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"Big News" About New Eggs Is a Big Maybe

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on February 28, 2012

This week, a study published in the journal Nature Medicine is promising to scramble a long-held belief about women's eggs.

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have isolated egg-producing stem cells from human ovary tissue. Then, in laboratory conditions, the cells eventually resulted in new egg cells.

Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's the big health news du jour. (So I'm sure my inbox will fill with hopeful "Dr. Kristiansen, did you see the news?!")

For years now, we've all believed that females are born with the most eggs they'll ever have and that when the number dwindles down, natural infertility is the result. This new finding is exciting in terms of possibilities for related infertility treatments.

But good research takes time. Often, a very long time.

Do you recall when we started learning more than a decade ago that, contrary to long-held beliefs, human brains can generate new cells? It's very exciting to consider people with brain injury may be able to recover more fully! But now, many years of research later, experts in neuroscience are skeptical again.

There are still far more questions that must be addressed before this knowledge about "new" egg cells is usable by fertility specialists in helping women with age-related infertility or premature ovarian aging. In fact, I'd bet that the necessary details will come too late to institute a related plan for any woman who is currently considering fertility treatment. For those who want to delay conception but take advantage of their youthful fertility, the best options remain egg or embryo freezing via IVF. And my team at Houston Fertility Center will be happy to serve you with those tried-and-true techniques, today.

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