The breakthrough by a joint Anglo-American team, led by Professor Roger Gosden, of Leeds University, was made when the team were able to graft an ovary onto the pelvic wall of a 30-year-old American dancer suffering from early menopause. The ovary was stimulated with hormones and an egg produced in what is being hailed as a medical milestone.
The success of the operation raises the prospect of extending fertility for women into their seventies, new treatment of sterility caused by premature menopause and the possibility of the creation of "ovary banks" where women can store ovaries during cancer treatment to protect their fertility.
One area likely to be affected by the new technique is ageing in menopausal women. The grafts open up the possibility of a safer alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
The details and implications of the procedure are to be unveiled later this week at the American Society for Reproductive medicine in Toronto.