Eggs Possible with 'menopause' Condition

BETHESDA, Md., April 27 (UPI) — Women who have primary ovarian insufficiency — an early menopause-like condition — may still have immature eggs in their ovaries, U.S. researchers said.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., said women with primary ovarian insufficiency — one out of 100 women by age 40 — stop producing normal amounts of reproductive hormones, develop hot flashes, no longer have menstrual cycles and are mostly infertile.

“The discovery that most women with primary ovarian insufficiency have immature eggs remaining in their ovaries raises the possibility of developing treatments for the infertility that accompanies the condition,” Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher, acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, an NIH institute, said in a statement.

Nelson and colleagues used ultrasound to assess follicle maturation in a group of women with the condition and women with normal menstrual cycles. The study finds 73 percent of the women with primary ovarian insufficiency had ovarian follicles that were capable of producing ovarian hormones.

Women with primary ovarian insufficiency are usually treated with a patch that releases estradiol — the predominant sex hormone in women — to alleviate menopause-like symptoms.

Some participants in Nelson’s studies have become pregnant during treatment with the estradiol patch.

Nelson suggests estradiol allowed the women’s follicles to mature by suppressing luteinizing hormone, which is produced by the anterior pituitary gland and triggers ovulation, into the normal range.

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