Shared from The Guardian
A medical procedure that aims to allow women to delay the menopause for up to 20 years has been launched by IVF specialists in Britain.
Doctors claim the operation could benefit thousands of women who experience serious health problems, such as heart conditions and bone-weakening osteoporosis, that are brought on by the menopause.
But the specialists believe the same procedure could also improve the lives of millions more women by delaying the onset of more common symptoms of the menopause, which range from low mood, anxiety and difficulty sleeping, to hot flushes, night sweats and a reduced sex drive.
The procedure, which costs between £7,000 and £11,000, is being offered to women up to the age of 40 through ProFam, a Birmingham-based company set up by Simon Fishel, an IVF doctor and president of the UK Care Fertility Group, in collaboration with other specialists.
“This has the potential to be of significant benefit to any woman who may want to delay the menopause for any reason, or those women who would have taken HRT, and there are lots of benefits around that,” Prof Fishel told the Guardian.
Nine women have so far had the procedure to remove and freeze their ovarian tissue with a view to delaying the menopause when they are older. Doctors use keyhole surgery to remove a small piece of ovarian tissue, which is then sliced up and frozen to preserve it.
When the women enter the menopause, potentially decades from now, the frozen tissue can be thawed out and grafted back into the body. To restore falling hormone levels, doctors typically choose a site with a good blood supply, such as the armpit. Provided the ovarian tissue survives the process, it should restore the woman’s declining sex hormones and halt the menopause.
“This is the first project in the world to provide healthy women ovarian tissue cryopreservation purely to delay the menopause,” the company’s chief medical officer, Yousri Afifi, told the Sunday Times.
Doctors already use a similar procedure to protect the fertility of girls and women who are about to have cancer treatment. Before they begin anti-cancer therapy, doctors remove some ovarian tissue and freeze it. If the woman wishes to have children in the future, the tissue is then thawed out and reimplanted next to the fallopian tubes, which pick up the mature eggs that are released by the tissue.