The ovary is an organ made up of two glands , known by the designation of ovaries . With the uterus , the fallopian tubes (also known as “uterine tubes” or “salpingi”), the vagina and vulva , the ovaries make up the female reproductive system .
What is the ovary?
The ovaries (or female gonads) are two almond-shaped glands, located respectively on the sides of the uterus. The ovaries have dimensions that, in an adult woman, are about 4 cm long, 2 cm wide and 1 cm thick . Of the ligaments connected the ovaries to the uterus and the tubes, allowing a relative autonomy of mobility.
The size of the ovary varies over time . Small in early childhood, they increase during the woman’s fertility period. Women with many children, for example, normally have larger ovaries. In old age, it is possible to notice a decrease in the ovaries.
The ovaries are made up of an upper pole and a lower pole . The upper pole – or tubal – is linked to the infundibulum of the uterine tube. The lower pole – or uterine – is thinner, and connected to the uterus by the utero-ovarian ligament.
The ovaries are made up of two layers of tissue. The medullary part , i.e. the innermost layer, has a dense connective tissue and blood vessels that allow the organ to be fed and nourished . The innermost layer is known as the cortical part . It contains about 70% of the entire ovarian gland, as well as all the ovarian follicles at different stages of maturation. Every 28 days , the ovarian follicles allow the maturation of an oocyte and the consequent expulsion of an ovum, a fundamental element for reproduction.
What is the ovary for?
Ovaries have two functions:
1) they produce eggs , an essential factor for reproduction (gametogenic function).
2) they also perform an endocrine function , since they also give off the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and a small amount of androgens) which control every phase of the female reproductive life.
Every 28 days , an egg reaches maturity , and is released from the ovary to allow fertilization. The ovum expelled from the ovarian follicle moves along the fallopian tube (or salpinge, or uterine tuba). The ovarian follicle then gradually begins to secrete estrogen and progesterone, forming a corpus luteum ready to receive the fertilized egg. If fertilization has not taken place, the corpus luteum regresses, and the egg is expelled with the menstrual flow . If fertilization has taken place, the egg moves from the tubes, to implant itself in the uterus, and to start a pregnancy .