Understanding the Ovarian Cycle

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What is the main regulator of the ovarian cycle?

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

Which hormone stimulates the rupture of a mature ovary follicle during ovulation?

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

What is the main function of granulosa cells in the ovarian cycle?

Maturation of the oocyte

Which gland releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to initiate the ovarian cycle?


What leads to the release of an oocyte during ovulation?

Rupture of a mature ovary follicle

What is the primary function of the corpus luteum?

Support endometrial preparation for implantation

During which phase does the corpus luteum form on the ovary?

Luteal phase

What hormone is responsible for preparing the endometrium for embryo implantation?


What leads to declining levels of progesterone and estrogen in the ovarian cycle?

Corpus luteum atrophy

Study Notes

Understanding the Ovarian Cycle


The ovarian cycle is a critical aspect of human reproduction, involving various hormonal events that lead to ovulation and preparation for potential pregnancy. This process is tightly regulated and synchronized through complex interactions between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries.

Regulation of the Ovarian Cycle

The ovarian cycle is regulated primarily via the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis. The hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the anterior pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones regulate different aspects of the ovarian cycle.

Phases of the Ovarian Cycle

The ovarian cycle consists of three main phases: the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Each phase is characterized by specific hormonal fluctuations and physiological changes.

Follicular Phase

During the follicular phase, the follicle develops in response to FSH. As FSH and LH levels rise, they stimulate ovulation, which involves the rupture of a mature ovary follicle and the subsequent release of an oocyte, also called an ovum or egg, into the fallopian tube.

Granulosa Cells

Granulosa cells are essential components of the follicle and play crucial roles in the maturation process of an oocyte within its follicle. They produce hormones and growth factors that support the developing oocyte and help maintain the follicle throughout this phase.


Ovulation marks the transition from the follicular phase to the luteal phase. During ovulation, a mature ovary follicle ruptures and discharges an ovum into the fallopian tube.

Luteal Phase

In the luteal phase, the corpus luteum forms on the ovary and secretes hormones, notably progesterone. Progesterone prepares the endometrium for implantation of an embryo. If implantation occurs, the corpus luteum is maintained; otherwise, it degenerates, leading to menstruation.

Corpus Luteum Functions

The primary function of the corpus luteum is to secrete progesterone, which supports the endometrial preparation for implantation. Additionally, the corpus luteum contributes to the production of fertile cervical mucus, further facilitating the transport of sperm towards the ovum.

Hormonal Changes

Progesterone, produced by the corpus luteum, suppresses the action of FSH and LH, causing the corpus luteum to gradually atrophy. The death of the corpus luteum leads to declining levels of progesterone and estrogen, subsequently increasing FSH levels, promoting the recruitment of new follicles for the next cycle.


The ovarian cycle is a continuous process of hormonal regulation and physiological changes that enable reproduction in humans. Its successful execution relies heavily on the complex interplay of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries.

Explore the intricacies of the ovarian cycle, from the regulation by the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis to the phases like follicular phase, ovulation, and luteal phase. Learn about the functions of granulosa cells and the corpus luteum in this essential reproductive process.

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