A 30-year-old woman in Japan who was thought to be infertile due to a condition known as primary ovarian insuffciency has given birth to a healthy baby boy thanks to an experimental fertility treatment that involved removing an ovary and treating it to produce follicles using ovarian fragmentation.* Eggs collected from her ovary were fertilized with her husband’s sperm before the embryos were implanted into her body, and she was able to give birth after 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Often called pre-mature menopause, ovarian insufficiency occurs in approximately 1% of women of child-producing age. Although the cause is unknown, some researchers believe that it may be due to insufficient estrogen or follicle damage.
“While women with this condition may spontaneously become pregnant, egg donation is usually the only way for them to have a child, according to Dr. Kazuhiro Kawamura of the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan, who performed the procedure.
Kawamura went on to state that the treatment will not work in all women with primary ovarian insufficiency.]
“Only about 48% of the 27 women participating a joint St.Marianna and Stanford University in CA study were candidates for the treatment, and just five out of 13 women who received the therapy produced viable eggs. Just two became pregnant (one has yet to give birth).”
Although more work is needed, the researchers said they hope the technique could help women with primary ovarian insufficiency and other types of early menopause, such as menopause caused by cancer treatment in the not too distant future.
To learn more, readers can view the full study report in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
*Ovarian fragmentation, involves cutting the ovary into pieces, then transplanting the. small pieces near the fallopian tubes. Women also need to take drugs to help stimulate the follicles.