By Yogesh Makanji
In an Australian first, Monash IVF specialists reported achieving pregnancy in a 43-year-old woman after transplanting her cryopreserved ovarian tissue. Professor Gab Kovacs, Director of Monash IVF, Melbourne Australia, reported that his team had restored fertility in a woman by transplanting her cryopreserved ovarian tissue, following which she resumed natural ovulation and was six weeks pregnant. In 2005, this woman had ovarian tissue cryopreserved prior to commencing breast cancer treatment. If successful pregnancy ensues then in another Australian first, this would be the first Australian baby born from transplanted ovarian tissue and 20th in the world. In light of their success, Professor Kovacs went on further to recommend ovarian tissue cryopreservation as a reliable, cheaper and easier method of preserving fertility of cancer patients; compared to cryopreserving eggs or embryos.
Adding to the commentary, Dr. Lyndon Hale, Medical director of Melbourne IVF Clinic, Australia reported that they had successfully transplanted ovarian tissue in patients and only one had become pregnant. However, she had subsequently miscarried. Dr. Hale also sees the benefits of this technique for preserving fertility of cancer patients.
Another trend emerging from this article is the use of cryopreserved ovarian tissue as a way of preserving a women’s fertility indefinitely. In addition, it has been suggested that ovarian tissue transplant in peri-menopausal women may delay or offset symptoms associated with menopause; hot flashes, osteoporosis, weight gain, etc. Neither Professor Kovacs nor Dr. Hale is advocating the use of ovarian tissue transplant for this purpose. Hormone replacement therapies are available to alleviate some of these menopausal symptoms.
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is providing many young cancer patients the opportunity to preserve their fertility. Chemo and radiotherapy may adversely affect a women’s future fertility. Thereby, cryopreservation of ovarian tissue prior to cancer treatment protects a women’s future fertility.