Ovarian tissue transplantation is gaining ground for fertility preservation in young and old, with potential to offset adverse effects of menopause

MANILA, Philippines, May 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — More than 10,000 women and girls around the world facing urgent treatments for cancers and other serious conditions that threatened their fertility have had their motherhood potential preserved by surgical removal and freezing of ovarian tissue.


ASPIRE 2024 Congress Logo (PRNewsfoto/Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction)

Once the ovarian tissue is thawed and transplanted back into the body, organ function is regained including follicular growth, egg release, hormone secretion and menstrual cycles.

Over 90 per cent of women who have undergone this procedure have regained endocrine function and reproductive capacity, and more than 250 children have been born as a result.

Professor Claus Andersen, a global pioneer in the freeze preservation of human ovarian and testicular tissue, said this form of fertility preservation was gaining ground as an established method for girls and women at risk of losing their fertility because of cancer and other diseases, or the potential toxic effects of treatment on their ovaries.

“The procedure involves surgical removal of ovarian tissue from which the ovarian cortex with its content of non-growing follicles is isolated and frozen,” he explained. “The functional unit of the ovary is preserved and upon transplantation organ function is re-established to regain fertility and menstrual cycles.”

A keynote speaker at the 2024 Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE) in Manila, Professor Andersen said the procedure pre-treatment for cancer or other diseases that may risk destroying ovarian follicles, was the only option for pre-pubertal girls to maintain their fertility into adulthood.

“It is now clear that tissue frozen prior to puberty undertakes ovarian function and supports fertility once transplanted, he added.

“The risk of transplanting the original disease appears to be low and there have been no reports of relapses caused by transplanted ovarian tissue.

“The potential is also being evaluated for ovarian tissue freezing and transplantation to preserve fertility in conditions including endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).”

Professor Andersen, former head of the Laboratory of Human Reproductive Physiology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, said the procedure also opened potential new frontiers in maintaining sex steroid function to delay or completely offset common adverse physical and psychological effects of menopause, including hot flashes, moodiness, and other unpleasant symptoms.

“If ovarian tissue is extracted and freeze stored in reproductive active years it will become active once transplanted irrespective of the age of the woman,” he explained. “It can effectively stop the clock. For example, a woman may be aged 50, but have an ovarian age of 25.

“Therefore, the tissue may be used for fertility preservation later in life. It may provide the option to use the tissue to secure sex-steroid production when normal menopause has started, and thereby avoid some of the sequalae that menopause causes including osteoporosis, cardiovascular and other effects.

“A century ago, life expectancy for women was around 50 years, the age of the onset of menopause for many, but today women on average are expected to at least reach the age of 87.

“For many of these women, it means living with the effects, or after effects of the menopause, for 30 or 40 years.

“Due to the longevity of women nowadays these issues are becoming major health concerns. It would be a matter of individual choice, but the use of one’s own tissue to expand time with functional ovaries is an important aspect to consider.”

The ASPIRE Congress is being held at the Philippine International Convention Centre in Manila. For further information, go to the Congress website www.aspire2024.com 

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SOURCE Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction