This page tells you about the ovaries and how they work. You can find the following information
The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system. The reproductive system is made up of the vagina, womb or uterus (which includes the cervix), fallopian tubes and ovaries.
There are 2 ovaries, one on each side of the body. The ovaries produce an egg each month in fertile women. The ovaries also produce the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Your ovaries produce these hormones throughout the years of your life when it is possible for you to become pregnant. The hormones control your menstrual cycle. As you get older and menopause approaches, the ovaries make less and less of these hormones and periods eventually stop altogether.
Before the menopause, fertile women develop cysts in the ovary every month as an egg develops. These normally disappear within a few months. Cysts are fluid filled sacks. They are not usually cancerous. But they should be investigated if they are there for longer than normal, are unusually large, cause symptoms or if you get them when you are post menopausal.
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The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system. The reproductive system is made up of the
- Womb or uterus (which includes the cervix)
- Fallopian tubes
There are 2 ovaries, one on each side of the body. The ovaries produce an egg each month in women of childbearing age.
Women are able to have children between puberty (when the periods start) and the menopause (or change of life, when the periods stop). The age when periods start and stop varies a great deal.
In the middle of each menstrual cycle (mid way between periods), an egg travels down one of the fallopian tubes and into the womb. The lining of the womb gets thicker and thicker, ready to receive the fertilised egg. If this egg is not fertilised by sperm, the thickened lining of the womb is shed as a period. Then the whole cycle begins again.
The ovaries also produce the female sex hormones. These are
The ovaries produce these hormones throughout the years when women can become pregnant. The hormones control the menstrual cycle. As you get older and closer to menopause, the ovaries make less and less of these hormones and periods eventually stop.
More recently doctors have learned that ovarian hormones also help to protect the heart and bones and maintain brain and immune system health.
The ovaries also produce a small amount of the male hormone testosterone. It is not completely clear what role testosterone has in women. But doctors think it helps with muscle and bone strength. And it may have a role in a woman’s sex drive (libido).
In young women the ovaries are about 3cm long. After the menopause they tend to shrink. Doctors cannot usually feel the ovaries during a medical examination, except in young, thin women. Some women have cysts on their ovaries. Cysts are fluid filled sacks. They are not usually cancerous.
In women of childbearing age, small cysts develop in the ovary every month as an egg develops. This is normal and they usually disappear without treatment within a few months. You should have tests if the cysts
- Are there for longer than normal
- Are unusually large
- Cause symptoms
- Develop when you are past your menopause
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