The ovaries are considered the female gonads. Each ovary is whitish in color and located alongside the lateral wall of the uterus in a region called the ovarian fossa. The ovarian fossa is the region that is bounded by the external iliac artery and in front of the ureter and the internal iliac artery. This area is about 4 cm x 3 cm x 2 cm in size. The ovaries are surrounded by a capsule, and have an outer cortex and an inner medulla.
Usually, ovulation occurs in one of the two ovaries releasing an egg each menstrual cycle; however, if there was a case where one ovary was absent or dysfunctional then the other ovary would continue providing eggs to be released without any changes in cycle length or frequency.
The side of the ovary closest to the fallopian tube is connected to it by infundibulopelvic ligament, and the other side points downwards attached to the uterus via the ovarian ligament.
Other structures and tissues of the ovaries include the
The ovaries lie within the peritoneal cavity, on either side of the uterus, to which they are attached via a fibrous cord called the ovarian ligament. The ovaries are uncovered in the peritoneal cavity but are tethered to the body wall via the suspensory ligament of the ovary which is a posterior extension of the broad ligament of the uterus. The part of the broad ligament of the uterus that covers the ovary is known as the mesovarium.
The ovarian pedicle is made up part of the fallopian tube, mesovarium, ovarian ligament, and ovarian blood vessels.
The surface of the ovaries is covered with membrane consisting of a lining of simple cuboidal-to-columnar shaped mesothelium.
The outermost layer is called the germinal epithelium.
The outer layer is the ovarian cortex, consisting of ovarian follicles and stroma in between them. Included in the follicles are the cumulus oophorus, membrana granulosa (and the granulosa cells inside it), corona radiata, zona pellucida, and primary oocyte. Theca of follicle, antrum and liquor folliculi are also contained in the follicle. Also in the cortex is the corpus luteum derived from the follicles. The innermost layer is the ovarian medulla. It can be hard to distinguish between the cortex and medulla, but follicles are usually not found in the medulla.
Follicular cells flat epithelial cells that originate from surface epithelium covering the ovary, are surrounded by Granulosa cells - that have changed from flat to cuboidal and proliferated to produce a stratified epithelium
The ovary also contains blood vessels and lymphatics.