Chapter 3 – The Ovary

The Ovary: An introduction

Anatomically each ovary is approximately 4cm in length, 2cm in width and 8mm in thickness in women of reproductive age, and smaller before puberty and after the menopause. The ovaries are typically located on either side of the uterus seated in the ovarian fossa. The tubal extremity is attached to the ovarian fimbria of the fallopian tube and to a fold of the peritoneum – the suspensory ligament of the ovary. The uterine end is attached to the lateral angle of the uterus immediately behind and below the uterine tube by the ligament of the ovary.(1)

The ovary is responsible for oocyte maturation and release (ovulation) and the production of steroid hormones. In a woman who is ovulating the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the anterior pituitary (in response to hypothalamic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone or GnRH production) stimulates the growth of a cohort of ovarian follicles, usually only one of which develops and becomes ‘dominant’. In turn, the granulosa cells of these ovarian follicles produce the hormone oestradiol. Increasing levels of oestradiol trigger a surge of luteinising hormone (LH) that causes the dominant follicle to ovulate. This then becomes the corpus luteum which secretes the hormone progesterone as well as ... Buy now