Stem Cells Give Restored Life to Ovaries

Stem cell researcher working in laboratory

Stem Cells Give Restored Life to Ovaries

Stem cell therapy is attracting attention in the field of regenerative medicine and is advancing rapidly. Many recent studies look at developing stem cell therapies to enhance ovarian function.

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a condition in which the ovaries stop producing sex hormones and releasing eggs regularly or even at all — greatly diminishing fertility. Patients with POI experience this ovarian dysfunction and irregular or absent menstrual periods long before the normal age of menopause.

Individuals with POI present an unusually low number of follicles in their ovaries. Research has found that stem cells could be used to enhance ovarian function in women with POI. A recent study examined over 60 POI patients below the age of 35 who had an intention to get pregnant — and the results indicated injecting ovaries with stem cells could be a safe treatment for POI.

What is Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)?

Premature ovarian insufficiency is a refractory disease in which a woman’s ovaries lose their normal function at an earlier than expected age. Approximately 1 percent of all women will experience POI. As a direct result of this condition, women may experience female infertility.

There are many causes of POI including autoimmune and genetic conditions, as well as circumstances in which a woman may have been exposed to such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery on the ovaries, and certain infectious agents. However, nearly 90 percent of cases the actual cause of POI remains unknown.

Promising Results from Study

In the recent study, patients treated with stem cells displayed improved ovarian function, seen in the increased number of follicles at different stages of development. The positive effect of the stem cells was especially evident and clear when the researchers recognized participants receiving an injection in only one of the ovaries developed follicles in that ovary — but not in the other one.

Astonishingly, two patients started menstruating again after having had missing or irregular periods for at least a year and a half. In addition, one of them developed several follicles in both ovaries long after the treatment, further indicating that the stem cells completely restored ovarian function for that specific participant. Moreover, three of eight patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) were able to conceive, in addition to a patient who was able to naturally conceive with her partner.

Most importantly, the results indicated that transplantation of umbilical cord derived MSCs (UCMSCs) rescued the ovarian function of POI patients by increasing follicular development and improving egg collection to some degree. The study provides a possible future therapeutic protocol for POI.

As more and more studies provide evidence of stem cells’ clinical benefits, it is likely that the number of registered stem cell therapies will increase in the future. This is exciting news for the fertility community.

While FSMG does not currently offer stem cell as a treatment option, we are available to consult and evaluate your fertility health, request an appointment.

You’re unique.
Your fertility plan should be too.