OVARIES ANATOMYEach individual ovum is enclosed in a vast number of follicles that reside inside the ovaries. During the ovarian cycle, some of the follicles burst into maturity. This means that the ova which they are encasing are now ready to move into the subsequent stage of meiosis known as the oocyte stage. When the brain sends the signal to the ovaries that it is time to ovulate, the largest and most mature of the ova ruptures and the secondary oocyte is released.
OVARIES STRUCTUREOnce the follicle ruptures it is then referred to as the corpus luteum and then goes on to regress into the corpus albicans. Changes in hormone levels accompany the changes in the ovulation system, and as each stage of ovulation occurs. The ovaries serve as the female system’s primary paired sex organs. They are responsible for the production of ova and the production of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. Once a female body becomes sexually mature, the ovaries become solid ovoid elements that measure about 3.5 cm in length and approximately 2 cm in width. In most sexually mature female bodies they measure about 1 cm thick.
The age of the female body as well as the stage of reproduction the body is experiencing determines the color as well as the texture of the ovaries. Prior to puberty the ovaries appear smooth and pink. A young sexually mature body is going to present with ovaries which appear purplish gray or pinkish gray and become scarred and irregular due to the release of the eggs.
Ovarian nerves and vessels enter the ovaries via a hilum which is positioned on the medial side of each individual ovary. The ovaries are directly positioned so the lateral end points toward the open end of the uterine tube. In the pelvic cavity, each ovary is well positioned to share the uterus, one on each side. There is a mild depression within the posterior wall of the body called an ovarian fossa, which provides a place for the ovaries to position themselves. Each ovary is then held in place by various membrane attachments. The largest membrane which supports the entire reproductive tract is referred to as the broad ligament. This large membrane is the parietal peritoneum that is responsible for providing complete support for the uterus as well as the uterine tubes.
OVARIES FUNCTIONSThe broad ligament is equipped with a highly specialized extension that provides structural support for the ovary called the mesovarium. This extension protrudes posteriorly in the body. There is some additional support provided by the ovarian ligament which anchors to the uterus and the pelvic wall. This ligament is known as the suspensory ligament.
It takes 4 layers to create the individual ovaries. The thin outer layer is comprised of cuboidal epithelial cells and is called the germinal epithelium. A layer created from a collagen based connective tissue is next, which is called the tunica albuginea. An outer ovarian cortex and vascular inner ovarian medulla creates the secondary inner layers, although there is no disctinction between these two layers. Embedded in the cortical and medullary layers is the stroma, which is ovarian material that holds the necessary follicles and blood vessels.