Researchers from John Hopkins University have identified a gene variation that, according to a recent study, may be the cause of a substantial number of infertility cases.
Researchers have known that this specific gene variation is involved in regulating cholesterol in the bloodstream, and now it appears to also affect progesterone production in women.
Progesterone is commonly used as a part of hormone replacement therapy by decreasing the amount of estrogen in the uterus or it may work to bring on menstruation by replacing the natural progesterone that some women are missing.
The John Hopkins researchers first linked a deficiency in this specific gene variation and infertility in a study involving female mice, then translated those findings into a study of women with a history of infertility.
The researchers are hopeful that this may bring about happy news for a lot of couple struggling to have a child.
“If the new study’s findings hold up on further investigation, the John Hopkins team says they not only will offer clues into a genetic cause of some infertility, but could also lead to a treatment already shown to work in mice,” according to a University press release.
Fertilitytoday.org stated that the incidence of infertility is estimated to affect at least 11 percent of couples of reproductive age – representing over 10 million couples in the United States –and that number continues to rise each year.
Exact reasons for infertility are not easy to explain; it is a complex condition with numerous potential causes. Reasons for infertility vary for each couple.
“Right now, the benefit of this research is in knowing that there might be a genetic reason for why some women have difficulty getting pregnant. In the future, we hope this knowledge can be translated into a cure for this type of infertility," said Annabelle Rodriguez, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the leader of the study published online in the journal Human Reproduction.