Creating human eggs from stem cells: scientific breakthrough of unknown value (at present)

One of the most vexing problems in human reproduction has been the accepted fact that women are born with every egg that they are ever going to have. As women age, the number of viable eggs goes down until she is no longer able to conceive her own biological child. A new study [u1] has questioned this current position by actually creating new eggs from stem cells.

Stem cells are the special cells within the body that have not been assigned a specific identity. As a result, they can become kidney cells or skin cells or muscle cells. But until now, there has not been confirmation that they can become the special cells that are necessary to support reproduction (eggs or sperm). This new study has changed that perspective.

It is important to point out that this is the first report and therefore the technique needs to be repeated and verified before we can be certain of this new breakthrough. It is also noteworthy that this study involved a process where women were having their ovaries removed as part of gender re-assignment surgery. The ovaries were then processed in the lab in order to derive the cells that reportedly produced a limited number of eggs. It is therefore possible that even if this study is confirmed that it will only apply to young women and that the technique would require that they lose an ovary in order to create these eggs. Since it is older women that typically need to generate new eggs, we aren’t yet certain that this new breakthrough will ever be of practical value to women most in need of these results. Nonetheless, each step toward overcoming a potential barrier to reproduction is cause for celebration—even if we simply develop new information that assists us in understanding other aspects of reproduction.

2 thoughts on “Creating human eggs from stem cells: scientific breakthrough of unknown value (at present)

  1. dr. green this is off topic but i need your opinion. without going into too much detail, i am 46 and had a very high fsh reading on cd 29; in fact my doc said i probably wouldn’t ov ever again and it’s been about 46 days since my last cycle.

    2 nights ago, i felt the sensation that i would soon be getting my period; i was asleep but do remember it. the next afternoon round 4pm i had a huge amount of cm, not seen since i was in my twenties and it lasted all evening. we had s last night. today i’m almost back to normal cm.

    my doc thinks i ov’d but i need your opinion. did i ov before the cm? or am i about to? because if it was before then i probably missed the window as geezer eggs deteriorate after 12 hours (correct)?

    i would appreciate any thoughts you have on the matter. thanks so much!

    1. Dear Katherine,
      There is no way to confirm in real-time whether or not you have already ovulated. It is true that eggs are typically fertile for ~20 hours after ovulation. I would sugest that you just proceed as if you did ovulate 😉 and hope for the best. If you want to check, have your doctor check your progesterone level in about a week and half. If it is >10pg/mL then you did ovulate.
      Best thoughts,

      Robert Greene, MD, FACOG

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