What is Ovarian Rejuvenation and How Successful is it?
Worldwide there is a general increase in the age at which women have their first child. Changes in lifestyle and in the concept of motherhood itself mean that maternal age is increasing, which in many cases makes it difficult to achieve a pregnancy naturally.
The average age of patients who visit IVI clinics is 38 years of age. Over half the women who are treated at IVI are aged 40 or over. Age is a factor that works against female fertility. On one hand, it causes lower oocyte quality, increasing the possibility of generating embryos with aneuploidies. On the other hand, it also involves a reduction in the number of oocytes, with the disadvantage of having a lower capacity for ovarian response. All of this leads women to turn to reproductive medicine in order to achieve their dream of becoming mothers.
IVI is known for their constant research. They have recently focused their efforts on developing various ovarian rejuvenation techniques designed for women with low ovarian reserve and low egg quality. This allows IVI specialists to take on the challenge of responding to the most complex cases. For this purpose, they established the First Center of Excellence in Ovarian Rejuvenation, located in Alicante. Their ovarian rejuvenation techniques include IVI Regenerate Ovary, ASCOT-1 and OFFA (Ovarian Reactivation). Let us have a closer look at each of the techniques.
IVI Regenerate Ovary
This novel technique seeks to reactivate the ovary’s function by injecting growth factors, derived from platelets from the patient into the ovarian cortex. Therefore, it uses regenerative medicine applied to the field of fertility. The objective is to reactivate ovarian function and improve endometrial receptivity.
This is explained by Dr. Manuel Muñoz, director of both IVI Alicante and the Center of Excellence for Ovarian Rejuvenation:
“We use the patient’s own platelets, which are capable of producing growth factors, and tissue regeneration factors. The working hypothesis is that, after injection inside the ovarian cortex, they are capable of rescuing follicles that are at a stage prior to the moment when they are available so that they can be stimulated and oocytes can be obtained from them.”
This technique is used as an alternative to treat refractory endometrium (caused by endometrial thinness), as well as in cases of premature ovarian failure and low ovarian reserve. The ultimate goal is to improve patient success rates.
It is also a simple procedure, which initially requires a blood draw. This is processed in the laboratory to obtain the platelet concentrate, activated in turn by another laboratory procedure, and then infused via a guided transvaginal puncture.
ASCOT-1 is a stem cell therapy, which in the last 10 years has led to important advances in regenerative medicine. Stem cells have the capacity to develop into other cell types, meaning they act as an internal repairer in other tissues. The reason for this is their constant division to replace the cells that disappear. At IVI, they have developed a technique that takes advantage of this potential to treat infertility.
For example, in cases of ovarian insufficiency, stem cells could develop ovarian functions with the appropriate biological stimulus. This, together with the injection of plasma rich in growth factors, enables the ovarian function to be recovered by restoring the physiological processes that are part of follicular recruitment.
With ASCOT-1, the patient’s ovaries are instilled with a preparation rich in her own stem cells. Dr. Muñoz explains how this is achieved:
“We apply a prior treatment, using what we call colony-stimulating factor, which causes the mobilization of the patient’s bone marrow stem cells so that, once the blood draw is carried out, we can rescue these cells and subsequently inject them into the patient’s ovary with a procedure very similar to the one we use for the infusion of platelets.”
This technique is basically a transplant of the patient’s own ovarian cortex. The cortex sample is extracted and processed into different fragments that are reinserted into the ovary. In this way, the so-called “dormant” follicles are reactivated and they grow and develop.
As described by Dr. Muñoz:
“This technique is particularly indicated for patients who have prematurely ceased their ovarian function. It consists of a surgical procedure, a laparoscopy, with the aim of removing part of the cortex of the patient’s ovary, activating that cortex in the laboratory and then reimplanting the tissue in a highly vascularized area of the ovary. This technique is based on the possibility of being able to induce the activation of the so-called “dormant” follicles, which are the follicles in the stage prior to the antral follicle, in which they can be stimulated. Basically, it involves the activation of the ovarian tissue with the purpose of eventually producing those follicles which in turn can lead to restarting the ovarian function.”
How Successful is Ovarian Rejuvenation?
Thanks to the various techniques that make up ovarian rejuvenation, patients diagnosed with low ovarian reserve could successfully become mothers with their own eggs.
“We have data indicating that patients undergoing ovarian rejuvenation experience an increase in AMH levels. These in turn are associated with the likelihood of obtaining more oocytes during the puncture. Furthermore, we have observed that a single round of treatment is sufficient to see the benefits of the ovarian rejuvenation technique. And we estimate that we will need between 2 and 6 months to observe them,” concluded Dr. Manuel Muñoz.
If you are over 38 or are younger but have been diagnosed with premature low ovarian reserve, ovarian rejuvenation techniques could present a solution for you. The above-mentioned methods are an amazing alternative especially if you are looking to have IVF with your own gametes.
If you are interested in discovering more details about ovarian rejuvenation techniques, contact Dr. Manuel Muñoz or the patient care team at IVI. IVI Group has numerous clinics throughout Spain so you can choose from these locations Alicante, Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastián, Las Palmas, Madrid, Málaga, Mallorca, Murcia, Sevilla, Valencia.