Ovarian tissue transplant is a technique where a woman’s ovary is removed, frozen for a period of time, and then later transplanted. The procedure has been shown to preserve fertility in women undergoing cancer treatments.
However, doctors are now saying that ovary transplant can be extended to women who would like to preserve fertility for other reasons.
Data presented at a recent conference report that 28 babies have been born via ovary transplant from either autologous (their own) frozen tissue or from tissue donated from a twin.
These results also point out that ovary transplant can be successfully performed after tissue has been frozen for a number of years. For example, one woman successfully gave birth after her tissue was frozen for 12 years.
The transplants seem to maintain long-term function once transplanted as well; transplants performed 8 years ago are still functioning normally.
Experts suggest that ovary transplant can now be used for women who need to prolong fertility. Women whose mothers go through menopause early are at risk for early menopause. Therefore, ovary cryopreservation and transplant could help them prolong fertility.
One concern of transplanting ovarian tissue post-menopause, is that women will be exposed to a longer time frame of circulating estrogen, leading to higher risks of breast and uterine cancer and increasing the risk for heart disease and osteoporosis.
However, ovary transplant could also be an alternative to hormone replacement therapy to help relieve menopause symptoms.