University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
Recommended by:
Society of Biology
PEEP for Physics & Ethics at GCSE

The Ovum, egg or egg cell

An ovum ( plural: ova ) is the female gamete. It is the largest single cell in the body. During the development of a female foetus, all the ova that she will ever have in her life are formed. Stem cells in the ovaries differentiate and undergo the first stages of meiosis. The genetic material is reduced by half, but the final cell division remains incomplete. The ova may remain suspended at this stage of development for up to fifty years, but even before she is born, many of these immature ova will have become redundant. After she has reached puberty each month, under the influence of Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and oestrogen, a single ovum matures in one of the woman’s ovaries within a specialised structure call a Graafian follicle. Meiosis is completed and the ovum is released into the Fallopian tube in a process called ovulation.

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Using the diagram above, print off and label the visible structures on the photomicrograph of a human egg below. Note that the cumulus cells have been removed.


Next: The sperm cell

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NOT RATED amanda davies 16-05-08 10:29
i love the layout and the incorporation of quite high level knowledge that is easily accessible to all who want to know more
NOT RATED Rebecca Smith 10-08-08 04:05
Thanx 4 the helped me to do my home work of making a cell. great infomation!!!!!
katie 26-10-08 16:35
please can you put on a picture of a coloured egg cell because i am doing a project and have got a week to do it aswell as all my other the project is to make a 3D model of an egg cell thankyou.
NOT RATED BEEP Team 27-10-08 11:18
Hi Katie,
We wish we could add huge numbers of pictures, but we only have access to those that are published for free. So sadly we can't add them to order.
Lucy H 04-03-09 17:37
i think you should add a description of an egg cell because i have been searching the internet for a LONG time and i can't find a description. (i have to do it for homework).
Kitty 21-09-10 16:43
Incorrect. A woman is not born with a finite number of ova, she is born with a finite number of oocytes, immature ova which may later develop into ova.
Olivia Evans 21-10-12 15:40
hi beep team can you answer a few questions for me?
'Where do you get your info from?
'How can you help me more?
'can you tell me about more about the cell for my sience homework ?
'And would you have a job for me in the future?
Best Regards
Olivia Evans.

BEEP Team answers:
Hi Olivia,
All of our articles have been written by either specialist teachers, or the BEEP team in consultation with experts. It is general information to help kick off debate about the moral and ethical implications of science and its uses. How you use it is down to you. Hope its fun.

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