Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


The Fertility Show


 

Book Review: The Reproductive System at a Glance

12 December 2011

By Dr Rebecca Robey

Appeared in BioNews 637

The Reproductive System at a Glance

By Professor Linda Heffner and Professor Danny Schust

Published by Wiley-Blackwell

ISBN-10: 1405194529, ISBN-13: 978-1405194525

Buy this book from Amazon UK

'The Reproductive System at a Glance' by Professor Linda Heffner and Professor Danny Schust


As a biomedical research scientist recently returned to university to retrain as a medic, I am very much the target audience for the re-issued academic textbook 'The Reproductive System at a Glance'.

Aimed predominately at medical students or junior doctors, it is organised into two parts, the first covering normal human reproduction and the second providing an overview of human reproductive disorders. Each chapter is presented as a single double-page spread of text, generally combined with one or two diagrams or tables.

The emphasis is on brevity, and as such there is no introduction or overview, which I felt could have been beneficial to readers who are relatively new to the subject or those not familiar with the layout and structure of the 'At a Glance' series. The narrative thus launches directly into Part I's opening chapter on the pituitary gland. Although the chapters are divided in to helpful subsections, I felt that some of these were overlong and could have been made more accessible by further subheadings. This is the case for the chapter for the chapter on secondary amenorrhoea (when women who have had previously normal menstrual cycles stop having periods).

The text itself is detailed, informative and very readable, despite its complex content. Technical terms and the occasional key phrase (for example 'galactorrhoea describes the secretion of breast-milk in states unassociated with nursing') are usefully emphasised using bold text. The language, however, assumes a considerable degree of familiarity with medical and biological terminology, restricting the readership to healthcare or biomedical science undergraduates and professionals.

The information provided on each topic is a detailed summary rather than an in-depth account. For example, the chapter on testicular tumours focuses only on the most common type, germ-cell tumours, providing an outline of the different subtypes and their main characteristics and associated secreted tumour markers. There is a brief discussion of useful parameters for diagnosis in high-risk patients and a short description of the usual treatment course and outcome and short sections follow on epidemiology and molecular biology. There is, however, detail on the histology of these malignancies; staging of tumours; or disease management.

The diagrams are for the most part clear and a helpful addition. The schematic timeline depicting how the stage at which the embryo splits to form twins affects the subsequent development of the twin embryos is particularly well laid-out. However, the diagrams and tables do not have legends and so frequently require careful reading of the accompanying text in order to achieve a thorough understanding of what they are depicting. In some cases, I struggled even after reading the relevant chapter, as abbreviations are sometimes not defined within the chapter. There are also occasions where the diagrams are not even given a title describing what they are depicting (for example, the flow charts in Chapter 30 and 38 are not labelled), which I felt was an unhelpful oversight.

In addition to updating the text to reflect the current state-of-knowledge and extending the scope to cover a greater spectrum of pregnancy complications and breast diseases, the new edition has had the notable addition of a section of multiple-choice questions at the end to provide an additional learning aid. Four questions are provided on the content of each chapter, and those covering Part II often take the form of a case study description for which you are asked to provide the appropriate diagnosis, or questioned on important parameters to consider when making a diagnosis.

I thought this was a helpful tool for reviewing and applying the knowledge gained from what is, overall, a very good revision guide or quick reference book for those with a reasonable existing grasp on the complexities of the human reproductive system.


Buy The Reproductive System at a Glance from Amazon UK.

SOURCES & REFERENCES

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

03 September 2012 - by Marco Narajos 
Most of us, at one point in our lives, have wondered, 'where did I come from?'. The answer we receive differs from one perspective to another. Biologists would most likely recount the complex and intriguing journey of embryology...

17 October 2011 - by George Frodsham 
A genetic mutation known to increase a woman's risk of cancer could also increase their fertility, research suggests. Women with mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which are associated with a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, were found to have larger families when compared to control groups...
01 August 2011 - by Dr Amy Strange 
'Biotechnology and Cloning' is part of a series of educational books for teenagers addressing 'contemporary social issues'. It is an unusual concept, being neither a textbook nor a revision guide. It does not directly explain the underlying science, but outlines and encourages the reader to think around the topics....
18 July 2011 - by Dr Malcolm Smith 
This edited essay collection tackles the ethics of reprogenetics; the intersection of reproductive and genetic technologies. The essays cover the role of gender in reprogenetics and the overlap between gender, assisted reproduction and genetic enhancement. The book is divided into five sections, each with several sub-chapters...
10 August 2009 - by Professor John Galloway 
Molecular biologist, (Lord) David Phillips once described to me, rather ruefully, a talk on genetics he had just given in the church hall in Banbury. Having been invited to talk on anything he chose, he sensibly asked who were likely to be in the audience. When told, mostly farmers and their families, he immediately plumped for genetics. If anyone would either be interested in genetics or have a basis of understanding it would surely be them. Selective breeding and inherited characteristics w...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Moving the Boundaries of Human Reproduction

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Jacques Cohen

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Andy Greenfield

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation