More than a third of women who freeze ovarian tissue go on to have a baby, a study shows.
Its authors say ovary freezing, currently available in Britain only for medical reasons, should now be looked at for healthy women too.
Almost 4000 women, who are afraid of running out of time to have a baby, have opted for egg freezing - at a cost of about £5 000 (R85 000).
It involves returning to a clinic for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), and those who are past the age of menopause need hormone replacement therapy to have a child with their own eggs.
Freezing ovarian tissue goes much further by offering older women the chance to turn back the clock, reverse their menopause and conceive naturally without fertility treatment.
The study by New York Medical College found almost 38% of women had a baby after ovarian freezing. Co-author Dr Fernanda Pacheco said the procedure was superior to egg freezing as it could also reverse menopause and restore natural fertility.
“The next frontier is to explore the procedure’s potential in delaying childbearing among healthy women,” she said.
US researchers examined every case of ovarian tissue freezing between 1999 and October last year.
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.
Almost two out of three women were able to reverse their menopause or restore their reproductive function. Close to two-thirds were able to conceive naturally.
Only about one-third needed IVF. This is because frozen ovarian tissue contains immature eggs, which grow into mature eggs when it is placed in a woman’s body. Ovarian tissue was kept, on average, for just over two years in the cases analysed.
Responding to the findings, Dr Melanie Davies at London’s University College Hospital said the long-term outcomes of tissue freezing “are still not known”, while egg freezing was “proven”.
“Ovarian tissue freezing is not science fiction but it is a long way off for non-medical reasons in Britain,” she added.
“Women considering freezing need to be well informed so they can make informed decisions for themselves.”
In Britain, the technique is available only to women left infertile by medical treatment, mainly cancer patients. - Daily Mail