New Study Shows Women’s ‘Body Clocks’ Could Be a Thing of the Past

Pregnant woman at home relaxing by drawing with color pencils.

When it comes to fertility, a new research study at the University of Edinburgh discovered that the human ovary may be able to grow new eggs in adulthood, according to the Guardian. This could be life changing for many women, especially those suffering with infertility issues.

As of now, we are taught that women are born with a set number of eggs, and once they hit middle age, the number of eggs starts to decline before menopause (YAYYYYY) sets in. However, according to the university’s research, they found that young women who had been given a chemotherapy drug had a higher quantity of eggs in their ovaries than healthy women of the same age. The study involved cancer patients.

The study, led by Professor Evelyn Telfer, set out to analyze ovarian biopsies to find out why the drug, called ABVD, does not produce the same fertility issues that are associated with other types of chemotherapy medication. What she found surprised her, stating:

“This was something remarkable and completely unexpected for us. The tissue appeared to have formed new eggs. The dogma is that the human ovary has a fixed population of eggs and that no new eggs form throughout life.”

Of course, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean the treatment will be on offer immediately as more research into the ABVD drug is needed–since there are many different factors and there needs to be more research done to see possible effects the drug may have. This is why Nick Macklon, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southampton, thinks the work is “hugely controversial,” stating:

“The slight worry is that clinicians are very quick to pick up anything that will improve IVF. There’s no evidence at this stage that these drugs would improve the odds for people who are having a poor response to IVF drugs.”

Can we just say that bodies are complicated, especially ovaries? I think any woman will agree with that. Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg from University Hospital in Stockholm, however, feels excited about the findings:

“I think that these findings, and the identification of the mechanisms involved, may pave the way for development of new fertility treatments or extend women’s reproductive span by replenishment of the ovaries with new follicles.

It suggests that the ovary is indeed a more complex and versatile organ than we have been taught, or that we expected, with an inherent capacity of renewal.”

Who knows what modern science will show us next.

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Joanna Valente

Joanna Valente is the Editorial Assistant at Kveller. She is the author of Sirs & Madams The Gods Are Dead, and Marys of the Sea (forthcoming), and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. You can follow her @joannasaid on Twitter, @joannacvalente on Instagram, or email her at

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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