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16.10: The Ovaries

The ovaries, located in the lower abdomen, produce two important sex hormones.

1. The follicle cells, under the influence of FSH (see the pituitary gland above), produce oestrogen, which stimulates the development of female sexual characteristics - the mammary glands, generally smaller build of female animals etc. It also stimulates the thickening of the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy (see chapter 13).
2. Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, the endocrine gland that develops in the empty follicle following ovulation (see chapter 13). It promotes the further preparation of the uterine lining for pregnancy and prevents the uterus contracting until the baby is born.

Contributors

Ruth Lawson (Otago Polytechnic; Dunedin, New Zealand)