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What are ovaries?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The uterus is the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce eggs and female hormones. Hormones are chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs function.

Every month, during a woman's menstrual cycle, an egg grows inside an ovary. It grows in a tiny sac called a follicle. When an egg matures, the sac breaks open to release the egg. The egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus for fertilization. Then the sac dissolves. The empty sac becomes corpus luteum. Corpus luteum makes hormones that help prepare for the next egg.

The ovaries are the main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones affect:

  • The way breasts and body hair grow
  • Body shape
  • The menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy

This answer is based on source information from the National Women's Health Information Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.