A study claims that women should be freezing their ovaries — not their eggs — to protect their fertility.
The study, published in the journal Reproductive Sciences, from New York Medical College found that almost 38 percent of women had a baby after ovarian freezing.
Authors Dr Fernanda Pacheco and Dr Kutluk Oktay explained the effects of ovarian freezing, and the possibility of offering it to healthy women too.
“The procedure is superior to egg freezing as it can also reverse menopause and restore natural fertility. The next frontier is to explore the procedure’s potential in delaying childbearing among healthy women, not just cancer patients,” Dr Pacheco said.
However, freezing ovarian tissue, which is only currently available in Britain for medical reasons, goes much further by offering older women the chance to reverse their menopause and get pregnant naturally without the need for fertility treatment.
This is because frozen ovarian tissue contains immature eggs, which grow into mature eggs when it is replaced in a woman’s body. This restarts her monthly cycle and releases estrogen, allowing her to get pregnant naturally.
However, the technique is only for women left infertile by medical treatment in Britain, mainly cancer patients, although women in the US can pay to have their ovarian tissue frozen simply because they want a baby at an older age.
For this latest study, US researchers examined every case of ovarian tissue freezing recorded between 1999 and October last year, and the ovarian tissue was kept on average for more than two years.
Women up to the age of 40 gave birth to 84 children after 309 freezing procedures, with eight having more than one child using frozen ovarian tissue. Around two out of three women were able to reverse their menopause or restore their reproductive function, and nearly two-thirds were able to conceive naturally only about one third needed IVF.
Nearly 4,000 women afraid of running out of time to have a baby, have their eggs frozen and spend around $10,000-$12,000 in the US, but it means returning to a clinic for IVF, while women who are past the age of menopause need hormone replacement therapy to have a child with their own eggs.
However, the study’s authors said that ‘despite the clinical progress within the past two decades, the procedure still remains in the experimental realm.’ “Now women considering this procedure to preserve fertility and postpone childbearing have more information at their disposal. Given these recent data, ovarian tissue cryopreservation should be considered as a viable option for fertility preservation,” they said.
The first British woman to give birth after having an ovary removed when she was nine, frozen and re-implanted was Moaza Al Matrooshi.
Now, 24 years old, Moaza had her ovarian tissue frozen before chemotherapy to treat a rare blood disorder, and had her baby son last December.