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Judo vs. Fertility

Too much of a good thing just might be what a few people want!
(+2, -2)
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Occasionally somebody decides he or she does not want any (or any more) children, and begins to look into various sterilization options. For women, the options seem to mostly involve significant surgery, and this Idea hopes to offer a better alternative.

Consider the fact that a woman is born with a fixed number of eggs in her ovaries, and that after reaching sexual maturity she will begin "ripening" those eggs at roughly one per month. Eventually she would run out, but more likely she will first grow old enough for menopause to set in, and the monthly cycle will then simply be shut down.

What if she could run out of eggs sooner, at a time of her own choosing? She would then be both youthful and completely infertile. Well, that is where the title of this Idea comes in. In Judo, the idea is to take something you don't like, that is coming your way, and amplify it in a way that detrimentally affects its source. Grab someone's fist and YANK, for example.

OK, we do have an analogy to the subject of fertility, and they are drugs. Fertility drugs, to be precise. These things tend to cause a woman to ripen several eggs at once, and not just the usual one-at-a-time. For a woman who has a problem with the natural cycle, fertility drugs can help with her desire to have children.

But they can ALSO help with the desire to become sterile by nonsurgical means! We simply want a super-duper fertility drug, that ripens a hundred eggs at once! (Obviously, the woman must avoid sex for a limited time, while waiting for them to be naturally flushed from her system.) After just a few months of this treatment, she most certainly will have no eggs left. Mission accomplished!

Vernon, Jan 05 2004

Not the same, but along the same line... http://www.drwhitney.com/dsp_pr.cfm
Non-surgical method of female sterilization [lyrl, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) More similar stuff http://www.fda.gov/.../2002/ANS01168.html
This time, FDA-approved [lyrl, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

(?) Chemotherapy-Induced Menopause http://www.tsrcc.on.ca/obciep/tim.htm
What happens when you kill all of a woman's eggs [lyrl, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       aren't there millions of eggs?   

       I'd prefer bioengineering the moth genes into the genome. Quoting from Dan Simmon's latest, The Illium, certain moths can take sperm and choose if and when to fertilize the egg.
theircompetitor, Jan 05 2004

       What if all of those 100 eggs got fertilized at once???
chironic, Jan 05 2004

       Fishbone - there's no way I'm advocating that much abstinence.....
normzone, Jan 05 2004

       Actually, I was under the impression that the total number of eggs in the ovaries were only a few hundred. Do the math: assume 50 years of fertility and one egg per lunar cycle (13 per year): 650 eggs. Bump it up to a thousand if you like -- but remember, Nature usually does not tend to preserve things that never get used. That's why primates lost the genes for making Vitamin C (a fruit rich diet made the genes unnecessary).   

       Note that I am not insisting that the above calculation is right, but something like it IS where this Idea was coming from. Can anyone provide a good link to appropriate scientific data on this subject?   

       Also, the notion of ripening only a hundred at a time is subject to modification -- does anyone have any idea just how powerful a Judo Effect might be possible here?   

       Finally, if there really are a generous excess of eggs, then the appropriate strategy is to take the super-fertility drug in one month, then skip a few months, then take it again, and so on. Ordinary already-existing birth control methods should be adequate, during the skipped months, until the overall plan has been completed.
Vernon, Jan 05 2004

       I hear that fertility drugs have many side effects. And cause an increased risk of ovarian cancer. I'm not sure what massive doses of them would do to a woman, but suspect it would be highly unpleasant.   

       About the number of eggs - every month, several [Correction after reading jutta's link: 50 to several hundred] eggs start to ripen. And then all but one or two decay. So it's not exactly a 1 per month thing.   

       Also, menopause occurs when the ovaries stop responding to egg-ripening hormones. This may be because all remaining eggs are defective. Or it may be that all the eggs have either been released or died. In any case, if you remove all the eggs (or get them to leave), you've just created the condition for menopause. So the woman gets hot flashes, memory lapses, etc., as the body tries massive hormone swings to try to make the ovaries respond. After 1-3 years, menopausal symptoms should pass (the body gives up trying to stimulate the ovaries).   

       But for the women willing to endure all that, this could be a great alternative to surgery!
lyrl, Jan 05 2004

       Thanks, lyrl, I was wondering about whether or not running out of eggs was the actual cause of menopause. One thing about what you wrote, though, is an extension of the fact that the body uses various hormones to communicate between parts of itself. What does the ovaries produce, BESIDES eggs, that lets the rest of the body know that everything is OK? Estrogen, probably, but why should they stop making it JUST because they have run out of eggs? Suppose a thorough study of the ovaries discovered something about their operation, such that they can be induced to ignore the fact that they have run out of eggs....   

       Regarding the side effects of fertility drugs, I am not surprised -- all drugs seem to do more than just one thing. Perhaps the super-fertility drug desired here would be worse or better (because the goal is different, to do far more than kick-start malfunctioning ovaries -- and women with malfunctioning ovaries don't need much birth control, anyway!). Perhaps the drug should be introduced via vagina/uterus/fallopean tubes, to reduce effects upon the rest of the body.
Vernon, Jan 06 2004

       Vernon, have you bumped your head recently? I really had you pegged for a 12864 straight man. Did you know that some women can feel the ovary's release of the egg? It's like a ping or a slight burn. Could you imagine this multiplied tenfold--and more? With this in mind, wouldn't it be less painful for >you< if you just had the surgery instead?
Tiger Lily, Jan 06 2004

       Each immature egg is housed inside a follicle. When a mature egg bursts through a follicle wall, the damaged follicle starts producing progesterone, letting the rest of the body know an egg was released. After 12-16 days (if there is no HCG - pregnancy hormone) the follicle dies, triggering menstruation.   

       Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms do respond very well to hormonal treatment. I think perimenopausal women are usually put on birth control pills, and recently menopausal women are given full-blown hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for up to three years (after which the menopausal sypmtoms shouldn't return; also the point at which HRT starts causing osteoporosis and heart problems and other nasty stuff).   

       Another thought: if the women who underwent this treatment had their eggs harvested instead of being naturally released, they could make alot of money.
lyrl, Jan 06 2004

       Tiger Lily, I had heard about some women claiming that they could feel their egg(s) being released, but didn't know how intense the feeling was. If most cannot, though, then for them this could still be a workable idea. This is the sort of thing that extended medical trials would be on the lookout for, to find out what is tolerable.   

       Please remember that I posted this idea because for women, standard sterilization techniques are SO invasive. Men have it much easier -- but if a woman wants no more pregnancies, she can only guarantee it by taking the matter personally (consider the case of the vasectomy that fails, or the nightmare of rape). Also note that elsewhere here at the HalfBakery is an idea "Reversible Sterilization" (heh--at top right of this page!), which has notions for both sexes. I think lyrl might be suprised at what I suggested there, for women!
Vernon, Jan 06 2004

       Wow! It's his shortest idea ever!   

       (later edit): okay, so almost.
RayfordSteele, Jan 06 2004

       Thanks for the links! I sure didn't know that those eggs died off so easily. And certainly the sheer initial numbers is a surprise, too. (But together, they very clearly explain the high risk of birth defects among older women....)   

       lyrl, consider a nice friendly bacterium that was engineered to steadily produce a small amount of progesterone, and then release it in response to the body's signal to a follicle, to ripen an egg....
Vernon, Jan 06 2004

       That [the bacterium idea] would be a great treatment for menopause; it would probably prevent the heightened risk of osteoporosis and heart problems usually associated with menopause [of course, that's what doctors used to think about HRT]. It would cause otherwise menopausal women to menstruate, but the benefits could outweigh that inconvenience. I'm not sure where technology stands on being able to create such a bacteria, though.
lyrl, Jan 06 2004

       We can create all sorts of bacteria if we stop washing our hands. I'll start now.
Overpanic, Jan 06 2004

       I have the solution, but I'm afraid to say it. Nope, it would be wrong. Nah gunna do it. Ok, nevermind, I'm gonna say it... I swear I am. Human caviar. There. I said it.
eyeguy, Jan 26 2004

       <What if all of those 100 eggs got fertilized at once???>   

ye_river_xiv, Jul 11 2006


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