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Ovary Removal in Girls is Now a Viable Option

Ovary removal in girls is now possible for fertility preservation

May 8, 2019
Bridget Houlihan

As researchers and doctors continue to make advancements in fertility treatments, it is safe to say that technology is leading the way. The removal of ovaries in general-- let alone in children as young as 5 months old-- would have been impossible just 20 years ago. But it is possible now-- and it is done as an outpatient surgery as well. This is great news to children who are dealing with life threatening diseases such as cancer or who run the risk of inheriting conditions such as  muscular dystrophy-- they can now make arrangements to have an ovary removed and preserved for future use.

The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery and were the first to be published by a U.S. journal on this type of fertility preservation. We’re going to discuss what the results of their research were, in particular:

  • How doctors remove an ovary
  • What this means for the future of fertility preservation

molecule model
Doctors can successfully remove the ovarian tissue in girls as young as 5 months old and cryogenically preserve it.

How Exactly Do Doctors Remove an Ovary?

While fertility experts in the United States have known that experimental procedures such as ovary tissue removal have existed for a couple of years-- there had never been a study done on the actual success rate of the surgery. There are circumstances where it had seemed like a good option-- such as if the child needs to undergo chemotherapy for cancer, which has been known to severely damage ovaries. But until this study done by researchers at the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, there was no complete analysis of outcomes and complications from removing an ovary.

Doctors described how this is a surgery that can be done laparoscopically and on an outpatient basis. They found there were no complications, and that there was no need to delay treatments like chemotherapy. Doctors are able to remove the ovarian tissue without damaging it and store it by means of cryopreservation-- which will keep the ovary viable until the woman is ready to have children.

small child in a field
Now more women will have the opportunity to have children with this latest breakthrough in fertility preservation.

What This Means for the Future

After the ovarian tissue has been stored, a woman might decide she is ready to now pursue having children. If she had undergone invasive treatments as a child, there is no risk to using her stored ovary, as it is still intact and unharmed-- just like the day it was removed. In order to use her ovarian tissue, doctors will implant the preserved tissue onto her remaining ovary. It will then start behave like a normal ovary, and the woman can pursue having a child in the natural way.

Another way for women to use their stored ovarian tissue is to have the oocytes removed and then matured into eggs for in vitro fertilization. Scientists have been experimenting with growing egg cells to their maturity in the lab, and have recently been able to do so from one of the earliest stages of the egg. These recent developments are fantastic news for people who due to disease or congenital problems would have been left unable to have children.

Fertility advancements in preservation techniques is an area of science that is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Science has paved the way for more and more people to have the chance to become pregnant and have children.


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