An ovary is both a reproductive organ and endocrine gland, for which most woman have two. They are situated on each side of the uterus and are attached to it by a fallopian tube. Ovary function is twofold, produce mature eggs and secrete female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Your monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation is controlled by ovary produced sex hormones and pituitary produced luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones. From puberty through menopause, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg about every 28 days (this duration can vary a couple of days longer or shorter among women). The egg travels down through the fallopian tube and into your uterus where pregnancy can occur if it’s fertilized by sperm. What causes only one ovary to release an egg monthly and not both is unknown.
An ovary does not manufacture eggs. At the time of birth, all the eggs a woman will ever have are already in there. Instead, ovary function is to hold and mature them.
Some women experience ovary pain when they ovulate. Ovulation caused pain usually is felt on one side of your lower abdomen because it arises from the ovary releasing an egg. The nature of this pain varies. Some describe their pain in ovaries as a mild twinge that lasts for just a few minutes. While others complain of severe discomfort that lasts for hours.
However, there are several other health conditions that can cause pain around your ovaries as well, for instance:
These causes for ovary pain may be chronic or come and go. The level of pain may be severe or hardly noticeable. And it could worsen when you do stuff like exercise or urinate. If the pain in your ovaries seems to match this description, then have it evaluated by your health care provider.
After ovary pain evaluation your doctor may recommend that one or both of your ovaries need to be removed. The name of the surgical procedure for ovary removal is called an oophorectomy. Even though there’s a surgery that only removes your ovaries, it’s more often done in concert with a hysterectomy.
Typically, an oophorectomy is performed for one of previously listed reasons for your pain. An additional one is to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer or breast cancer in certain women. And if both ovaries are removed, your body will go through menopause provided you haven’t already.