cycles. The potential fertile period was then calculated on the following basis: define the shortest and the longest menstrual cycle over the preceding 6 and preferable 12 cycles; the 1st day of the potentially fertile phase is the longest cycle minus 11 days. For a women whose menstrual cycles have varied between 26-31 days, the potential fertile period would be days 8-20 of the cycle. The greatest weakness of the calendar calculation is that it depends on a prediction, based on the menstrual history, of what is likely to occur and not on what is actually taking place. Very rapid electronic thermometers are now available which offer considerable advantages over the clinical thermometer. The daily taking and charting of the basal body temperature (BBT) is the simplest and most widely used method for detecting ovulation. To overcome the drawbacks of the calendar method and the BBT method for identifying the fertile period, John and Evelyn Billings of Melbourne in the early 1970s developed the ovulation method. Self recognition of cervical mucus symptoms provides the woman with a simple means of detecting the fertile phase of her cycle and the likely time of ovulation. Individual cycle variation in the preovulatory duration of the symptoms limits the position of the prediction, yet the "peak" day correlates better with the time of ovulation than the shift in BBT. In addition to effects on cervical mucus, estrogen also changes the morphology of the cervix. The preovulatory rise in estrogensoftens the tissues of the cervix and opens the cervical os. The softened cervix and gaping os with a cascade of clear mucus is a sign of optimal estrogen response and of imminent ovulation. A World Health Organization (WHO) multicenter study of the ovulation method provided a substantial amount of information of the normal menstrual cycle of a large number of women of proven fertility in the age group 18-39 years whose cycles were not influenced by the use of hormonal or other contraceptive methods.