01/10/2013 13:12 BST | Updated 01/10/2013 13:14 BST

Can Baby Born By Reactivating Ovaries Give Fertility Hope To Women With Early Menopause?

The birth of a baby using a new treatment to reactivate the ovaries of infertile women may give fertility hope to women with early menopause.

The technique, conducted by doctors in the US and Japan, removes an ovary (or a portion of an ovary) to be treated outside the body and then re-implanted near her fallopian tubes.

The woman is then treated with hormones to stimulate the growth of specialised structures in the ovaries called follicles in which eggs develop.


Dr. Kazuhiro Kawamura holds the newborn

Clinicians at the St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kawasaki, Japan, collected viable eggs from five women with a condition called primary ovarian insufficiency. One of these women has given birth to a healthy baby, and another is pregnant.

Twenty-seven women in Japan took part in the experimental study. The researchers were able to collect mature eggs for in vitro fertilisation from five of them.

Although it has not yet been tested in women with other causes of infertility, the researchers plan to investigate whether the technique can also help women with early menopause caused by cancer chemotherapy or radiation, and infertile women between the ages of 40 and 45.

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"Women with primary ovarian insufficiency enter menopause quite early in life, before they turn 40," said Aaron Hsueh, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gyneacology at Stanford and senior author of the study.

"Previous research has suggested that these women still have very tiny, primordial primary and secondary follicles, and that even though they are no longer having menstrual cycles they may still be treatable. Our results obtained with our clinical collaborators in Japan make us hopeful that this is a group of patients who can be helped."

The prospect may sound promising, but some experts are urging people not to get their hopes up.

"This is interesting but at this stage is only an exciting scientific development. There is a need for prospective randomised study before we can consider this as a treatment option," Professor Geeta Nargund, director of Create Health Fertility Clinic and lead consultant in Reproductive Medicine at St George's Hospital, London, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"It is very important that we are cautious, do not create hype and raise hopes of desperate women."