The Ovulation Process Begins
In order to begin the ovulation process, your ovaries begin producing less estrogen. This drop in estrogen signals your brain to release a special hormone, called gonadatropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The release of GnRH, in turn, triggers the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which actually gets your eggs maturing. So, without your ovaries' hormone production, you wouldn't have any eggs to release.
Secondary Sex Characteristics and Your OvariesYour ovaries aren't just responsible for making sure your eggs are released on a monthly basis. You ovaries also help to develop your secondary sex characteristics, including:
- body hair
- body fat in buttocks, thighs, waist
The hormones in your ovaries, including estrogen and progesterone, actually contribute to your breast size and shape, the tone of your voice, and other things that make you a woman. If you didn't have enough of these hormones, or if you didn
't have your ovaries, some of these sex characteristics would begin to fade.
Ovaries and Age
Your ovaries are just like the rest of your body - they will eventually age. The size of the ovary begins to decline as you grow older and their function will also begin to change. The eggs inside your ovaries will become older and more difficult to fertilize. This is because egg quality declines as you age. You will also have fewer eggs available in your ovarian store.
As you near menopause, your ovaries will also begin to produce less and less of the female sex hormones. This will eventually cause you to stop ovulating, and you will be unable to have any more children.
Ovarian HealthJust like any part of your body, your ovaries are susceptible to disease and disorders. These illnesses can often impair the production and hormones and inhibit ovulation, leading to infertility. Ovary problems to watch out for include:
- ovarian cysts
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- ovarian cancer
Keeping Your Ovaries HealthyIt is important to take care of your ovaries in order to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some tips on what you can do to stay on top of your ovarian health:
- Have a pelvic exam every year. Your doctor can make sure that you do not have any abnormal growths or pain in your ovaries during an exam. This can help to catch any disease in its early stages.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has been linked to all types of cancer, including ovarian cancer.
- Eat healthy. Avoid highly processed foods whenever possible and focus on eating lots of fruits and vegetables. This will keep your system healthy and more able to fight off disease.
- Learn about ovarian diseases. Know the signs and symptoms of ovarian illness so that you can report it to your health care provider right away.
- Find out about your family history. Ovarian cancer tends to run in families, so ask relatives on both your mother and father's side if they have had it.