The female gonads are the paired ovaries (singular, ovary) that are held by ligaments in the pelvic cavity on either side of the uterus (Fig. 15-1). It is within the ovaries that the female gametes, the eggs or ova (singular, ovum), develop. Every month several ova ripen, each within a cluster of cells called a graafian follicle. At the time of ovulation, usually only one ovum is released from the ovary and the remainder of the ripening ova degenerate. The follicle remains behind and continues to function for about 2 weeks if there is no fertilization of the ovum and for about 2 months if the ovum is fertilized.
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