Fertility Forever or False Hopes?

Women cannot outrun menopause forever

There has recently been a rash of articles in the media about techniques that can prevent a women’s menopause. These stories suggest that a woman’s fertility can be preserved to any age or that fertility can be returned after a woman has entered menopause.

In recent years, there have been great advances in ovarian tissue and egg freezing. This allows portions of a woman’s ovaries to be frozen and later transplanted back into a woman’s body. In a small number of cases, this has resulted in the conception of a child. Ovarian tissue freezing and transplantation remain experimental.

The ability to freeze eggs has improved markedly in the last five years. It now is very common to offer egg freezing to a woman before she undergoes a procedure that will adversely affect her future fertility, such as ovarian surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Successful pregnancies after these treatments are becoming more common.

Ovarian tissue or egg freezing, however, require that the ovaries have good fertility potential at the time the procedure is done. If a woman already has poor fertility due to ovarian aging or therapy to the ovary, these procedures are not effective. The procedures PRESERVE the POSSIBILITY of fertility; they do not restore fertility to someone who is clearly approaching menopause.

These procedures can be expensive, time consuming and are not always successful. The availability of egg or ovarian freezing should never influence someone to delay conceiving. For someone who would otherwise be at risk to lose her fertility potential, they offer great hope.