The ovary is the female genital gland. Like the testis, it is a paired organ, but it is much smaller; its shape is that of a markedly fattened, irregular ellipsoid.
Its size varies not only according to age and sexual activity, but also exhibits marked individual variations; its greatest length is 2.5 to 5.0 cm., its breadth 1.5 to 3.0 cm., and its thickness 0.6 to 1.5 cm. The surface directed toward and largely covered by the tuba uterina (Fallopian tube) is known as the internal surface, while that applied to the wall of the pelvis is known as the external surface, both surfaces being connected by rounded borders. The markedly convex and broader free border is directed backward and somewhat inward; the border attached to the mesovarium is known as the mesovarian border, and is straighter and is directed forward and outward. It presents the site of entrance of the vessels and nerves, the hilus of the ovary, which has the form of a groove of varying depth. One extremity of the ovary which is markedly rounded, looks upward toward the infundibulum of the tuba uterina; it is termed the tubal extremity ; while the slightly pointed end, which looks downward and is attached to the uterus by the ovarian ligament, is known as the uterine extremity.
The surface of the ovary is either perfectly smooth, or else uneven and dimpled by scar-tissue according to the functional condition of the organ. It is quite hard and is whitish in the cadaver and reddish gray in the living subject.
The ovary is situated in the true pelvis in such a manner that its longitudinal diameter is almost vertical. The uterine extremity is below and is directed somewhat forward and inward, while the tubal extremity is above and is directed backward and outward; the external surface looks outward and somewhat downward and the internal surface looks inward and also slightly upward. The tubal extremity lies immediately below the terminal (iliopectineal) line (in relation with the inner margin of the psoas major and the external iliac vessels) not far from the sacro-iliac synchondrosis, in a more or less well developed depression in the lateral pelvic wall, the ovarian fossa. This is bounded in front and above by the internal iliac artery and behind by the ureter and uterine artery, and laterally and therefore in the bottom of the fossa are the obturator vessels and nerve. The position of the ovary is dependent to a limited degree upon the position of the uterus. Not infrequently the two ovaries are unsymmetrically placed, one being higher than the other, particularly in oblique positions of the uterus.
The fundus of the uterus is connected with the uterine extremity of the ovary by a musculo-fibrous cord, the ovarian ligament, which runs between the two layers of the broad ligament. The tubal extremity is attached to the infundibulum of the Fallopian tube by the fimbria ovarica (the infundibulo-ovarian ligament), and also has attached to it the suspensory ligament of the ovary (the in jundibulo pelvic ligament), a musculofibrous cord which descends from the false pelvis and contains the ovarian vessels and nerves.
The ovary is attached to the posterior lamina of the broad ligament, the epithelium of which becomes the germinal epithelium of the ovary, with which it is continuous at the hilus.
In the substance of the ovary a cortical and a medullary portion may be distinguished. The cortex is present over the entire surface except at the hilus, and attains its greatest thickness at the free border of the organ. It is characterized by the occurrence in it of vesicular structures, the Graafian follicles (folliculi oophori vesiculosi), or of the products of their metamorphosis, the corpora lutea. The ovarian medulla is not sharply marked off from the cortical portion and contains chiefly the larger vessels of the organ.
The ovary is supplied by two arteries which anastomosis with each other, the ovarian artery, derived from the aorta and passing to the organ in the suspensory ligament, and the ovarian branch of the uterine artery.
The veins of the ovary correspond to the arteries. The ovarian veins form the pampiniform plexus and pass either to the inferior vena cava or to the renal vein, and the remaining branches empty into the uterine vein. At the hilus of the ovary the veins form marked plexuses between the two layers of the mesovarium (bulbus ovarii).
The lymphatic vessels pass to the lumbar glands, and the nerves of the ovary are sympathetic filaments which follow the course of the ovarian artery.
From Human Anatomy (1909) by DR. Johannes Sobotta (1869-1945).