Transplant study offers baby hope
Women may be able to halt the menopause and preserve their fertility after doctors proved ovary transplants remain effective for at least seven years.
Ovarian tissue transplants would allow women more choice about when to have children and would offer hope to those who believe they would never be able to conceive. Three women, who have already received transplants, have given birth to seven children, with one expecting another baby soon.
One had leukaemia and became infertile after treatment, while another began menopause at the age of 22. After having her tissue transplanted at the age of 38, she is about to have her third child.
Stinne Holm Bergholt, from Denmark, was diagnosed with bone cancer and became infertile after chemotherapy. Before undergoing treatment she had one of her ovaries removed and after having tissue transplanted she now has three children.
While two of the women had their own tissue retrieved, stored and later transplanted, the other received tissue from her twin sister. Doctors hope that one day soon, healthy women will be able to choose to have their ovarian tissue stored so they can have it transplanted later in life as and when it is needed.
Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, a consultant gynaecologist based in London's Harley Street, said this would work as "insurance for fertility purposes".
He said: "A 25-year-old could have a piece of her ovary taken away and frozen and if she wants to use it later, like to have children at the age of 38, her ovary is only 25 years old. That piece of tissue has a much longer life span that it had before.
"Or at the age of 50 you could have horrific menopausal symptoms so you could put the ovarian tissue back and it would be like HRT but made up of your own hormones and that tissue will continue to function for many years.
"Over seven years (after transplants) three woman have had children. It is like insurance for fertility purposes but unlike freezing eggs, it is useful for more than that. The better the care for reproductive health, the more choices there are."
Evidence of these successes will soon be published in the medical journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online and Dr Grudzinskas said he hopes the treatment will be available in the UK within a year, after being successfully performed in Denmark and the USA.