Sunday, June 15, 2008


(Egg emerging from follicle on ovary -- click on image to enlarge)

During the preparation for a partial hysterectomy on a 45-year-old woman, extremely rare images of ovulation -- the release of an egg by the ovary -- were captured by Jacques Donnez at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Brussels, Belgium. The article at New Scientist states:

"The release of an egg was considered a sudden, explosive event, but his pictures, to be published in Fertility and Sterility, show it taking place over a period of at least 15 minutes. Shortly before the egg is released, enzymes break down the tissue in the mature follicle, a fluid-filled sac on the surface of the ovary that contains the egg. This prompts the formation of a reddish protrusion, and after a while a hole appears, from which the egg emerges, surrounded by support cells. It then enters a Fallopian tube, which carries it to the uterus."

Several more steps have to occur, of course, before this is anything more than raw material for a potential human life: Successful journey to the uterus, acceptance of sperm by the egg, blastocyte implantation in the wall of the uterus, and viable commencement of division and growth by the blastocyte. Still, this is quite a symbolic sight, especially for me whose egg extrusion has more often gone wrong than right over the decades.

(Hat tip to Weekly Feminist Reader at Feministing for the story link.)

1 comment:

Blue said...

I've always been a fan of ovulation. Now, I'm not so sure . . .