Ovarian Rejuvenation

Ovarian Rejuvenation is a series of experimental procedures that may create new eggs or activate primordial eggs in the ovaries of women who are unable to conceive because of early menopause, low egg counts, advanced maternal age, or women who want to continue to have their ovaries produce eggs so that natural hormones are produced. 

Medicine has long thought that new eggs do not develop in the ovaries and, according to the current scientific understanding of ovarian physiology, a woman is born with all the eggs that will be available for conception during her reproductive life. It is a scientifically undisputed fact that a woman’s supply of eggs diminishes both in number and quality as she ages.

We now know about stem cells and it has been shown clearly that these exist in the ovaries. Recent experiments have demonstrated activation of these stem cells, and we are now looking at different techniques to do this for women. We also know that most eggs in the ovaries will never be used, and perhaps activation of these eggs will provide desired outcomes.

How can ovarian rejuvenation occur?

Over the last decade, ovarian stem cells have been identified. Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during life and growth. Additionally, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialised function, such as a muscle cell or a brain cell and in this case, a new egg. 

There are a number of scientific bases for ovarian rejuvenation. Theoretically the different techniques are proposed to work via activation of very early egg structures or through the activation of stem cells that are normally found in all parts of the human body. Under the proper biological stimulus, stem cells can mature into any type of cell in the human body.  

The procedures being undertaken around the world include Inovium, OFFA, ASCOT and IVA.  

“The discovery and understanding on ovarian stem cells has sweeping implications. One is the possibility of harnessing them to produce an unlimited number of eggs. For women struggling with fertility, this might change everything,” explains Dr Knight.

Who might it help?

Any woman who is in good physical health and falls into one or more of the following four patient categories:

  • Menopausal women under the age of 55
  • Infertile women of all ages (low egg reserve and low AMH levels) 
  • Women with Premature Ovarian Failure
  • Women with Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

Potential benefits of ovarian rejuvenation therapy

The benefits of this procedure is the possibility of achieving pregnancy using the patient’s own eggs, which had not been possible or very unlikely prior to the procedure.  2018 has arguably been a break out year for publications in the medical literature containing data showing positive effects on oocyte growth and development, embryo quality and most importantly, pregnancies.

Ovarian rejuvenation treatment was first offered by Dr Knight in 2017, in conjunction with the development of these treatments in many other centres worldwide including Center for Human Reproduction in New York, Genesis IVF in Athens, IVI-Valencia (Spain), Japan, San Diego, Poland, Egypt….. Given the range of limitations on access to reproductive technologies in Australia, Dr Knight began performing some of these treatments deciding it is appropriate that women in Australia can access these opportunities without having to travel overseas.

In a female population with an increasing prevalence in the loss of ovarian function due to induced primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) and aging, there is now a need to develop new treatments and provide new opportunities to utilise the enormous surplus of eggs that most females are born with. 

Dr Knight performs these procedures at Waratah Private Hospital in Hurstville, Sydney. For more information, please contact us.