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23.2: Ovaries

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    The ovaries are the female gonads (see Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)). Paired ovals, they are each about 2 to 3 cm in length, about the size of an almond. The ovaries are located within the pelvic cavity, and are supported by the mesovarium, an extension of the peritoneum that connects the ovaries to the broad ligament. Extending from the mesovarium itself is the suspensory ligament that contains the ovarian blood and lymph vessels. Finally, the ovary itself is attached to the uterus via the ovarian ligament.

    This figure shows the structure and the different organs in the female reproductive system. The top panel shows the lateral view and the bottom panel shows the anterior view.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Female Reproductive System The major organs of the female reproductive system are located inside the pelvic cavity. (CC-BY-4.0, OpenStax, Human Anatomy)

    The ovary comprises an outer covering of cuboidal epithelium called the ovarian surface epithelium that is superficial to a dense connective tissue covering called the tunica albuginea. Beneath the tunica albuginea is the cortex, or outer portion, of the organ. The cortex is composed of a tissue framework called the ovarian stroma that forms the bulk of the adult ovary. Oocytes develop within the outer layer of this stroma, each surrounded by supporting cells. This grouping of an oocyte and its supporting cells is called a follicle. The growth and development of ovarian follicles will be described shortly. Beneath the cortex lies the inner ovarian medulla, the site of blood vessels, lymph vessels, and the nerves of the ovary. You will learn more about the overall anatomy of the female reproductive system at the end of this section.

    This page titled 23.2: Ovaries is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax.

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