If your first period signals the official "start" of your usefulness as a baby vessel, then menopause is the long, slow death wail of your fertility. No matter how much money you throw at your uterus, if your ovaries go menopausal it's all systems no on mission pregnancy. Or, at least, it used to be. Everything might be about to change, thanks to new research that's found that by harvesting your ovarian tissue before it goes kaput, freezing it, and then grafting it back onto your ovaries years later it's possible to undo menopause and keep your fertility going for far longer than nature would have allowed. Obviously, that's pretty cool, but it could also change life as we know it. Are visions of 80-year-olds clutching their newborn babies already crowding your head?
These futuristic sounding findings were delivered at a conference held by the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology in Istanbul this week. Doctors made the case that this ovarian tissue transplant should be moved from being an experimental treatment to being a mainstream option for all kinds of patients. Thus far, 28 babies have been born to mothers who received transplanted ovarian tissue and would otherwise have been infertile. Most of the pregnancies occurred naturally, with no IVF involved. While other researchers have been working on hatching eggs from ovarian stem cells in the lab, this kind of direct tissue transplant is a simpler alternative that has the power to extend a woman's own fertile period.