Freeze your ovaries for the future

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Women can now potentially extend their fertile years (and stave off menopause) by undergoing ovarian grafts or transplants, according to the Daily Mail. Dr. Sherman Silber, the top surgeon who, in 2007 transplanted the ovary of one twin into her infertile sister, insists that this breakthrough procedure has huge potential for social benefits, including allowing career women to hold off from having babies for longer.

Ovarian tissue/ovary transplants are already used to preserve the ovaries of those about to undergo cancer treatment, as the drugs used to treat cancer may destroy the ovaries- slices of tissue are taken in advance, frozen, and then thawed and re-implanted once the woman is ready to have children.

22 women have given birth after having their ovarian tissue restored. The latest success was achieved in Italy seven years after a 21-year-old woman had ovarian tissue frozen before cancer treatment.

The treatment has been proven to be effective on fresh tissue as well as tissue which has been frozen and thawed.  In the case of Silber’s procedures, the tissue was mostly donated by relatives.

Driving back menopause

In 2008 he predicted that women who had an ovary frozen in their 20s could look forward to the best of all worlds.

‘A young ovary can be transplanted back at any time and it will extend fertility and delay the menopause. You could even wait until you were 47,’ he said.

Now he’s using successful ovarian grafts as proof that fertility may be extended, suggesting that ovarian transplants will, in the future, be an effective means of delaying menopause and treating its symptoms.

Ethical issues?

The medical fraternity is divided over his suggestion that ovarian grafts or transplants should be used for social reasons such choosing to delay pregnancy, as the technology was developed specifically for cancer patients.

Who do you think should benefit from ovarian grafts or transplants?

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