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The Ovary

The ovary is the female gonad and a gland producing the ova. The ovarian cortex comprises connective tissue and contains the ovarian follicles. Twins result when sometimes a woman's ovaries release two eggs, and a separate sperm fertilizes each egg.


Each follicle contains a developing ovum. The ovum is a single cell released from either of the ovaries. It can develop into a new life when fertilized by a sperm cell.

Primordial follicle

At birth, the ovary contains around 400 000 primordial follicles. Each consists of a primary oocyte surrounded by a single layer of flat, supporting granulosa cells.

Primary follicle

A primary follicle is an ovarian follicle consisting of an oocyte surrounded by a layer of cuboidal granulosa cells. When the primordial follicle is stimulated, it becomes a primary follicle.

Developing follicles

Follicle development is stimulated by the pituitary gland's production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The ovarian follicle provides the oocyte with the ideal environment for growth and development.

Graffian follicles

A fluid-filled, spherical cyst in the ovary that ruptures during ovulation to release an ovum. It is responsible for estrogen production in the ovary. After the release of the ovum, the follicle develops into a corpus luteum.

Ruptured follicle

The key event of the ovulatory process is follicle rupture which then releases the egg. The fallopian tube fimbriae sweep across the burst follicle and pick up the egg.

Early Corpus Luteum

It is the remains of the ovarian follicle that has released a mature ovum. It is a temporary endocrine gland in the ovary. During the luteal phase, it is crucial for fertility.

Corpus Luteum

A corpus luteum is a yellowish mass of cells that forms in an ovary. The corpus lutein secretes progesterone and estrogen. It causes the uterus lining to thicken in preparation for pregnancy.

Corpus Albicans

The corpus albicans is an ovarian scar composed of connective tissue that forms after the corpus luteum degenerates. The corpus albicans is primarily collagen and persists on the ovary for a few months.

Blood vessels

The ovarian artery is a direct branch of the abdominal aorta. The ovarian artery supplies oxygenated blood to the ovary, fallopian tube, and uterus. The right vein usually drains into the inferior vena cava, whereas the left drains into the left renal vein.