This chapter describes a number of clinical procedures related to the reproductive system that commonly occur in children. After completing this chapter you will have a working knowledge of the reproductive system and will have accomplished the following learning objectives. After reading this chapter you should be able to: ● Describe the anatomy of the female reproductive system including the external genitalia, the ovaries, the accessory reproductive structures, and the mammary glands. ● Describe the ovarian and menstrual cycles and the hormones that regulate them. ● Describe the anatomy of the male reproductive system including the external genitalia, the testes, the internal ducts, and the glands. ● Discuss the procedures involved in preparing the child for pelvic examination, demonstrating an awareness of the cultural, ethical, and legal implications of this examination. ● Explain and prepare the child for a swab procedure. ● Undertake the post-operative care of dressings on genitalia. Before embarking on this chapter it would be helpful to read through Chapter Two and Chapter Four, to provide you with relevant background skills required in this context. Informed consent and child protection are quite important related issues, and are covered in great detail in Chapter Four. The initial part of this chapter describes the anatomy and physiology of the reproductive system as a background towards understanding the relevant nursing care. This discussion is not intended to replace detailed study of anatomy and physiology, and for further and more detailed instruction on the topic you ought to consult a key text such as Martini & Nath (2008). The female reproductive system is regulated in a cyclical manner by hormones. The onset of the first menstrual cycle (menarche) occurs at puberty, and the female has the capacity to become pregnant up until the menopause, when the menstrual cycle ceases. The essential sex organs of the female reproductive system are the ovaries, which release one ovum (egg) each month. The fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, and the mammary glands (breasts) make up the female accessory reproductive structures. The anatomy of the female reproductive system is illustrated in Figure 16.1.
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