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Unfertilized Eggs
August 2000

Q. I am 42 years old and had a partial hysterectomy in 1998. I still go through ovulation, and experience soreness and tenderness in the lower stomach. I would like to know what happens to the eggs that my ovaries produce? Where do they go? I thought that when you menstruate, the unfertilized egg gets discharged. Now that I no longer menstruate, what happens to the eggs?

A. This is a great question. The answer is simple but amazing. The body absorbs the egg! Understanding how that can be requires a bit of a review of the menstrual cycle.

Each month or so an egg is released and travels down the Fallopian tube to the uterus. The uterine lining changes (in essence, it grows) in preparation for the egg. If the egg is fertilized, it nests in this lush uterine lining. If it is not fertilized, then the body gets rid of the lining through the menses. The unfertilized egg is lost at the same time. The key to the answer to your question is that the VAST majority of the menses is the lining of the uterus. The egg itself is so small most people can't see it without a microscope!

So, the egg that is released by one your ovaries falls into the abdominal cavity where it is absorbed. Much like the body absorbs the cells from an infection, only in this case the cell is so small the body doesn't have to work very hard at all. The symptoms you feel are from the ovary producing the egg, not the body absorbing it.

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