Fertility and pregnancy * Women's health

Women to store ovarian tissue for later re-implantation

Women to store ovarian tissue for later re-implantation New method to delay conception available in the UK

The tick tock of women’s biological clocks has been the subject of much discussion, be it around dinner tables, in the consumer press or medical journals.

As women want more control of their fertility and some seek to delay motherhood to accommodate career aspirations or the search for a father, conception among older women is often in the headlines.

And now a new medical procedure is heading to our shores which will allow women to store their ovarian tissue when they are most fertile, so that they can have it re-implanted later when they want to conceive.

The process involves removing a third of the tissue of one of the ovaries — which typically contains about 60,000 eggs - and freezing it in liquid nitrogen until the woman want children. It is then thawed and re-inserted into the ovary.

At present this is only available in the US, Denmark and Belgium. In the UK it may cost up to £16,000. Some say it is more effective than egg freezing or IVF, although so far only 19 babies have been born following the procedure. Others say there is a risk of scaring and damage that make it inappropriate treatment for healthy women.

To date it has been used mainly for women undergoing cancer treatment who hope to preserve their fertility in case their ovarian tissue is damaged by chemotherapy. But now UK doctors are considering extending its use to help women who may be delaying starting a family for other reasons.

Dr Gedis Grudzinskas has applied for a license from the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority to open a clinic in London by the end of the year.

“This technology is so much more efficient than we thought it would be. Women in their late twenties might consider freezing their eggs until they meet Mr. Right,” Dr Grudzinskas told The Daily Telegraph.

This article was published on Mon 16 April 2012

Image © Brian Jackson - Fotolia.com

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