The ovaries are vital components of the normal development and reproduction of women. At birth, each ovary contains approximately 2 million immature ova or oocytes, which are formed during the early stages of life.
Similar to the size of an almond, the ovaries are positioned adjacent to and on both sides of the uterus in the lower abdomen. An unruptured, shining, clear, graafian follicle and a miniscule corpus luteum is frequently seen on the ovary’s surface.
The role of the ovaries is to make, mature and release egg cells. During the progression, the ovaries manufacture oestrogen and progesterone; start and control the menstrual cycles. The removal of ovaries before puberty, ensuring the absence of oestrogen inhibits breast to mature at puberty. Furthermore, distribution of pubic hair mirrors more that of a male configuration rather than the usual. After menopause, the uterus, ovaries and breast all reduce in size due to the lack of oestrogen. Ovarian task, therefore, is essential for development and regulation of secondary sex characteristics for women.
The oestrogen is released by the ovaries and is significant in averting osteoporosis due to the removal of calcium within the bones. This usually happens in women post-menopausal, making them susceptible to hip and spinal fractures. Since cholesterol is fused into oestrogen, the making of oestrogen is believed to regulate cholesterol levels at a minimum, thus off-putting the effects of atherosclerosis or artery disease relating to women.
The Support Ligaments
The ovaries are supported by three very strong support ligaments connected to the uterus or the pelvic wall. The ligaments are distinct among the structures in the pelvis because they are not enclosed by a peritoneum. Due to the reason that they are not covered this way, the egg cell can flow through from them and reach the uterus using the fallopian tubes. Since the ovaries are suspended and not fixed in one place, any abnormal tumour or cyst developing on them are able to enlarge easily to double of that organ before significant pressure on adjacent organs of the ovarian supply of blood leads to symptom of compression.
The Reproductive Cells
The egg cells are unique from other cells in the body in the amount of chromosomes the egg cells hold in the nucleus. 46 chromosomes are contained in all other human body cells, comprising of 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. An XX sex chromosomes results in a female and an XY sex chromosomes results in a male. The reproductive cells contain only 1/2 of the usual amount of chromosomes, so when they merge, the individual formed will have the normal number of chromosomes which is 46. Cells in the body undergo cell division by mitosis or daughter cell division; however, egg cells divide by mitotic division.
Maturation of the Oocytes
Each egg cell is located in the ovary enclosed by a protecting sac called follicle. The structure in this state is referred as primordial follicle. About 5 and 7 million of these are formed in the utero first. Most never develop so that’s why about 2 million exist at birth. At age 7, about 500,000 can be found in each ovary; by age 22, about 300,000 are present and by menopause or the termination of fertile period, there is nothing left
Understanding the complexity and importance of the ovaries allows all of us to peek into the wonders of how the body works. Having knowledge on this topic is not only good for women but also for men. Appreciation of the ovaries and its vital role leads to better care of it and perhaps a way to living free from ovarian cancer, which continues to be one of the leading cause of death from cancer in women.