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7 Medical Breakthroughs for Women

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5. Fertility-Saving Surgery

There's good news for the 6.1 million American women who can't get pregnant. Doctors are now using ovarian transplants to help some of those suffering from infertility produce viable eggs.

Last year, a 25-year-old woman, who previously had been infertile after going through premature menopause, gave birth to a healthy baby after receiving an ovary from her twin sister at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis. Because her twin was a perfect match genetically, the woman didn't need to take transplant anti-rejection drugs, which can cause serious side effects.

Since then, ovarian transplants have been performed on five sets of identical twin sisters (three women are pregnant and two have resumed menstruating). Before the end of this year, Sherman J. Silber, MD, director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis and head of the surgical team there, hopes to increase the number of women who can benefit from this procedure by performing the transplant on sisters who are not identical twins.

Once that happens, he says, transplants could become routine within the next five years for women who could not otherwise get pregnant.

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