Throwing it back to grade school biology class, there are a few reproductive anatomy basics that have always held steadfast. In the female body, it's been widely accepted that women are born with a fixed amount of eggs. But a new study has asked the unprecedented question: Can ovaries produce new eggs? It seems that preliminary research indicates it could totally be possible.
Spearheaded by the University of Edinburgh, the study at hand focused on a small spread of cancer patients. Ultimately, researches "showed that ovarian biopsies taken from young women who had been given a chemotherapy drug had a far higher density of eggs than healthy women of the same age," thus suggesting that it's possible to increase egg numbers over one's lifetime. Lead researcher Prof. Evelyn Telfer emphasized: "This was something remarkable and completely unexpected for us. The tissue appeared to have formed new eggs." This could be excellent news for women with fertility issues.
This dogma-changing discovery was made inadvertently, as the initial goal of the research was to determine why a specific chemotherapy drug doesn't cause fertility issues like many others of its nature do. Overall, the results were drastic, with users of the tested treatment having "between double and four times the density of visible eggs in the ovarian tissue than the control group," The Guardian reports. Admittedly, the research doesn't prove that the treatment produces excess eggs, but this is Telfer's "favoured explanation, because it fits in with other clues."
Limitations definitely exist for these findings, and much more research needs to be conducted before the research is deemed conclusive. Whereas the women in the study were shown to have higher numbers of eggs, the functionality of these eggs—i.e. their ability to be fertilized—is still yet to be determined. Nick Macklon, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southampton, helped to interpret the results a bit farther, telling The Guardian that readers should be wary of the drug's overall effectiveness, saying: "There's no evidence at this stage that these drugs would improve the odds for people who are having a poor response to IVF drugs."
Regardless, this is without a doubt positive development in the field of fertility. Furthermore, the reexamining of such a vital reproductive organ insists that there's still so much to learn about the female body. If it is true that this drug enables ovaries to grow new eggs, then limitations on women's reproductive thresholds could be lifted, expanding the opportunities of motherhood to a wider scope of women.