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The female gonads are called the ovaries and inside the ovaries oogenesis takes places. Oogenesis is the production of the female sex gametes called egg cells or ova (ovum for singular). During fetal development and before the birth of the female individual, all the oogonia (stem cells) differentiate into primary oocytes. Following birth, these primary oocytes remain in prophase I of meiosis until that individual reaches puberty and begins the menstrual cycle. Inside the ovaries, the primary oocyte does not exist by itself. Instead it is found inside a structure called an ovarian follicle. A follicle is a fluid-filled structure that contains the developing oocyte along with additional cells such as theca cells and granulosa cells that assist in the maturation process. During the menstrual cycle, the primary oocyte within the follicular structure undergoes meiosis I to produce the secondary oocyte. The follicle carrying this secondary oocyte is now called the secondary follicle and it eventually ruptures during ovulation and releases the secondary oocyte into the peritoneal cavity and from their it moves into the fallopian tube. This secondary oocyte is arrested in metaphase II of meiosis II and will only undergo the rest of meiosis if fertilization takes place. The remaining portion of what used to be the secondary follicle remains inside the ovaries and eventually becomes the corpus luteum. This functions as an endocrine gland during the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
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