By Sola Ogundipe
Good news for women who never liked getting old. Now they can actually delay the menopause for any reason, by up to 20 years thanks to a new medical procedure launched by the inventor of IVF.
A clinic based out of the United Kingdom is offering the procedure which, although not a new procedure, is being used for the first time to delay menopause.
This novel procedure could benefit millions of women who experience serious health problems brought on by the menopause, including heart conditions and osteoporosis (bone loss).
Specialists also believe the same procedure could help to improve the lives of millions more women by delaying the onset of more common symptoms of the menopause, which range from hot flushes and memory problems to anxiety and a reduced libido.
There are snags however. The procedure is expensive, starting from around £7,000 (N2.6 million), and experts warn that delaying menopause can have its own issues, including increased risk of breast cancer.
The procedure is being offered to women up to the age of 40 through a UK company called ProFam (Protecting Fertility and Menopause).
Experts say the procedure has potential to be of significant benefit to any woman who may want to delay the menopause or those women who would have taken HRT, and there are lots of benefits around this.
The 30-minute operation involves keyhole surgery to remove a small piece of ovarian tissue, which is then sliced up and frozen to preserve it.
When a woman enters the menopause the frozen tissue is then thawed out and grafted back into the body.
Provided the ovarian tissue survives the process, it should restore the woman’s declining sex hormones and delay the menopause.
One of the first patients, a 34-year-old married mother-of-one who said she wanted to avoid having to take Hormone Replacement therapy, HRT in the future, noted: “I have to say I’ve never felt any pain, and it seems quite miraculous that it’s something so straightforward.”
How much the new procedure will delay the menopause depends on the age when the tissue is taken and when it is put back.
For example, tissue taken from a 25-year-old might postpone the menopause for 20 years, while tissue taken from a 40-year-old could delay its onset for five years.
While many will benefit from hormone replacement therapy, it may not suit everyone.
More research needs to be done to assess the safety of the technique.
According to the British Medical Society, the report explores a potentially promising concept for women at risk of medically or surgically induced menopause.
It notes however, that when it comes to considering this in the context of delaying the menopause, further evaluation is needed to assess the safety of this technique, its effectiveness and the length of time such re-implanted tissue continues to function.
“Such assessment should also include a benefit/risk analysis particularly when applied in otherwise healthy women.”
Menopause is a natural process, and experts point out there can be potential complications if it’s artificially delayed. It isn’t necessarily a damaging health condition that needs to be treated like a disease.