Doctors have devised a new procedure that would delay menopause for up to 20 years by “tricking women’s biological clocks,” and ultimately delay symptoms that often strikes women negatively.
The revolutionary procedure is led by Professor Simon Fishel who is popularly known to have also been the IVF pioneer whose groundbreaking work led to the birth of Natalie Brown, sister of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown.
“Women are living longer than at any time in human history,” Fishel says. “It’s quite likely that many women will be in the menopause for longer than their fertile period.”
Furthermore, he encourages women to have the procedure since it’s truly a safe and effective way of delaying menopause. “We are empowering women to take control of their health by naturally delaying their menopause,” he said.
In his new venture, Fishel explains that the procedure will trick the body to think that they are “much younger than they are.”
Primarily, it will involve Fishel and his team to remove a piece from an ovary and freeze that tissue at -150C. By doing so, the ovary will literally be frozen in time and be preserved until it can serve its purpose.
Women as young as 20 can have this initial procedure in anticipation of menopause and can go as old as 40 years old.
Until early signs of menopause, the ovarian tissue is held in an ice bank before being thawed and transplanted back into them, where it will “kickstart their natural hormones, delaying the menopause.”
The procedure can help mitigate issues such as POI (primary ovarian insufficiency), or premature menopause, which is the loss of function of the ovaries before the age of 40.
Approximately one in every 100 women under the age of 40 and one in 1,000 under the age of 30 are affected by premature menopause.
Symptoms are similar to traditional menopause such as hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, low mood or anxiety, reduced libido, and problems with memory and concentration.
Ultimately, having the procedure can prevent women from experiencing increased risks of osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes brought on by premature menopause.
Meanwhile, another thing Fishel pointed out about the benefits of the procedure is to alleviate the pressures of a woman to bear a child.
Notably, doctors recommend that it’s healthier for both the mother and the child if it is conceived at an earlier age. However, taking care of the child most likely hinders a woman’s capability to focus and develop her career.
By undergoing Fishel’s procedure, women can potentially be alleviated by that stress through the removal of a piece of her ovary in her younger years and have it placed back when she’s older and has her career well-placed to take care of a child.
“Using that tissue from when they were 30 means it’s not considered that they’re having a baby at an older age because the egg will be from 10 years earlier,” says Fishel.
He added that his youngest daughter is 22 and that the procedure “currently appeals to her,” so when she is aged between 25 and 30, he said that he would perform it on her as a “birthday present.”
“The younger it’s done, the longer you have the benefit, and the more eggs are available,” he said.
Furthermore, Fishel even says that women can go as old as 40 to decide if they want or still want to have kids.
Doctors, however, say that a woman bearing a child in her older years is not a possibility due to health and ethical reasons, and insist on postponing the menopause rather than allow them to conceive when they are older.
The upper age limits are 35 for freezing tissue for fertility preservation and 40 for freezing tissue for hormonal preservation.
Momentarily, there have been nine British women aged between 22 and 36 that had undergone surgery.
One of the patients, a 34-year-old married mother-of-one said: “I have to say I’ve never felt any pain, and it seems quite miraculous that it’s something so straightforward.”
Dixie-Louise Dexter, who previously had the procedure at the same time she underwent a hysterectomy because of endometriosis, had her ovarian tissue transplanted back inside her to prevent premature menopause.
“Being able to delay the menopause has been life-changing,” she said.
The surgery is available at a Birmingham based company called ProFaM, which Fisher is the chief executive and co-founder, and is being co-funded by four world-renowned experts in reproductive medicine. The procedure costs between £3,000 and £7,000.
“We are at a fascinating point in the evolution of our species, but particularly [about] medical care where remarkable things are happening,” Fishel says.
“Now we can start to offer something to a younger generation of women that’s never been available before.”