Definition - What does Graafian Follicle mean?
A Graafian follicle is a mature ovarian follicle ready to rupture and release its egg. Ovarian follicles progress through distinct stages of maturation to reach this point. During each menstrual cycle a certain number of primordial follicles that were present in the ovaries at birth progress to become primary follicles. A subset of these primary follicles goes on to become secondary follicles, then tertiary follicles, and finally one of the tertiary follicles becomes dominant. This dominant follicle develops into a Graafian follicle and ovulation occurs.
FertilitySmarts explains Graafian Follicle
For each menstrual cycle, usually only one Graafian follicle will form so only one egg will be released. Additional partially developed follicles degenerate. Hormone treatments and medications such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and clomiphene citrate can cause these additional follicles to continue development so that multiple Graafian follicles are formed and release their eggs in one month in a process known as superovulation. This procedure is used for egg retrieval when many eggs are needed for a fertility procedure such as egg donation or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The presence of Graafian follicles can be confirmed by an ultrasound scan.
Stages of Ovarian Follicle Development:
Primordial follicle > primary follicle > secondary follicle > Graafian follicle (preovulatory follicle)