There are two ovaries, one on each side, in the lower portion of the abdomen.
The ovary provides the female egg cell which passes each month down the Fallopian tube to the uterus. The ovary also develops glandular substances important for establishing the female body structure and the functions peculiar to women.
The ovary may become twisted on the tissues which support it, which will affect its blood supply and bring on pain and swelling. Blocking of the ovarian ducts may cause the formation of ovarian cysts as large collections of fluid. Pain may arise, and it will become necessary to open the abdomen and to get rid of such cysts.
Ovaries may become infected by any of the germs that are carried in the blood or that pass through the ovary by extension from other organs and tissues. Infections are responsible for more than 90 per cent of disturbances of the ovary. If pus forms in the Fallopian tubes, it may extend over to the ovary. Pain, swelling, high fever and similar symptoms demand attention. Again, adequate use of antibiotic drugs in many instances brings about complete relief.
Tumors of all kinds can affect the ovary, including cancer.
The doctor cannot determine from any examination that he can carry on from the outside of the body the exact nature of such tumors. In the examination of the ovary he may insert a finger into the rectum; he may press on the abdomen from the outside; he may take X-ray pictures; in cases of extreme doubt, when diagnosis is important, the abdomen may be opened in an exploratory operation, to find out exactly what is wrong.