The ovaries are a pair of small glands located in the female pelvic cavity. They are known to be the most significant organs of the reproductive system of females. Their values can be determined from the simple fact that the two hormones they produce control not only the entire reproductive system in females, but also the female germ cells that get united with the male germ cells (sperm) in sexual reproduction to make a zygote and later, an embryo and fetus.
Both your ovaries are tiny glandular organs, each one of the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries are found in the lower abdomen on the opposed sides of your uterus in the pelvic cavity. Ovarian ligaments attach your ovaries to your uterus.
The ovarian tissues are divided into several distinctive layers, such as:
- Germinal Epithelium is the outermost layer of simple epithelium. It makes a soft and silky covering of your ovaries.
- Just beneath the germinal epithelium, a dense group of fibrous connective tissue is located, which is known as Tunica Albuginea. This layer is supportive and protective of the underlying subtle tissues.
- Underneath the Tunica Albuginea is found the Ovarian Cortex. It holds follicles with the supporting connective tissues in your ovaries. Each of the follicles contains an occyte, which matures into an ovum, during your reproductive years.
- The deepest layer is known as the Ovarian Medulla. This layer has most of the vascular tissue, which lend support to the other layers of your ovaries.
Your ovaries are vital in your reproductive system, which play dual role as Gonads and Glands.
- Estrogen plays the role of a catalyst and manages the growth of your mammary glands and your uterus in your teenage years (puberty). They also fuel the growth of your uterine lining during your menstrual cycle/periods.
- Progesterone helps your uterus during pregnancy in implanting embryo and its growth in your womb.
When you are born, your ovaries have circular bunches of cells, called follicles, ranging from 1000s (thousands) to (millions) 10,00,000s (millions) in number. Each follicle encases and holds up an oocyte (a female germ cell, called gametocyte).
Each oocyte, wrapped in the follicle, has the capability of maturing into an ovum (the female gamete). In spite of you having born with a large quantity of prospective ova, just nearly 4,000 oocytes manage to survive until you attain puberty. Out of these, near about 400 oocytes only get matured to become ova in your lifetime.
During your periods nearly 10-20 follicles with oocytes enveloped in them, start developing. The pituitary gland hormones guide the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to help the follicles do so. Out of all these follicles, only one cell is able to complete its development to become a mature ovum.
In the female reproductive system, the Fimbriae are fingerlike projections around the proximal opening of your Fallopian Tubes. These fimbriae, in fact, push the ovum from the surface of your ovary into the Fallopian Tubes for transporting it to your uterus for implanting in its vascular endometrial lining.