Ovarian Tissue Transfer
Ovarian tissue transfer, a new and cutting edge method of fertility preservation, has recently been making waves in the news. As an alternative to many fertility care options like traditional, minimal stimulation, and natural IVF, women who hope to extend their ability to have kids to later in life can now freeze sections of their ovarian tissue as a way to effectively stop their biological clock for use at a later time.
The procedure, which is still quite new, is extremely promising. 20 babies have already been delivered from women who have chosen to freeze their ovarian tissue, and world renowned fertility specialist Dr. Sherman Silber, who is both championing and pioneering this innovation in fertility care, has already preserved the tissue for over 60 women for whom IVF was not an option.
In a prior post, we talk about some of the major reasons why women would want to extend their fertility (link to old post: http://www.newhopefertilityblog.com/archives/89). Three types of women who may want to preserve their fertility are:
1) Women who have been diagnosed with a medical condition that necessitates the removal of their ovaries or who are undergoing some kind of medical treatment, like chemotherapy, that may damage their reproductive system.
2) Women who are in the later half of their middle reproductive years (33-38) who want to defer childbearing either because it is not the right time in their life or they are still looking for a partner.
3) Women who wish to donate their eggs and don’t want to go through all the hormone therapy needed to sync their cycle with the recipients’ cycles before transfer – and conversely, egg donation recipients who will, with time, be exposed to a much larger pool of donors to choose from.
Amy Tucker who underwent chemo-therapy to battle cancer is one such woman who has benefitted from Ovarian Tissue Transfer. The treatment allowed her to defy a reality that she would have faced in the past and she was the first cancer patient in the US who has been able to give birth with her own ovarian tissue. Her son was born in May 2010.
There is, of course, skepticism push back on the idea of Ovarian Tissue transfer – but skepticism and push back seem to often follow innovation and paradigm shifts. Once upon a time people resisted the idea of IVF, dehumanizing and science-fictionalizing it with phrases like “test tube babies,” and yet now it is a commonplace procedure for both women and couples who wish to treat their infertility. We have no reason to believe that with time no one will think twice about freezing their ovarian tissue as a way to preserve their fertility, and we look forward to the day when these scientific advances have paved the path to new, more advanced treatments that can seize the attention of skeptics.