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The ovary is an ovum-producing reproductive organ, often found in pairs as part of the vertebrate female reproductive system. Ovaries in female individuals are analogous to testes in male individuals, in that they are both gonads and endocrine glands.
Ovaries secrete both estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is responsible for the appearance of secondary sex characteristics of females at puberty and for the maturation and maintenance of the reproductive organs in their mature functional state. Progesterone functions with estrogen by promoting menstrual cycle changes in the endometrium.
The ovary (for a given side) is located in the lateral wall of the pelvis in a region called the ovarian fossa. The fossa usually lies beneath the external iliac artery and in front of the ureter and the internal iliac artery. The ovaries are not attached to the fallopian tubes but to the outer layer of the uterus via the ovarian ligaments. Usually each ovary takes turns releasing eggs every month; however, if there was a case where one ovary was absent or dysfunctional then the other ovary would continue providing eggs to be released.
In humans the paired ovaries lie within the pelvic 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. The part of the broad ligament of the uterus that covers the ovary is known as the mesovarium. Thus, the ovary is the only organ in the human body which is totally invaginated into the peritonium, making it the only intraperitoneal organ (not to be confused with interperitoneal).
There are two extremities to the ovary: (1) the end to which the uterine tube attaches is called the tubal extremity, and (2) the uterine extremity. It points downward, and it is attached to the uterus via the ovarian ligament.