The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. In the female embryo, the pre-stages of hundreds of thousands of egg cells are already formed in the womb, but relatively few of these mature in the ovaries during a woman’s lifetime.
The two ovaries are located on each side of the uterus and can be palpated with two fingers by feeling through the abdominal wall and through the vagina. The oval-shaped ovaries are connected to the fallopian tubes, onto which the matured egg cell is passed on once per cycle at ovulation.
Another function of the ovaries is the production and secretion of various hormones which maintain and regulate the menstrual cycle from puberty to menopause. These include the hormones estrogen and progesterone, also known as the female sex hormones. The production of these hormones is controlled by the pituitary gland, which releases the messenger compounds FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone).
The ovaries also produce small amounts of testosterone, also known as the male sex hormone.