Fertility research hits the headlines again…

Today it’s a story about the ovaries of women who’ve been through an early menopause being “reawakened” by researchers in Japan and the US using a new technique.  The first baby has been born using the technique which involves taking out the ovaries, cutting them up and treating them before returning them to the top of the fallopian tubes. Apparently this has led to follicles starting to develop in 8 of the 27 women in the study, and one has now had a baby.

It sounds exciting, and the idea that there could be a way to help women whose ovaries have stopped producing eggs prematurely is fantastic – but unfortunately this is another example of a headline that will have raised the hopes of many women and yet is  highly unlikely to make any difference to their current situation. The problem with the reporting of new developments in research is that it is hard to keep them in perspective. Remember, this is a research study and it’s not something the staff at your local fertility clinic are going to be able to offer you next week – or even next year. It’s still very much at the experimental stage and only one of the 27 women in the study has actually had a baby using this technique although another is expected. We have no idea why it worked for these two women and not for the others, and far more research is needed before it would be able to be offered to on a wider scale.

Of course, we want to know about new advances, but if you monitor the headlines you’ll find news of a “breakthrough” or an “exciting new development” every few weeks – and many seem to disappear without trace afterwards. I was glad to see that the BBC had put the story into perspective by interviewing Professor Nick Macklon and Professor Charles Kingsland but it’s difficult not to get excited when research teams produce a treatment that could change your life if it worked –  try to remember that it can be a very long journey from research to reality. You can read more about the study here 




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