Early research shows that stem cell therapy may help reverse primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which is also known as premature ovarian failure (POF). Using human bone marrow stem cells, investigators were able to induce regular periods in women who had stopped getting their periods due to POI/POF.
POI/POF is defined as the loss of normal ovarian function in a woman before the age of 40. It occurs in 1/250 women before the age of 35, and 1/100 women before the age of 40. In a small percentage of cases, we can identify a clear cause (sometimes genetic or autoimmune, for example). In 75-90% of cases, the cause is unknown.
In general, POI/POF was always thought to be an irreversible process. These recent preliminary findings may suggest otherwise, however. Researchers harvested patients’ own bone marrow and transplanted the stem cells into each patient’s right ovary. Each patient’s left ovary was injected with saline as a control. Over the next year, the treated ovaries doubled in size. Serum estrogen levels and quality of life factors also improved significantly. Only a handful of patients were involved in the preliminary phase of this trial, due to its highly experimental nature. The next phase is scheduled to enroll 33 participants.
While additional research is clearly required to assess the safety and efficacy of this type of treatment, it holds promise for the future of women with POI/POF. We will continue to follow this trial as additional results become available. If you or someone you know is struggling with early ovarian failure or infertility in general, please contact us today!