Reproductive Health Issues

What Women Should Know About Their Ovaries

June 24, 2018

The ovaries are glands that are part of the reproductive system. The ovaries are all about the size and shape of an almond and sit just above the fallopian tubes — one ovary on each side of the uterus. Each month during childbirth, either the right or left ovary creates a single mature egg for fertilization.

Ovarian Follicles and Ovulation

Did you know that if a baby girl is born, she has about 1,000,000 ovarian follicles?

Each ovarian follicle includes a hollow ball of cells with an immature egg at the center. During childhood, approximately half of ovarian follicles have been consumed by your system. From the time a girl reaches her menstrual cycle begins, just around 400,000 ovarian follicles are left to grow into eggs.

Although only one egg generally fully develops during ovulation, somewhere between ten and 20 follicles start the process of maturation monthly. The surplus ovarian follicles are reabsorbed before ovulation happens.

The process of ovulation is started and controlled by a drop in the hormone estrogen (mainly estradiol secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) thus sending a message to the pituitary gland to increase its secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The growth in FSH causes the growth of ten to 20 of the ovarian follicles.

Estrogen is secreted by some of the cells in the follicle.

Just before ovulation occurs, the follicle which includes the maturing egg eases toward the surface of the gut. When the egg reaches on the gut surface, ovulation occurs when the follicle and the ovarian surface open letting the egg to drift out of the gut.

Furthermore, progesterone can be produced by the cells from the ovarian follicles shortly before ovulation happens.

After ovulation, if pregnancy has not occurred, the empty follicle is called the corpus luteum and it’s reabsorbed into the body. If pregnancy does occur the corpus luteum produces hormones that help to maintain the pregnancy.

After the egg has been released from the gut it travels to the oviducts (the funnel-shaped ends of the fallopian tubes) in which it begins its long journey of several days into the uterus. The egg is moved along on its travel through the fallopian tubes from wavelike muscle contractions in the fallopian tube. The internal lining of each fallopian tube includes cilia which are always beating microscopic hairs; these cilia are what helps move the sperm to the egg if a woman has unprotected sexual intercourse. Conception (the fertilization of an egg with sperm) most frequently happens in the part of the tubes which is nearest the gut. Five to six days are required for the fertilized egg to make it to the uterus.

Midcycle Pain or Discomfort

Some girls experience a twinge, a cramp, or some discomfort in the lower back or stomach when ovulation happens. Women sometimes notice a small number of vaginal discharge, sometimes containing a small quantity of blood, during ovulation.

For many women, these symptoms are severe enough to be confused for an ectopic pregnancy or appendicitis. Other women experience headaches, gastric pain, or a general malaise; while others women experience feeling better through ovulation. When women experience these symptoms during ovulation it’s named Mittelschmerz or midcycle painkillers.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs, similar to blisters.  Ovarian cysts are common among women during their reproductive years and therefore are signs that form on both of both almond-sized glands on each side of the uterus. Most kinds of ovarian cysts are harmless and go away with no treatment.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects an estimated seven percent of women. It’s by far the most common hormonal disorder among women. According to specialists, the actual number of women affected by PCOS may be as high as one out of ten only because many cases remain undiagnosed. Why are a lot of cases of PCOS undiagnosed? Since the signs can vary from woman to woman it’s often hard to correctly diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome. Because polycystic ovary syndrome may cause substantial long-term health effects, a speedy and accurate diagnosis, followed by proper treatment is urgent.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often called the”silent” killer because most times there are no symptoms before the disease has progressed to an advanced phase. One-third of American girls will get some kind of cancer in their lifetime and about 1.4 percent of those instances will be cancer involving one or both ovaries.

Fallopian tubes that were damaged by diseases, infections, or other ailments may be scarred, damaged, or destroyed which occasionally can cause an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy to happen. Some of the causes of fallopian tube damage include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, or IUDs, as well as some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or other rectal infections.

Eggs that aren’t fertilized, either clot or stream out of their body (unnoticed) with vaginal secretions.