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Negative Feedback Loop - Menstrual Cycle

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Updated January 26, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: A negative feedback loop is a type of self-regulating system where increased output from the system inhibits future production by the system. In other words, the system controls how much product it makes by shutting down manufacturing when levels of output or the amount of accumulated product gets too high. Negative feedback systems are responsible for many types of hormone regulation in the human body since they are good at maintaining relatively constant levels of output.
Also Known As: inhibitory loop
Examples:
The hypothalamus produces gonadatropin releasing hormone (GnRH), which tells the pituitary to produce follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which tells the ovaries to produce estrogen. High levels of estrogen (as well as progesterone and testosterone, which are regulated through similar loops) however, inhibit the production of GnRH, causing the pituitary to make less FSH and the ovaries to make less estrogen. This is one of the negative feedback loops involved in controlling the female menstrual cycle.

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