Baby hope after early menopause: Woman successfully gives birth after medics use pioneering technique to ‘wake up’ her ovaries
- Doctors in Spain reported the birth of a girl to a mother, 38, with the condition
- Procedure, which takes stem cells from bone marrow, gives hope to thousands
- Around 1% of women in the UK suffer from so-called ‘premature ovarian failure’
A woman who went through early menopause has successfully given birth after using a pioneering technique to reawaken her ovaries.
The procedure, which takes stem cells from bone marrow, gives hope to thousands of women who would otherwise have to use an egg donor in IVF.
Around one per cent of women in the UK suffer from so-called ‘premature ovarian failure’.
A woman who went through early menopause has successfully given birth after using a pioneering technique to reawaken her ovaries (stock image)
Doctors in Spain have reported the birth of a girl to a 38-year-old mother with the condition using one of her own eggs.
They used a technique known as Ascot (autologous stem cell ovarian transplantation), which involves taking medication to encourage the bone marrow to produce stem cells.
The cells are then extracted and delivered via the artery to the failing ovary.
They used a technique known as Ascot (autologous stem cell ovarian transplantation), which involves taking medication to encourage the bone marrow to produce stem cells (stock image)
In the experimental procedure the ovary was encouraged to grow and release eggs which could be harvested, fertilised and reimplanted in the womb.
The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that she had experienced months with no periods but a pregnancy test was negative.
She said: ‘I decided then to visit a gynaecologist. He did a medical examination and told me my ovaries had stopped.’
Two gynaecologists told her that using a donor egg was her only option to get pregnant but she said: ‘I wanted to try everything before opting for it.’
She came across the Ascot technique being offered as part of a clinical trial by the IVI chain of fertility clinics and was accepted as a research participant.
After the stem cells were introduced, doctors checked for a response every two weeks. They were eventually able to harvest eggs, resulting in a healthy pregnancy.
Nuria Pellicer, a gynaecologist at the Hospital la Fe in Valencia, said the patient had ‘almost no chance of successful pregnancy with classic in vitro fertilisation procedures’.
She said: ‘We aim to develop a technique that is as minimally invasive as possible over time and standardise it so that it can be implemented in all our clinics.’
Two gynaecologists told her that using a donor egg was her only option to get pregnant but she said: ‘I wanted to try everything before opting for it’ (stock image)
Dr Cesar Diaz-Garcia, medical director of IVI London, said: ‘We are truly excited by these very promising results achieving ovary re-awakening and pregnancy using stem cells in a woman who previously may not have had the option to conceive using her own eggs.’
But Geeta Nargund, medical director at IVF clinic Create Fertility, said that while the results were encouraging, further research was needed.
She said: ‘It is well known in this group of patients that “ovarian awakening” can occur spontaneously for brief periods.
‘Therefore an age-matched control group is essential before too many conclusions can be drawn.’
The case was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual meeting in July
What is the menopause?
The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is unable to get pregnant naturally.
It is a natural part of ageing that typically occurs in women between the age of 45 and 55 years of age, as oestrogen levels decline.
In the UK, the average age for menopause to start is 51 however one in 100 women experience it before 40, which is known as premature menopause.
Symptoms can be severe and have an impact on a woman’s everyday life.
These include hot flushes, sweating, low mood, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping along with concentration and memory problems.
Such symptoms can begin months or even years before a last period and continue for another four years with some women experiencing them for much longer.
Lifestyle changes and treatments include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and eating a healthy balanced diet with regular exercise.