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Sagittal section through the pelvis of a newly born female child. (Label for round ligament of uterus visible at upper right.)
PrecursorIntermediate mesoderm
Gives rise toGubernaculum testis (males), suspensory ligament of ovary, round ligament of uterus, ovarian ligament (females)
Anatomical terminology

The paired gubernacula (from Ancient Greek κυβερνάω = pilot, steer), also called the caudal genital ligament, are embryonic structures which begin as undifferentiated mesenchyme attaching to the caudal end of the gonads (testicles in males and ovaries in females).


The gubernaculum is present only during the development of the reproductive system. It is later replaced by distinct vestiges in males and females. The gubernaculum arises in the upper abdomen from the lower end of the gonadal ridge and helps guide the testis in its descent to the inguinal region.




As the scrotum and labia majora form in males and females respectively, the gubernaculum aids in the descent of the gonads (both testes and ovaries).[3]

The testes descend to a greater degree than the ovaries and ultimately pass through the inguinal canal into the scrotum.[3] The mechanism of this movement is still debated.[3]


The gubernaculum was first described by John Hunter in 1762.[3] The term comes from Ancient Greek meaning to steer, pilot or the rudder or helm.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Nef and Parada, Nat Genet 1999, 22, 295-299
  2. ^ Adham et al., Mol Endocrinol 2002, 16, 244-252
  3. ^ a b c d e Burgu, Berk; Baker, Linda A.; Docimo, Steven G. (2010-01-01), Gearhart, John P.; Rink, Richard C.; Mouriquand, Pierre D. E. (eds.), "CHAPTER 43 - CRYPTORCHIDISM", Pediatric Urology (Second Edition), Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, pp. 563–576, ISBN 978-1-4160-3204-5, retrieved 2021-02-03