With sex education abysmal in the US, most of us go about our adult lives knowing very little about how our bodies function. I remember mine was just a one day (or was it three?) session in high school that covered various sex ed topics and all I remember from this was Erica So asking what the white stuff was that would end up on your panties. So in this article we´re revisiting sex ed so you can learn exactly what you need to know about your ovaries.

The ovaries are the female equivalent of testicles and are the most important female reproductive organ. They´re located in the pelvis on each side of the uterus and are about 4 centimeters long. Each woman has two ovaries that serve two purposes: to produce eggs and produce hormones.

You´re born with all the egg cells you´ll ever have and lose them throughout your lifetime. If you´re curious about numbers, it´s around two million that each woman is born with, which goes down to 300,000 to 400,000 by puberty. Then each month one egg is released during ovulation and around 400 to 500 eggs total will be released for possible fertilization.

Image from: PUbMedHealth

Ovarian Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

All eggs inside your ovaries are enclosed by a follicle and as they begin to develop the follicle grows and produces the hormone eostrogen. One egg will mature, and after it’s released during ovulation, the empty follicle is called the corpus luteum. Estrogen is then produced, preparing the lining of the uterus. If the egg is not fertilized while waiting in the fallopian tube (around 24 hours) the corpus luteum starts to break down and hormone production stops, prompting the body to excrete the lining through menstruation (aka your period)

Hormone Production

The ovaries produce two main hormones: progesterone and estrogen.

The functions of estrogen:

  • Breast development
  • Reproductive organ development
  • Menstrual cycle reguation
  • Women’s mental health
  • Improves collagen level and skin thickness

Progesterone, which is produced by the corpus luteum in the ovary, is responsible for:

  • Preparing the body for pregnancy
  • Establishing the placenta during the beginning stages of pregnancy
  • Stimulates growth of maternal breast tissue

Ovarian Disorders

Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS):

PCOS is, in fact, a syndrome of a group of symptoms that affect the ovaries and ovulation such as cysts, irregular periods and a high level of male hormones. These cysts are caused by follicle buildup on the ovaries. Each of these follicles contain an egg that never matures enough to cause ovulation. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown though it is believed to be caused by high levels of male hormones.

Endometriosis:

Endometriosis is when the tissue of the uterine lining is present on other organs, usually lower abdomen and pelvis. There are many symptoms associated with endometriosis such as painful intercourse, painful menstrual cramps and infertility, but you can also have no smptoms. The only way to know for sure is by having a laparoscopy and having a sample analzyed. The exact cause is unknown.

Other Ovarions Disorders:

Written By: Andrea Lee, @organicbeautylover

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