The ovaries and ovarian cancer
The ovaries are part of your reproductive system. This is in the lower part of your tummy, in the area between your hips (called the pelvis). Your reproductive system is made up of body parts like your vagina
and the organs involved in getting
pregnant and carrying a baby.
We have more info for young people about:
For more information about ovarian cancer in women of all ages, please see our general ovarian cancer section.
Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries, which are part of the reproductive system. This is in the lower part of your tummy (abdomen), in the area between your hips (called the pelvis). Your reproductive system is made up of your vagina and the organs involved in getting pregnant and having a baby.
Your reproductive systemBack to top
Your reproductive system is made up of:
- the vagina - the passage from the cervix to outside your body
- the cervix - the opening from the womb to the vagina
- the womb (also called uterus) - where a baby grows during pregnancy
- the fallopian tubes - which connect your ovaries to the womb
- the ovaries - which store all your eggs and release one every month after puberty.
Facts about your ovariesBack to top
- You have two ovaries - one on each side of your womb. They’re about 4cm long.
- At puberty your ovaries start making hormones called oestrogen and progesterone. These cause your breasts to grow and your periods to start.
- Every month after puberty, your ovaries release an egg, which travels down the fallopian tubes to the womb. The womb’s lining gets thicker, ready for an egg to be fertilised by a man’s sperm. If this doesn’t happen, the womb’s lining comes out of your vagina as blood - this is a period.
- When a woman is about 50 her periods stop, because her ovaries have run out of eggs so they stop making hormones. This is called the menopause.
Types of ovarian cancerBack to top
There are 3 types of ovarian cancer: epithelial tumours, germ cell tumours and stromal cell tumours.
Teenagers are mostly affected by the germ cell tumour type. You may hear your type of germ cell tumour being called:
- yolk sac tumour.
Germ cell tumours of the ovary are rare. They start in the egg-producing cells of the ovary. Treatment will usually cure germ cell tumours.
Your specialist will explain more about the type of germ cell tumour that you have. If you have a type of ovarian cancer or germ cell tumour that's not listed here, you can talk to one of our cancer support specialists to find out more.