Do all women have two ovaries?

Last updated on October 21, 2020


The doctors tell me I only have one ovary. I have a child already. Do all women have two ovaries or can you be born with just one and still have a child?


In general, women are born with two ovaries, but due to genetic defects, it is possible to be born with only one ovary. A woman can also lose an ovary because of disease, cancer, damage from a cyst.

Nothing prevents a woman with only one ovary from having children. In the normal operation of the body, one ovary releases one egg per month. With two ovaries, they alternate every other month. If that pattern remained with only one ovary, it would simply mean that it might take up to twice as long to become pregnant as a woman who has two ovaries.

However, becoming pregnant is more of a probability question. A woman can become pregnant on the very first time of having sex, or after many times. The average for a healthy husband and wife is 85 couples out of 100 will conceive a child in one year of regularly having sex. If we simply halve that value, it would mean you would have a 43 out of 100 chance of having a child in one year of trying, which is still fairly good odds.

But the human body is fairly resilient. It is possible that because the other ovary is missing that your remaining ovary is taking up some or all of the slack. Thus, you might not see any impact on your ability to have a child versus another woman who has two ovaries.