Everything you think you know about menopause could be about to change after a team scientists claimed to have found a way to rejuvenate the ovaries of post-menopausal women.
This method is said to have worked even in a woman who had not menstruated in five years.
The results could be groundbreaking for fertility in older women, allowing those who hit menopause to fall pregnant.
The research throws into question the commonheld notion that women are born with all their eggs, and the number steadily decreases in the years between puberty and menopause.
Here’s a run down of the key facts on fertility. Post continues after video…
Sfakianoudis said menopause was coming too soon for many women, as the age at which people choose to have children crept upward.
Many couples are turning to IVF and egg freezing but continue to struggle to conceive.
The new technique seizes on a widely-used blood treatment called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) that is thought to speed up the healing process of bone and muscle injuries. PRP is made using a person’s own blood and is believed to trigger tissue regeneration.
Sfakianoudis’s team discovered that PRP appeared to restart menopausal women’s menstrual cycles when injected into their ovaries, allowing them to collect and fertilise eggs released.
About 30 women aged 46-49 who want children have been given the treatment. In two-thirds of cases, researchers have successfully isolated and fertilised eggs.
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“I had a patient whose menopause had established five years ago, at the age of 40,” Sfakianoudis said.
He said she had her first period six months after the PRP treatment. Three eggs have now so far been collected from her, and two have been successfully fertilised with her husband’s sperm.
The embryos are now on ice before at least three are implanted in her uterus.
The team hopes to begin implanting embryos in women in the coming months.
Fertility aside, the approach could also be attractive for women who are not trying to get pregnant by possibly boosting youthful hormones and delaying symptoms of menopause.
The findings have yet to be officially published in a medical journal, and concerns have been raised about the safety of the process.
Some suggested the technique should have first been tested on animals and that a lot more research is needed to ensure the eggs are healthy, as well as running random clinical trials.
One London embryologist, Virginia Bolton at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, warned it was dangerous to get excited about something before there was sufficient evidence, particularly when it came to fertility as many people were willing to risk spending their entire life savings to try to conceive.
Hear Julia Morris talk to Mia Freedman about her experience with perimenopause on Mamamia's podcast, no Filter.