Scientists Discover a Way to Reverse Menopause

Friday, 22 July 2016

A team of scientists may have discovered a method to reverse menopause by rejuvenating post-menopausal ovaries, which enables them to release fertile eggs. Could this mean that menopause doesn’t spell the end of fertility?

According to the team, the technique has revived periods in women going through menopause, including one who had not had a period in five years. This technique could allow women with early menopause to conceive, help prevent health conditions associated with menopause and boost declining fertility in older women, if the results continue after further scrutiny.

Gynaecologist at Genesis Athens, Greece, Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, said that it provides hope that women going through menopause could get pregnant with their own genetic material

It is thought that women are born with all of their eggs and that this number dwindles between puberty and menopause, with fertility peaking in the early 20s. Menopause usually occurs at around 50 and it is at about this age when the ovaries cease releasing eggs. However, by this point most women are largely infertile because ovulation becomes less frequent as menopause gets closer. According to Sfakianoudis, the menopause comes all too quickly.

Roger Sturmey from Hull York Medical School said that though the findings of this study are potentially exciting, the theory does point to ethical questions over what the age limit should be for mothers.

The age for motherhood is beginning to creep up and an increasing number of women are giving birth in their 40s. But as more women delay getting pregnant, there are still many who struggle to conceive. An increasing number of women hoping to get pregnant at a higher age are turning to egg freezing and IVF.

Also, for around 1 percent of women, the menopause can come before the age of 40, for example due to certain cancer treatments or because of medical conditions. In this case, Sfakianoudis and his co-workers have looked into a blood treatment used to accelerate wound healing.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is made by centrifuging a blood sample to isolate molecules that start the growth of blood vessels and tissue. It is usually used to quicken the repair of damaged muscles and bones, but it is unclear how effective it is. It could work through stimulation of tissue regeneration.

The team discovered that PRP seems to rejuvenate older ovaries too. When PRP was injected into the ovaries of menopausal women, the scientists said it re-started their menstruation cycles, enabling them to fertilise the released eggs.

Sfakianoudis had a patient whose menopause began at the age of 40, five years ago. He said that after just six months following the treatment, she had her first period since the menopause. Since then, the team has collected three eggs from the lady. They said that two eggs have been fertilised successfully using her husband’s sperm. The team are now waiting until a minimum of three are fertilised before implantation.