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The ovaries are two small glands, located on either side of a woman's uterus, that are part of the female reproductive system. The ovaries produce female sex hormones and store and release eggs (ova), which can develop into embryos if fertilized by a male's sperm.
The female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) help control the menstrual cycle, breast development, and other functions. Approximately once a month, about 2 weeks before a woman's next period is due, one of her ovaries releases an egg (ovulation).
Last Revised: March 20, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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