The ovaries

This section is for teenagers and young adults. It is about a type of cancer called ovarian cancer.

We also have more general information about ovarian cancer written for all age groups.

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 (pelvis). Your reproductive system is made up of your vagina and the organs involved in getting pregnant and having a baby

 The ovaries and reproductive system
The ovaries and reproductive system

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Your reproductive system

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 (uterus) - where a baby grows if you are pregnant
  • the fallopian tubes - which connect your ovaries to the womb
  • the ovaries - which store your eggs and release one every month.

Facts about ovaries

You have two ovaries, one on each side of your womb. They are about 4cm long.

Puberty begins around the age of 11. This is when your body begins to change from a child into an adult. At this time, your ovaries start making hormones called oestrogen and progesterone. These make your breasts grow and your periods start.

Every month after puberty, your ovaries release an egg. The egg travels down the fallopian tubes to the womb. At the same time, the womb’s lining gets thicker, ready for an egg to be fertilised by a man’s sperm. If this does not happen, the womb’s lining comes out of your vagina as blood (this is called a period).

When a woman is about 50 years old, her periods stop. This is because her ovaries have run out of eggs, so they stop making hormones. This is called the menopause.

Back to Ovarian cancer

Having tests

Your GP may arrange for you to have tests to see whether you have ovarian cancer.

Life after treatment

Find out what will happen when you finish treatment for ovarian cancer, and how you can cope with any effects.