This is a revolutionary procedure, which takes about 30 minutes and is performed with minimally invasive keyhole surgery. The procedure is being offered from a Birmingham-based company ProFaM and is being co-funded by four world-renowned experts in reproductive medicine.
The first surgery of its kind in the world, the procedure removes a small piece of the ovary which is then prepared at their Birmingham-based lab. It can then either be immediately transplanted back to prevent premature menopause or uses Cryopreservation to preserve the tissue for later use when menopause symptoms occur.
The surgery was created to postpone menopause which can trigger serious health problems for thousands of women, including osteoporosis and heart problems.
However, it can also extend women’s fertility and could feasibly enable a woman in her seventies to have babies - although Professor Simon Fishel, world-renowned expert in IVF, said this would not be allowed for safety and ethical reasons.
Professor Fishel, chief executive and co-founder of ProFaM, is also the IVF pioneer whose ground-breaking work led to the birth of Natalie Brown, sister of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown. He said: ‘Women are living longer than at any time in human history. It’s quite likely that many women will be in the menopause for longer than their fertile period. We are empowering women to take control of their own health by naturally delaying their menopause.’ The procedure costs between £3,000 and £7,000. Professor Fishel added: ‘We are at a fascinating point in the evolution of our species, but particularly in relation to medical care where remarkable things are happening. Now we can start to offer something to a younger generation of women that’s never been available before.
Professor Fishel told The Telegraph: “One of the reasons for the rising infertility rates is that women are not thinking about having babies until their 30s. If this procedure allows women to nail a career and feel that burden taken off their shoulders, and if by 40 they still want a baby but are not able to have their own naturally, they can go back to their tissue which they froze at 30.
“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.”
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 will 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.
One of the patients, a 34-year-old married mother-of-one who said she wanted to avoid having to take HRT in the future, told The Sunday Times: "I have to say I've never felt any pain, and it seems quite miraculous that it's something so straightforward."
The main symptom of early menopause is periods becoming infrequent or stopping altogether without any other reason (such as pregnancy).
Some women may also get other typical menopausal symptoms, including:
vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
reduced sex drive (libido) problems with memory and concentration
Read more about managing menopause symptoms