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Observing Human Ovulation

Egg emerging from the follicle on the ovary. Credit: Jacques Donnez

Today I saw some amazing photos that capture the moment of human ovulation. One can clearly see the egg emerging from a follicle on the ovary. Fertile women release one or more eggs each month.

The photos were taken in 2008 when Dr. Jacques Donnez was performing a hysterectomy on a 45 year old woman and saw that ovulation was occurring. The ovulation he witnessed took about 15 minutes.

By the way, it was the first time human ovulation was caught on camera.

Credit: Jacques Donnez

From June 11, 2008 BBC News: Ovulation moment caught on camera

A human egg has been filmed in close-up emerging from the ovary for the first time, captured by chance during a routine operation. 

Fertile women release one or more eggs every month, but until now, only animal ovulation has been recorded in detail.

Gynaecologist Dr Jacques Donnez spotted it in progress during a hysterectomy.

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 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.

They belonged to a 45-year-old Belgian woman, and Dr Donnez, from the Catholic University of Louvain, told New Scientist that the pictures would help scientists understand the mechanisms involved.

He said that some theories had suggested an "explosive" release for the egg, but the ovulation he witnessed took 15 minutes to complete.

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