The New "Infertility Switch"

An enzyme may help control fertility in women 1 of 1

October 18, 2011

Fertility is a very delicate thing in women. It can be affected by lifestyle, illness, sexually transmitted diseases, certain medications or genetics. For a woman to find out she is infertile or to have trouble conceiving can be devastating; but scientists have made a discovery that could change all of that.

A study from the Imperial College London found that an enzyme, called SGK1, is linked with fertility in women. The study tested samples of the uterine lining of 106 women who were being treated for unexplained infertility or for recurrent miscarriages (three or more consecutively). High levels of this protein in the lining was shown to cause infertility; and, because a lack of the enzyme makes the uterine lining vulnerable to stress, low levels were shown to increase the risk of miscarriage.

This knowledge may lead to special treatments that will block these enzymes to allow infertile women a chance to conceive via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and treatments to boost levels for women who have miscarried. In addition, this enzyme could also be used as a new form of contraception due to its pregnancy-preventing powers.

The scientists experimented with levels of SGK1 in lab mice, finding that increasing the amount of the enzyme present prevented pregnancy. Because these tests were done on animals, I imagine it will be a while before any actual treatments utilizing SGK1 become available for humans.

It continues to amaze me how complex and wonderful our bodies are. So many of our functions can be improved and ailments cured by using or altering what we already have inside of us.


Natalie Moya | ChaCha Health + Lifestyle