Though it is Easter, this post not about decorated food hidden by Leporidae but mammalian eggs.
This is interesting and shows a clear distinction between the male and female reproductive system. Sperm is derived from sperm stem cells and probably this is why men can conceive children from the age of twelve until they die. But women cannot.
As women become older the quality of their eggs decreases. However, this study shows that we could improve egg quality of older women and hence this would lengthen the reproductive span of the female population.
Granulosa cells are cells that surround oocytes in a woman’s ovaries. Ordinarily they do not produce egg cells. As we have seen that egg stem cells do not exist, this is a way older women could still be able to get children of their own.
Unlike the previous link, this about actual but unripe egg cells that have been harvested from a woman’s ovary. What normally happens in one’s ovary, has now be done in the lab.
Old human somatic cells become rejuvenated when they are induced to become stem cells. This is interesting. Though not directly related to producing human gametes, it could pave the way to turn random cells into either sperm or eggs that could result into healthy children.
Why does this matter? The general trend is for people to live longer and that women are getting their first child at a later age. It is not uncommon for women to become mother for the first time, when they are already in their thirties. Because of completing education and having a career, many women choose to postpone motherhood.
However, human biology has not caught up with the time. And women still face a rather abrupt end of their reproductive life. This creates a fundamental inequality between men and women. As the former could reproduce until their very last breath.
In his article The Paradox of Polygamy Satoshi Kanazawa makes the following remark:
When Donald Trump has had three wives sequentially, he too deprived two other men of their reproductive opportunities, because by the time he divorced his previous wives, they were past their reproductive age.
Why should a 89-year-old man like Bernie Ecclestone be allowed to become a father again but a healthy woman of, say, 55 not a mother? Only because a man can do so?
Let’s say that Alice is a 55-year-old woman and has a stable long term relationship with Bob, who is 40. Both are in good physical health and given their lifestyles, each of them has a reasonable chance to live up until the age of 95. Why should society deny this couple the ability to have a family?