BO VEISLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BO VEISLAND / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ovarian and uterine cycles of the menstrual cycle, artwork. Once sexual maturity is reached up to 20 oocytes (upper left) start developing into eggs (ovums) every menstrual cycle. Only one will reach full maturity as a Graafian follicle (white and pink) and release its egg at ovulation (centre). The follicle then develops into a corpus luteum (yellow), which secretes progesterone to build up the endometrium, the bloody lining of the uterus (bottom), ready for a fertilised egg. If there is no fertilised egg after 12 days it stops secreting and degenerates into a corpus albicans. Without progesterone the endometrium sloughs off; this is menstruation. The cycle can now start again.
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