In a lot of ways, it all starts in the ovaries. They are some of the smallest parts of the reproductive system, but they are also some of the most important. Let’s talk about these powerful factories and their role in your journey to becoming pregnant.
Facts About Ovaries
Did you know each of a woman’s two ovaries is only about 1.5 inches long? Despite their size, they serve two vital functions. First, the ovaries produce hormones related to fertility and sexual characteristics in women, including estrogen and progesterone. Second, the ovaries produce and release egg cells every month. Ovulation, of course, is the essential first step to becoming pregnant.
The ovaries connect to the uterus through the Fallopian tubes. These contain hair-like tissue called cilia that move the egg to the womb. Fertilization actually occurs while the egg is still in the Fallopian tube, close to the ovary.
Ovarian Health and Women’s Fertility
It should surprise no one that certain conditions of the ovaries can have an effect on a woman’s fertility ovaries are prone to developing cysts – fluid-filled sacs – but many of these are perfectly normal and can be signs of healthy fertility. But some cysts can indicate an underlying condition like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can be related to fertility problems.
Some women may have an ovary removed because of the presence or risk of certain types of cancer or for other reasons. However, a woman with a single ovary can still get pregnant. As long as a woman has a healthy ovary and a healthy Fallopian tube, the egg can make its journey normally. However, since a woman’s eggs are divided between both ovaries, having one removed will reduce the number of eggs left, and therefore the number of chances to become pregnant over the course of the woman’s life.
Keeping Ovaries Strong
So, what can you do to help keep your ovaries healthy? First, you can eat right. Foods rich in selenium, a mineral that activates antioxidant enzymes, can help lower your risk of ovarian cancer. Another crucial nutrient for good health is Vitamin A which helps the ovaries produce and release the eggs. Eat plenty of vitamin C, too: it activates immune cells to fight off cancer and also stimulates the follicles, where the eggs are released.
Second, if you experience symptoms like pelvic pain, especially during your period, or infrequent or irregular periods, consult with your doctor. These could be signs of ovarian problems like PCOS and endometriosis. Don’t be afraid to visit even if you want to find out if the pain you’re feeling is just the result of a really bad period – a good doctor will want to help you find the answers!
Ultimately, healthy ovaries are at the heart of healthy fertility in women. If you are trying to have a baby and are concerned about your ovarian health, talk to your doctor and ask what you can do to improve your chances of becoming pregnant.