22.2.10 Ovary

Females have a pair of ovaries located in the abdomen. Ovary is the primary female sex organ which produces one ovum during each menstrual cycle. In addition, ovary also produces two groups of steroid hormones called estrogen and progesterone.

Ovary is composed of ovarian follicles and stromal tissues. The estrogen is synthesised and secreted mainly by the growing ovarian follicles. After ovulation, the ruptured follicle is converted to a structure called corpus luteum, which secretes mainly progesterone.

Estrogens produce wide ranging actions such as stimulation of growth and activities of female secondary sex organs, development of growing ovarian follicles, appearance of female secondary sex characters (e.g., high pitch of voice, etc.), mammary gland development.

Estrogens also regulate female sexual behaviour. Progesterone supports pregnancy. Progesterone also acts on the mammary glands and stimulates the formation of alveoli (sac-like structures which store milk) and milk secretion.

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