Researchers at the University of California believe keystone research into ovarian reserve markers is crucial to the future of reproductive medicine. Thousands of women undergo cancer treatments each year, some of which affects fertility by destroying follicles that play a crucial part in egg maturation and overall fertility. Understanding how and to what extent follicle damage occurs can drastically change fertility preparation and outcome after cancer treatments have concluded.

It is known that chemotherapy and radiation may drastically reduce the number of eggs in the ovarian reserve. Chronological age at the time of treatment affects ovarian age, as does the treatment itself. Difficulty conceiving and increased risk of miscarriage are associated with cancer treatment, but women must also face increased ovarian age, which could lead to premature menopause.

With the right research, doctors can learn ovarian age markers that can be used to determine ovarian age and thus predict fertility success after treatment and help women prepare for the effect of cancer treatment with fertility-sparing methods like egg harvesting and cryopreservation.

Source: Letourneau J, Chan SW, Rosen MP. Accelerating Ovarian Age: Cancer Treatment in the Premenopausal Woman. Semin Reprod Med. 2013 Nov;31(6):462-468. Epub 2013 Oct 7. DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1356482.