You may have seen in the news recently claims that a new procedure could help millions of women suffering from symptoms of the menopause to be delayed by freezing parts of ovarian tissue from when you are a young woman and then re-implanting it later in life. Nope? Well, it’s been everywhere from the BBC to the Guardian to the Express. Google it.
The idea is this would encourage her body to make the ‘young’ hormones which are usually stopped by the body as you get older (Hence all the side effects- see our menopause page for more info). The tissues are gained during a laparoscopy under general anaesthetic.
First off this is not new. This procedure has been used for many years to assist young women undergoing cancer treatments to retain their fertility. Over 100 children have been born as a consequence of this treatment and these kinds of ‘grafts’ are considered to be mostly successful.
So why all the big fuss now? Well, it makes great headlines and ticks boxes for covering ‘women’s issues’ (all good frankly in my books), but the BMS (British Menopause Society) did feel there were a number of issues which needed to be ironed out (understatement) before this could be used reliably in clinical practise for women in the UK.
The sample size from the study was only 9 women. This isn’t really enough (by a LOOOONG way) to give an idea of any side effects or long term reporting of any issues other than ‘it worked’. While the figure of 20 years is being floated out there is no evidence to suggest this is an accurate time scale due to lack of long term study (they go on to explain that in infertility implanted samples do not always go on to function successfully long term) and the procedure involved general anaesthetic and usual surgical risks which, as always, is never the preferred option.
Lots of things there that make me think this is not going to be something that will be turned to to stop the every day hot flushes and apparently ‘livable’ misery most women endure anytime soon.
There is also a theoretical increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer which comes with prolonging the menopause and the fact that contraception will need to be used for a longer time.
They then go on to basically say ‘do more research in properly conducted clinical trials and maybe it might just work in the worst cases’. Benefit vs risk basically.
So hold onto your hats ladies. I don’t think ’the change’ will be leaving us anytime soon via this ‘miracle cure’ whatever the media says.