• Question: What is the most unexpected thing that you have learnt about the human body?

    Asked by anisha1012 to Kate, Emily on 23 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by jbarham08.
    • Photo: Kate Clancy

      Kate Clancy answered on 23 Jun 2011:

      What a neat question, Anisha, thanks! My research is in women’s health, and I particularly study the hormones of the ovary, and how the uterus, or womb, works. There are two things we’ve always thought were true about women’s health that research by me and others has found isn’t exactly the case.

      The first is that we used to think that the way our eggs grow before they are ovulated is one at a time. That is, a bunch of eggs all kinda start growing, then one wins the race, is ovulated, and then is available in your womb in case you want to get pregnant. But it turns out some friends of mine have found that instead of one big race, the eggs enter into two to three races during your cycle, and it’s only the last one where one wins. This is a big deal because it changes how we understand how eggs work and function, and it means we are more like other animals than we thought, like horses, who were already knew did the multiple-race thing.

      The other unexpected thing, and this one is from my research, is that the lining of the uterus can change its thickness. It used to be that everyone thought the lining of the uterus didn’t do anything through the second half of the cycle, and I was able to show that the lining of the uterus in fact changes quite a bit, depending on your environment.

      My hope is that both of these findings will help us better treat women who are infertile.