What Are Ovaries? - Definition, Functions & Size

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  • 0:00 Introduction to the Ovaries
  • 1:00 Functions of the Ovaries
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Ovaries are the female gonads, and they play a major role in the female aspect of reproduction. This lesson discusses the functions of the ovaries and their basic characteristics.

Introductions to the Ovaries

The human female reproductive system is designed to facilitate the growth and development of a child prior to birth. Each individual component of this system is responsible for a particular set of functions related to child-bearing. One important part of the female reproductive system is the ovary. This lesson discusses the function and characteristics of the ovaries in the female reproductive system.

The ovaries are the female gonads, or sex cell-producing organs, which produce eggs, or ova. In men, the testicles are the gonads, and they produce sperm. Generally, the female body will have two ovaries, though the female body can survive with one or no ovaries.

The ovaries are roughly four cubic centimeters in size, which is about the size of a walnut. They are located at the ends of the uterine tubes, which are connection tubes that attach to the uterus. In the female body, the ovaries, and other reproductive organs, are located in the abdominopelvic cavity.

Functions of the Ovaries

Though the ovaries are fairly small, they are very important in the overall reproductive functions of the female body. Many of the functions are either directly controlled or indirectly influenced by the ovaries. Let's look at a few of these functions.

First, there is oogenesis, which is the process by which the female body produces eggs. This process occurs prior to birth, and each female child is born with all of the eggs that she will need for her lifetime. Oogenesis is a form of meiosis, or sex cell reproduction. Each egg will have 23 chromosomes, which is one-half of the total number needed for humans to develop properly. Likewise, sperm cells have 23 chromosomes, and when an egg and sperm unite, the full chromosome number is restored.

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