Stem Cells Could Make Women Fertile Forever

Amy Kuras

ovary shirtEveryone knows that somewhere north of 40, a woman's fertility begins to decline and eventually goes away. It's an unfair fact of life. But it's especially unfair when this decline in fertility strikes a woman in her 30s or even 20s, when she thought she had a great deal of time left to build her family.

When that happens, it's called premature ovarian failure, and affects between 250,000 and 1 million women in the United States. In most cases, women who suffer from premature ovarian failure can't get pregnant on their own and need to use donor eggs to become pregnant.

Now, a new treatment using a type of embryonic stem cells is showing promise in restoring once failed ovaries to full function.

The catch is that the treatment has been very successful -- in rats. There are questions about whether the eggs from ovaries injected with stem cells could actually produce babies, and if they can, whether those babies would be genetically related to the mother or the stem cell donor.

Still, the progress sounds wonderful, right? For women who have experienced premature ovarian failure, it could be a miracle if it works in humans as well as it does in rats. But think about this: This treatment could mean that women who are well past natural menopause can reawaken their ovaries and have babies indefinitely, just like men do.

Would making a woman fertile forever be a good idea?

image via Foxtongue/Flickr

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