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Corpus luteum

Recommended video: Uterus and ovaries [24:39]
Structure of the vagina, uterus, uterine tubes and ovaries.

Held within the female ovaries are numerous ovarian follicles. Each follicle contains an immature egg, an oocyte. During a menstrual cycle, one oocyte matures and is released from the ovarian follicle into the uterine tubes during ovulation. The remaining ruptured follicle stays within the ovary as a hormone producing glandular structure, the corpus luteum.

The transformation of the ruptured follicle into the corpus luteum occurs under the influence of luteinizing hormone (LH). The presence of LH stimulates the corpus luteum to release progesterone. If fertilization does not occur, the level of LH in the blood slowly falls and the corpus luteum will degenerate within 10 to 14 days. If the oocyte is fertilized then the corpus luteum remains. It produces progesterone, estrogen and relaxin, acting to prepare the uterus, in particular the endometrium, to support the developing embryo. The corpus luteum persists until the placenta becomes a fully developed endocrine organ, at which point it is no longer needed and slowly atrophies into fibrous scar tissue (corpus albicans). This degeneration of the corpus luteum into a corpus albicans occurs at around 2 months of pregnancy.

Terminology English: Corpus luteum
Latin: Corpus luteum
Definition Hormone producing glandular structure formed from the ruptured ovarian follicle after ovulation
Function Acts to maintain early pregnancy by secreting progesterone

Learn more about the anatomy of the female reproductive system with these study units:

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