Folliculogenesis Medically Reviewed

Last Updated: April 15, 2020

Definition - What does Folliculogenesis mean?

Folliculogenesis is the maturation of ovarian follicles. Follicles contain a woman's eggs within her ovaries. They must go through certain stages of maturation before releasing an egg during ovulation.

Some treatments for infertility involve stimulating folliculogenesis within the ovaries.

FertilitySmarts explains Folliculogenesis

An ovarian follicle goes through several stages of development before it is ready to be ovulated. These stages of follicular development are:

  1. Primordial (resting)
  2. Primary
  3. Secondary (pre-antral)
  4. Tertiary (antral)
  5. Pre-ovulatory (Graafian)

Only some of the follicles within a woman's ovaries will go through all of these phases and be released during ovulation. However, the majority of follicles will undergo atresia (degeneration) at some point in this process. It is unknown exactly why this happens but thought to be the body's way of selecting the strongest follicles.

Folliculogenesis is initiated and controlled by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In women, this process is usually very long. A follicle will spend about 1 year maturing before the egg within it can be ovulated.

The ovaries can be stimulated to mature multiple follicles and suppress negative feedback systems using medications. This is called ovarian stimulation and may be performed as a part of the treatment for infertility.

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