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Ovary Transplants Could Beat Menopause
Ovary transplants could delay the menopause indefinitely, allowing women to have a normal pregnancy whenever they choose, according to doctors.
Fertility experts told a conference in Istanbul that women could have ovarian tissue removed and deep frozen while in their twenties, and then have small sections re-implanted every decade to hold off the menopause.
Dr Sherman Silber and colleagues from St Louis in the US presented details of their research at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting.
"Most of our cured cancer patients who have young ovarian tissue frozen feel almost grateful they had cancer, because otherwise they would share this same fear all modern, liberated women have about their 'biological clock'," they wrote.
Statistics show women are delaying childbirth, often because they do not want to interrupt a career, are not ready to settle down with a partner or don't feel they have the financial security to start a family.
Dr Silber's team reported that one of their patients had had a baby after tissue was frozen for 12 years.
Dr Gianluca Gennarelli from Turin has also carried out ovarian transplants on cancer patients.
He told the conference that results show it is safe and effective.
He said the technique "should not be considered experimental but recognised as a routine clinical practice to be offered in appropriate cases".
Growing confidence is likely to lead to more women being offered tissue storage before undergoing cancer treatment, or if they are at risk of an early menopause in their twenties or thirties.
IVF pioneer Lord Robert Winston told Sky News: "I think this is a highly dangerous procedure.
"We know from research that we have done at the Genesis Research Trust at Imperial College that eggs are held in clusters in the ovary.
"If you remove one of the clusters you may damage a woman's fertility very seriously and make her menopausal prematurely."
Ovarian transplants would also alter the hormonal balance in older women, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, but increasing the chances of breast and womb cancer.