The ovaries are an important part of the female reproductive system. The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus.1 They produce the hormones, including estrogen, that trigger menstruation. They also release at least one egg each month for possible fertilization.
They play an important role in human procreation and women must be aware of its functions, medical conditions associated with it and how it affects the rest of their body. Here are five facts about the ovaries that every woman must know.
1. Ovaries Can Be Affected By Stress
Just like the other parts of our body, even the ovaries can be affected by various types of environmental stress. These may include intake of noxious chemicals either intentionally in the form of therapeutic and recreational drugs, or unknowingly as food residues or air pollutants.2 Stress
Often, the consequences may be temporary and reversible when the source of the “stress” is removed. Even changes to your lifestyle or drastic weight loss can lead to severe stress, which may result in the ovaries stopping the release of the eggs altogether. In fact, it’s the body’s way of preventing pregnancy during times of stress.
2. Birth Control Pills Can Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk
Although many side-effects of the birth control pills are often reported, these pills play a crucial role in reducing the risk of ovarian cancer. The estrogen and progesterone versions of birth control pills can lower your risk of ovarian cancer. The benefit begins within 3-6 months after starting the pill.
The American Cancer Society affirms that the longer you take the pill, the lower your risk becomes.3 The pill is especially beneficial for women who are carriers of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which increases your risk for ovarian cancer.
3. Ovaries Produce Many Hormones
One of the primary roles of the ovaries is to secrete estrogen and progesterone, which are the two hormones that are vital for the development of your body during puberty. The ovaries also prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the ovaries don’t produce these hormones in ample quantities, it reduces your chances of getting pregnant and may also lead to fertility problems.
The ovaries are also responsible for producing another hormone called testosterone, which plays a key role in enhancing your sex drive. Small quantities of testosterone are released into your bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands.
4. Ovaries May Cause Acne
Ovaries are also responsible for maintaining your hormonal balance. Hormone imbalance can cause many physical effects including an increase in acne. If your body produces too much testosterone, it may cause irregular or absent menstrual periods. It may also lead to more body hair than the average woman. In some women with high testosterone levels, it may also cause frontal balding.
Certain conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome alter the hormone balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Besides acne, it may result in weight fluctuations and hair growth may be seen under the chin or other areas where men usually have body hair.
5. Ovaries May Increase Or Decrease In Size
From the time you attain puberty till you hit menopause, the ovaries constantly change their size. The ovaries may undergo many changes over the course of your menstrual cycle and the course of your lifetime. Along with the production of
However, the changes that the ovaries undergo begin to reduce as you grow older and reach menopause, after which they begin to shrink in size. Ovarian volume differs according to age in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.4
|↑1||Ovaries. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Armstrong, David T. “Environmental stress and ovarian function.” Biology of reproduction 34, no. 1 (1986): 29-39.|
|↑4||Giacobbe, Marcelo, Aarão Mendes Pinto-Neto, Lucia Helena Simões Costa-Paiva, and Edson Zangiacomi Martinez. “Ovarian volume, age, and menopausal status.” Menopause 11, no. 2 (2004): 180-185.|