Prostaglandins are derivatives of fatty acids. Prostaglandins are released locally in response to tissue damage, causing smooth muscle contraction and either blood vessel constriction or dilation depending on the context.

In addition to their role as local hormones in the inflammation response, prostaglandins have many functions in the female reproductive system, having effects on both ovarian and uterine events. In the ovaries, prostaglandins play a roll in the rupture of the follicle leading to ovulation and formation of the corpus luteum. They also play a roll in the ultimate degeneration of the corpus luteum. In the uterus, prostaglandins are important in constricting blood vessels at the onset of menstruation, and in the case of fertilization, modifying endometrial blood vessels to accommodate pregnancy. Prostaglandins also play a roll in stimulating uterine contractions both for menstruation and parturition.