Ferguson Reflex

The Ferguson reflex is an example of positive feedback and the female body's response to pressure application in the cervix or vaginal walls.

Upon application of pressure, oxytocin is released and uterine contractions are stimulated (which will in turn increase oxytocin production, and hence, increase contractions even more), until the baby is delivered. The Ferguson reflex occurs in mammals.

Sensory information regarding mechanical stretch of the cervix is carried in a sensory neuron, which synapses in the dorsal horn before ascending to the brain in the anterolateral columns (ipsi and contralateral routes). Via the median forebrain bundle, the efferent reaches the PVN and SON of the hypothalamus. The posterior pituitary releases oxytocin due to increased firing in the hypothalamo-hypophyseal tract. Oxytocin acts on the myometrium, on receptors which have been upregulated by an increasing estrogen-progesterone ration. This causes myometrial contraction and further positive feedback on the reflex.


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