UK researchers have suggested that a discovery on how fertility in cows is affected by common womb infections may shed light on female infertility and even pave the way for a new form of infertility treatment.
Scientists at the Royal Veterinary College, London, found that the cow's immune system may affect stages of the reproductive cycle, suppressing the release of oestrogen and resulting in failure to ovulate.
Their findings are published in the journal Reproduction and lead researcher Professor Martin Sheldon commented: "The emphasis on treating uterine disease has so far always been on clearing infection in the uterus.
"We need to remember that the infection also affects the ovaries and may cause lasting damage. We may need to treat the disease with anti-inflammatory drugs or develop new anti-toxins."
Professor Sheldon noted that bacteria appear to have a long-lasting effect on fertility in cattle, and may do so in humans.
"Our research suggests a mechanism for how this may occur and offers hope for developing new treatments to prevent this from happening," he concluded.