Drugs Affecting the Reproductive System Androgens. This section will review androgens and antiandrogens which are commonly prescribed for men and women. Medications reviewed in this course are those limited to use in primary care or gynecology settings and do not include those drugs prescribed in specialty environments such as endocrinology or reproductive health. Endogenous androgens are responsible for key functions in the body such as normal growth and maturation of sex organs, skeletal growth, activation of sebaceous glands during puberty, enhancing production of erythropoietic stimulating factor for red blood cell production, and contributing to libido.
Contraception is a very personal decision in which both males and females often seek guidance from a health care provider. However, unplanned pregnancy rates still remain very high so health care providers should remain vigilant to discuss family planning and contraception plans with their patients. Considerations in choosing the right contraceptive method for each patient should include safety of the specific method, age of the patient, health and medical conditions, ability to comply with method chosen, frequency of sexual encounters, risk of sexually transmitted infections, and cost to the patient. The most important consideration after safety is compliance. If a method does not fit a patient’s lifestyle, it will most likely not equate to reliable prevention of an unplanned pregnancy.
For an in-depth review of this process, you can watch these videos for a deeper discussion and visualization of what is happening in the body. Understanding the physiology of the process will help you understand how drugs prescribed impact the body.
Reproductive Cycle Graph– Follicular Phase
Reproductive Cycle Graph- Luteal Phase (Links to an external site.)
Understanding the menstrual cycle and what happens in each phase provides a framework for choosing contraception for each patient. Likewise, based on the side effects a patient experiences with any particular contraception method also gives you an indication of what type of contraception to choose next. One great resource to help understand these differences is a book you may want to consider purchasing as you get closer to prescribing and managing contraceptives. While this book is certainly not required for this course and will not be used to test your knowledge, it is a potential resource for you in professional practice. The book is Managing Contraceptive Pill Patients by Richard Palmer Dickey, MD, PhD. This book contains a great table that will help you easily identify the best oral contraceptive possible for each patient based on their unique needs. However, in general terms, here is some guidance on contraceptive counseling in general since there is certainly more options than just oral contraceptives to be considered.
Estrogen, Progesterone, & Oral Contraception
This information is an overview of estrogen and progesterone as they relate to contraception. These are the two main hormones used in contraceptives. As the videos above explained, impacting these two hormones at different points in the luteal and follicular phases have different results to the patient.