IVA – IN VITRO ACTIVATION
The problem with older fertility patients is that follicles that mature no longer contain healthy egg cells. The cause can be explained as such: fibres of collagen in the outer shell of the ovary surround the immature small follicles in which the egg cells are located and protect them from damage. After the menstrual period, many follicles begin to grow at the same time, all follicles but one stop growing after a few days and only the remaining follicle can mature until ovulation and release a beautiful egg cell for fertilisation. As women age, the collagen around the follicles becomes thinner and stiffer. The stiff collagen fibres therefore restrict the growing follicles, they are trapped as if they were in encapsulated in plaster and cannot mature.
The authors of one study surgically removed the outer layer of the ovary, which contains the immature follicles, and cut it into small pieces. In doing so, they also cut through the solid collagen fibres that were restricting the follicles. They then sewed the ‘chopped up ovarian tissue back into the ovary – and lo and behold – follicles were able to form again by ovulation. Two healthy children were recently born in China following this treatment.
We can see that science is always looking for new methods to make the dream of having a child come true for more mature women, for example through IVA treatment.
IVM – IN VITRO MATURATION
IVM treatment is a method of artificial insemination in which immature egg cells are removed from the woman’s ovary. These are matured in a test tube alongside hormones and are then fertilised with the male semen. The fertilised egg is reinserted into the woman’s uterus as an embryo. This method is discussed controversially in professional journals and there have been very few confirmed pregnancies.