Women warned against new ‘menopause delay’ procedure

Sabrina Barr

A medical expert has warned against a new procedure that can supposedly enable women to postpone their menopause for over a decade.

The procedure has been developed by a Birmingham-based fertility company called ProFam.

According to the organisation, undergoing the procedure can increase women’s likelihood of conceiving during a later stage of life, in addition to reducing their chances of developing menopause-related health issues.

However, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Melanie Davies has warned that healthy women who elect to go through with the process may end up having a medical procedure “that would not otherwise be needed”.

On the ProFam website, it states that the “menopause delay” procedure involves “the surgical removal of a small portion of one of [the] ovaries”.

“This small amount of tissue is then processed in a specialised, high-tech facility to make tiny strips of only a few millimetres. These strips can be frozen (cryopreserved) for use later in life,” the description outlines.

“The strips, once thawed, even decades later, can provide eggs for fertility or for the natural production of necessary hormones to postpone the menopause.”

According to a report published by BBC’s Today and the Victoria Derbyshire programme, nine women have paid at least £6,000 to have the procedure, which is conducted by private doctors.

Professor Simon Fishel, an IVF expert and CEO of ProFam, acknowledged that the process is “experimental”.

Nonetheless, there are female cancer patients who have received similar treatment by doctors in order to preserve their fertility.

Dr Davies, who is chair of Fertility Preservation UK, expressed her concern over “healthy women going through surgery that would not otherwise be needed” so that they can safeguard “future fertility and hormone replacement”.

“We know that fertility can be restored in a proportion of women that have had cancer,” Dr Davies said.

“But no healthy women have gone through this yet and there is no evidence that graft will last more than 10 years. So it will be of limited help for hormone replacement.”

The British Menopause Society’s medical advisory committee, which Dr Davies is a part of, stated that “further assessment and evaluation” is needed to determine how the removal of ovarian tissue affects long-term ovarian function.

The menopause typically affects women who are aged between 45 and 55, the NHS outlines, with common symptoms including hot flushes, vaginal dryness and anxiety.

Symptoms can be relieved through various treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the health service adds.

The Independent has contacted ProFam for comment.

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