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What are the roles of ovaries?

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Quick Answer

The ovaries maintain the overall health of the female reproductive system. Ovaries act as endocrine glands by secreting two hormones, called estrogen and progesterone, which facilitate normal reproductive functions. Ovaries produce egg cells too, which classifies them as ova-producing organs.

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Full Answer

The ovaries are female reproductive organs that produce and secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and help to maintain the overall health of the female reproductive system according to the University of Michigan Health Systems. Each female has two ovaries in her body. These organs are classified as ova-producing organs, meaning that they produce egg cells. Those cells, in turn, help to monitor the health of the reproductive system. Ovaries function as reproductive organs and are also considered to be endocrine glands because they secrete the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone work with a third hormone, called estradiol, to promote the development and growth of female sex characteristics during puberty; this trio also ensures fertility and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. Estrogen plays an important role in regulating development of female sex organs and distributes fat in the hips, legs and breasts; when secretion of estrogen is impaired or the ovaries do not produce enough of it, reproductive problems arise. Ovaries also initiate the menstrual cycle each month by producing a single egg in a process called ovulation. Upon release of the egg, the hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland to release certain luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, which enable normal reproductive functions, including menstrual cycle regulation.

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