Human Ovulation Moment Caught on Camera
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Fertile women release one or more eggs every month, but until now, only animal ovulation has been recorded in detail. Now, gynaecologist Dr Jacques Donnez spotted the release of a human egg in progress, during a routine hysterectomy. He could film the process in close-up, when the egg was emerging from the ovary. Human eggs are produced by follicles, fluid-filled sacs on the side of the ovary, which, around the time of ovulation, produce a reddish protrusion seen in the pictures. The egg comes from the end of this, surrounded by a jelly-like substance containing supportive cells. The egg itself is only the size of a full-stop, and the whole ovary, which contains many immature eggs, just a couple of inches long. Dr Donnez, from the Catholic University of Louvain, told New Scientist that the pictures would help scientists understand the mechanisms involved in ovulation. He said that some theories had suggested an "explosive" release for the egg, but the ovulation he witnessed took 15 minutes to complete, so the event was progressive.
These images are the first time the event of ovulation in humans has been captured in clear detail. The yellow blob is a protruding egg cell, surrounded by supportive cumulus cells (at the black arrow). The reddish part is the follicle (S), and the pale pink tissue is part of the ovary (F).
Ovulation takes place on the surface of the ovarian tissue.
The egg, surrounded by supportive cumulus cells, is shown emerging from the follicle on the ovary.
After the release from the follicle, the egg travels down the Fallopian tube where it can be fertilised.
Credit: The above pictures was kindly provided by Prof. Jacques Donnez, at Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, and Eric Steinmehl, managing editor at “Fertility and Sterility” and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama.
Laparoscopic observation of spontaneous human ovulation
Jean-Christophe Lousse, M.D., Jacques Donnez, M.D., Ph.D.
Fertility and Sterility, published online 28 April 2008, doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2007.12.049
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