A new study by researchers from Stanford University gives hope to women who want to carry their own children—without the need for an egg donor. About 6.7 million American women suffer from infertility, with about 670,000 women struggling to get pregnant due to problems with their eggs.
Time magazine reports: "Most of these women, whose ovaries don't produce the regular amounts of estrogen needed to nurture and develop healthy eggs every month, will enter menopause before they turn 40."
But the researchers at SU have developed a technique that they believe can boost women's ability to produce healthy, mature eggs.
"Using a process called in vitro activation (IVA), the scientists take an ovary, or piece of ovarian tissue, and treat it outside the body with proteins and other factors that normally prompt immature follicles to mature into eggs. The recharged tissue is then reimplanted into the women's ovaries."
In the small study of 27 volunteers, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, five women were able to produce viable eggs. One is pregnant, one has given birth to a healthy baby and two women are waiting for an embryo transfer.
While it's not an overwhelming success just yet, doctors are optimistic that this stimulation of follicles that failed to develop properly will help women who previously had to rely on egg donors to get pregnant. It may also be a solution for those who have egg loss due to chemotherapy.
To translate all of that scientific mumbo-jumbo, it means this new technique could open up the doors for many women struggling with infertility to finally get pregnant—which is an awesome, awesome thing!
Image of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.