Around age 33, that biological clock I had heard about my entire life started ticking. I was in a pretty awful relationship that was heading full-speed to nowhere while living and working in Los Angeles, with no babies in sight. Friends and family kept asking me that dreaded and somewhat loaded question: “Do you want children?” My mother even started saying things like, “I’m beginning to accept the reality that I will never have grandchildren.” Ouch.
In retrospect, I had many fertile years ahead of me, but as I knew several people who had struggled with infertility and a few who were surprised with early menopause, I was worried. I knew my eggs had an expiration date and was jarred by the possibility that my body could epically fail me.
However, the pressures many of us face to have children before menopause hits may ease up a bit, with some exciting news on fertility.
In a new article published in the New Scientist on Wednesday, scientists claim to have reversed the process of menopause, restoring periods and producing fertile eggs by rejuvenating the post-menopausal ovaries.
The team, which presented some of their findings at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology earlier this month, claims that its “technique” has actually restarted periods in women who have already gone through menopause — including a woman in her mid-forties who had not menstruated in five years. Six months after undergoing the process – which injects a blood treatment into the ovaries that helps wounds heal faster called platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – her period resumed. Since then, the team of scientists has collected three eggs from her and successfully fertilized two with her husband’s sperm.
“It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material,” explains Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.
However, Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK points out that this new treatment may stir up a little controversy. “It is potentially quite exciting,” he says. “But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.”
The team claims the treatment, which has been tested on 30 women between the ages of 46 and 49, has worked for around two-thirds of cases, but the eggs collected and fertilized have not yet been implanted, which should happen in the next few months.
While it’s too early to know for sure if this method will make its way into mainstream fertility practices, as the team has yet to publish their results and testing is still going on, the prospect is definitely a game changer for women around the world.More On