Can the ovarian reserve be restored?

An interesting discovery was made by scientists at the Harvard Medical School, who had denied widespread opinion that a woman's ovarian reserve is non-renewable. The researchers have found oogonia (progenitors of oocytes) first in the ovaries of mice and then of adult women. Modern technologies allowed to count the number of divisions, which the cell had passed through: it was sufficient to measure the length of oogonias’ telomeres (end sections of DNA). The length of telomeres clearly shows that the studied cells are the product of successive division of oogonia, which proves that the cells continue to divide in the ovary during the reproductive period of a woman.

It is necessary to mention once again about a very common misbelief. There is a common idea that a woman has only 350-400 eggs for the whole life, so after multifollicular ovarian stimulation, required for IVF, almost 5% of all ovarian reserve "is taken away". In fact, the amount of potential eggs is much more than 400. The reserve of follicles, from which an egg “grows up” later, starts to form at the girl’s organism while being in the womb, and amounts of germ cells in the beginning is about 6-7 million.


During the reproductive period a certain number of follicles is given for each menstrual cycle, but only one of them becomes the egg (other follicles die), but with each multifollicular ovarian stimulation - most of them become eggs. Therefore, the claims of critics that the multifollicular ovarian stimulation exhausts the ovarian reserve (which, as had been considered before is non-renewable) are the least groundless - the number of used follicles remains absolutely the same, just more of them become active (an egg), not only one.

As for the discovery of american scientists, I believe that their findings will please all women. Particularly important it can become for those women who suffer from cancer and have to undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In recent years the cryopreservation of ovarian cells, before start of therapy, has been developed greatly: cells are transferred back to the patient after the successful completion of treatment. Before they believed that the ovarian reserve is non-renewable, so these transplanted ovary cells could provide a very limited number of oocytes, but the latest discovery makes the perspective of conceiving for these women much more optimistic.