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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

Ovaries

The ovaries are the two reproductive female organs where the eggs are produced. These are parallel to the testes in men.

Formation and Orientation

Each ovary is the size of an almond and is located on one side of the pelvis before the ureter and internal iliac artery but after the external iliac artery. They are attached to either side of the uterus. They are connected and release eggs to fallopian tubes, though not attached, monthly during the menstrual cycle. They also produce feminine hormones.

In the ovary, there are three main types of cells. Follicular cells are flat, epithelial cells lining the ovary. As these change in shape becoming flourished to create a more structured epithelium, they transform into granulosa cells. These cells line the vesicular ovaries that become luteal cells after ovulation. Finally the gametes, which are the sex cells that form the ova (eggs) that are produced in the ovaries.

There are three layers that make up the ovaries. The layer on the inside is called the ovarian medulla and the middle layer is called the ovarian cortex. The difference between the two layers is the lack of ovarian follicles in the medulla. In the cortex though, there are also stroma which are stroma which are the connective tissues and blood vessels. The final layer covering the outside of the ovary is the epithelium.

The ovaries are the female gonads which are formed during a certain time in the embryonic development process. For females, the gonads are developed ranging from month five to month seven in this progressive cycle.

Function

There are two main functions of the ovary; ova production and hormonal release. When a female is born, she possesses all of the eggs she will have for her entire lifetime. These are formed throughout the pregnancy but none will grow after birth.

During a woman’s menstrual cycle, for the first part, Estrogen is the female hormone produced but later on in the cycle, Progesterone  is the hormone produced which helps to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Also at times, the ovary produces little amounts of the male sex hormone, testosterone.

Image Caption: Blood supply of the human female reproductive organs. The left ovary is visible above the label “ovarian arteries”. Credit: Wikipedia

Ovaries