Menopause Can be Reversed, Say Scientists


Women who have gone through the menopause may be able to reverse the process and restart their periods, in a bid to have children much later in life

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Could it be true?  Could we really wave goodbye to those ghastly symptoms of hot flushes and mood swings and prolong fertility? According to scientists, yes we can. 

A team of Greek scientists claim they have reversed menopause and restarted the menstrual cycle in a group of menopausal women, one of which had not menstruated in five years. 

This pivotal research could work wonders for older women – or women who have started the menopause early – who would like to have children, as it means this need not be the end of fertility. 

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'It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material,' Konstantinos Sfakianoudis tells New Scientista gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.

'It is potentially quite exciting,' says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. 'But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.'

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Fertility in women usually peaks in their early 20 twenties, but generally for most women, by 50 the menopause will start to kick in, and the ovaries will stop releasing eggs. Most women are infertile before they reach this point, as ovulation tends to become more infrequent in the lead up to the menopause.

But of course, more and more women are leaving it much later to have children, and if the menopause comes early – in some cases it can begin even before 40 – it can be difficult and troubling for them to come to terms with the fact they might not be able to have children at all. 

But this promising research gives hope to women who have put off motherhood until later in life, as it opens up a window to have children much later. 

In an attempt to turn back the fertility clock for early menopausal women, Konstantinos Sfakianoudis and his research team injected menopausal women's ovaries with platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is widely used to help wounds heal faster.

Mr Sfakianoudis claims after they injected PRP, the menstrual cycles of these menopausal women restarted and they were able to collect and fertilise the eggs that were released.

'I had a patient whose menopause had established five years ago, at the age of 40,' Sfakianoudis toldNew Scientist. Six months after the team injected PRP into her ovaries, she experienced her first period since the menopause kicked in.

Sfakianoudis's team has since been able to collect three eggs from this woman. The researchers say they have successfully fertilised two using her husband's sperm. These embryos are now on ice – the team is waiting until there are at least three before implanting some in her uterus.

But with this, it poses the question: what will be the cut-off age for menopausal women who want to have children? Will women in their 70s be able to restart their periods in a hope to have more kids? 

What age do you deem too old to start having children? 

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