Microanatomy of the female reproductive organs in postmenopause by scanning electron microscopy

S. Makabe, P. M. Motta, T. Naguro, E. Vizza, G. Perrone, L. Zichella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The detailed three-dimensional ultrastructural features of the reproductive organs of menopausal and postmenopausal women were studied by means of integrated transmission and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and reported in a new colored microtopographical fashion. These methods revealed significant alterations in the microanatomy of the various reproductive organs specifically related to the decline of plasma estrogen levels. In particular, the ovary progressively showed characteristic wide areas of loss of epithelium with consequent exposure of the underlying connective tissue. Both endometrial and tubal mucosa demonstrated a gradual but often dramatic decrease in the number of ciliated cells which was more evident in the tube. In addition, the non-ciliated (microvillous secretory) cells of the uterus, including both endocervix and tubal mucosa, became flattened and, in some instances, their apical poles developed unusual wrinkles (microridges or microplicae). The ectocervix and vaginal squamous cells presented a reduction in the number of their microridges and changes in the typical structural organization. These microtopographical results showed that the decline of estrogen during the menopause and postmenopause induces important and complex structural changes of the woman's reproductive system, much more detailed than those revealed to date by the use of only conventional optical and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The three-dimensional findings offer the opportunity to re-evaluate the classic histopathology of the above aging organs using more refined microtopographical and morphophysiopathological parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998


  • Anatomy
  • Cervix
  • Fallopian tube
  • Menopause
  • Ovary
  • Postmenopause
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Ultrastructure
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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