The female genital organs consist of:

  • the ovaries
  • uterine tubes
  • uterus
  • vagina and,
  • external genital organs.

The paired ovaries and uterine tubes and the single uterus are situated in the pelvic cavity. The single vagina is located partly within the pelvic cavity and partly in the perineum. The external genital organs lie in front of and below the pubis.




  1. Oogenesis - produce ova after puberty.
  2. Parts of the m function as endocrine glands , and are responsible for the production of two main hormones:
  • estrogen, or follicular hormone, secreted by the ovarian follicle. It controls the development of the secondary sexual characteristics, such as the enlargement of the breasts, the deposition of fat over the hips and buttocks, and the growth of pubic and axillary hair.

It also initiates the growth of the lining of the uterus during the menstrual cycle.

  • progesterone, or corpus luteum hormone, secreted by the corpus luteum. It is indispensable for the implantation of the fertilized ovum and for the early development of the embryo. The secretion of both ovarian hormones is controlled by the gonadotrophic hormone from the pars distalis of the hypophysis. The ovaries are homologous with the testes of the male.
  • A third hormone, called relaxin, is secreted by the ovary during pregnancy. It is said to inhibit premature contraction of the uterus during pregnancy, and , in certain mammals, is responsible for the relaxation of the sacroiliac joint and the pubic symphysis. The ovary also produces several paracine factors.


In a woman who has not borne children (nullipara), The ovary is situated on the lateral wall of the pelvis, at the level of the anterior superior spine, and just medial to the lateral plane, where it can be palpated bimanually. Its position may be altered by other pelvic organs, especially the uterus, to which the ovary is attached by ligaments. When the uterus ascends into the abdomen during pregnancy, the ovary is pulled away from its original position, which is usually regained after parturition.

It resembles a large almond in shape. Its size varies with age and with the stage of the ovarian cycle. It is somewhat larger before than after pregnancy. After pregnancy, it is about two and a half to four centimeters long, and its average weight is seven grams. In old age it becomes further reduced in size.

When the ovary is in its usual position, its long axis is nearly vertical. It has medial and lateral surfaces, tubal and uterine ends, and mesovarian and free borders. It lies in a depression, the ovarian fossa, which is bounded in front by the obliterated umbilical artery and behind by the ureter and internal iliac artery.

The lateral surface is in contact with the parietal peritoneum lining the ovarian fossa and is separated by this peritoneum from the extraperitoneal tissue that covers the obturator vessels and nerve. Most of the medial surface is covered by the uterine tube; elsewhere this surface is related to the coils of the ileum.

The mesovarian or anterior border is attached to the mesovarium and faces the obliterated umbilical artery. The hilus of the ovary, through which blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and nerve pass, is located on this border. The free or posterior border is related to the uterine tube and, behind this, to the ureter.

The tubal or upper end is closely connected to the uterine tube; the suspensory ligament of the ovary is attached to this end. The uterine or lower end gives attachment to the ovarian ligament.

Home | Project Anatomy | Gross Anatomy | Topic Index | Chapter 36

Chapter 36: Female Reproductive System and the Contents of the Female Pelvis