Can Women’s ‘Aging’ Eggs Be Rejuvenated?

By: Tia Ghose
Published: 03/23/2015 11:43 AM EDT on LiveScience

Can you teach an old egg new tricks?

One fertility treatment company claims it can, by rejuvenating women’s aging eggs. The company, called OvaScience, says its method aims to improve the health of an egg’s mitochondria, which are the tiny powerhouses that give cells the energy to divide and grow.

But experts advise caution over those claims. Although some early evidence suggests aging mitochondria could reduce a woman’s fertility, expert say, there are no studies that prove the new method will work. In addition, the company isn’t forthcoming with details of its process.

“They’re quite private and secretive about what they’re doing,” said Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a San Francisco Bay Area ob-gyn and fertility specialist who has no affiliation to OvaScience. “If you were to call as a consumer, they wouldn’t tell you anything.” [Future of Fertility: 7 Ways Baby-Making Could Change]

What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved the method that the company says it uses, so the treatment is not available in the United States, just in a few other countries.

Fertility and age

The method is based on the idea that time takes its toll on women’s eggs. When a woman is born, she has all the follicles, or immature eggs, she will ever have. At birth, baby girls have millions of follicles in their ovaries, but throughout a woman’s life, the follicles die, said Kateryna Makova, a genomicist at Pennsylvania State University in State College, who is not associated with Ova Science.

Once a girl reaches puberty, she begins to ovulate. During ovulation, hormonal spikes spur one egg at a time to mature, after which it is released from the ovary into the fallopian tubes. But by the time a girl starts menstruating, she may have only a few —> Read More