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Women able to delay motherhood through ovary freezing


Photo: PA

Photo: PA

Photo: PA

Those in their twenties and early thirties will be able to "bank" their ovarian tissue when it is most fertile, and have it re-implanted years later.

The procedure, which could cost as much as £16,000 (€19,500) , is expected to be available within the next six months. At present only a few countries, including the United States, Denmark and Belgium, offer the option. To date, 19 babies have been born as a result.

Yesterday, experts said the controversial treatment will soon become commonplace as it has been shown to be more effective than egg freezing and even IVF.

It involves extracting about a third of the tissue of one of the two ovaries which usually contains around 60,000 eggs.

It is stored in liquid nitrogen in temperatures of minus 190c until the woman decides she is ready for children, when it is thawed and re-inserted into the ovary. Within a few months it should begin producing eggs.

So far most of the women who have had the treatment have been cancer patients hoping to preserve their ovarian tissue in case it is damaged through chemotherapy.

But British doctors are planning to offer the procedure to other women who may want to put off having children for other reasons.

Costs are likely to range from £5,000 (€6000) to £10,000 (€12,000) to remove and store the tissue with another £6,000 (€7000) to re-implant it. This compares with £4,000(€4, 800) for a cycle of IVF and £5,000 (€6000) for egg freezing plus £100 (€121) for every year eggs are stored.

Experts say the ovarian tissue method is far more successful as it can potentially yield thousands of eggs against a maximum of 12 normally produced through egg freezing.

Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, a leading consultant in infertility and gynaecology, is planning to open a clinic in central London offering the treatment by the end of this year.

He said: “This technology is so much more efficient than we thought it would be.Women in their late twenties might consider freezing their eggs until they meet Mr Right.”

Once Dr Grudzinskas’s licence is approved by the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority, British doctors will carry out the first operations under the supervision of a team from Denmark.

Some doctors believe that having the tissue removed early in life could impair a woman’s chance of having a baby.

Dr Gillian Lockwood of Midland Fertility Services, near Walsall, said: “In the case of cancer patients who’ve got nothing to lose it has great potential.

“But for social reasons I don’t believe it should be recommended. It could cause scarring or damage to the pelvis that could make it difficult to conceive naturally.”