EFFECTS OF SPACEFLIGHT AND ALTERED GRAVITY ON REPRODUCTIVE PROCESSES OF FEMALE MAMMALS
In recent years, the numbers of female astronauts has grown immensely. As we move forward with the Vision for Space Exploration, women are expected to increase their involvement in the Space Program and particularly, long-duration missions. The new space initiative calls for completing and utilizing the International Space Station (ISS), establishing an extended human presence on the moon, and preparing for the Mission to Mars, all of which require sustained habitation of space. In view of these plans, it is vital that we improve our understanding of acute and enduring effects of space travel on the female reproductive system. There is limited knowledge of the effects of space and altered gravity effects on the human female reproductive system, however animal studies have provided some understanding of these changes. In this presentation, I will describe the current state of knowledge of spaceflight and gravity-induced changes in reproductive function in female mammals, including estrus cycling, ovarian function, conception, pregnancy, birth, maternal-offspring interactions and postnatal development.