Key Points

• The ovaries have the dual function of producing gametes and hormones.

• Ova are produced in the ovarian follicles, which also produce estradiol and inhibin.

• After release of the ovum, the follicle is reorganized to form the corpus luteum, which secretes progesterone, estradiol, and the peptide hormones inhibin and relaxin.

• Estrogen and progesterone are derived from cholesterol. Their concentrations in blood vary widely and they circulate bound to plasma proteins. They are inactivated by the liver and excreted by the kidneys.

• The ovarian cycle lasts about 28 days and consists of a follicular phase (12-14 days), in which the follicle grows to maturity; ovulation (1 day); and a luteal phase (12-14 days), in which the corpus luteum functions for its programmed life-span.

• A sharp increase in secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and to a lesser extent follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) triggers ovulation.

Essential Medical Physiology, Third Edition

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