A woman in menopause has given birth following an experimental blood procedure, indicating a possible method for re-inducing fertility in menopausal women.
The small pilot study, conducted at the Genesis Athens Fertility Clinic in Greece between 2017 and 2019, involved injecting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into the ovaries of 30 menopausal volunteers, who had not had their period in over a year. In addition to the woman who became pregnant, twelve others had their periods restored.
Dr Konstantinos Pantos, the fertility specialist who led the study, has been offering PRP treatment privately for the past five years. He told New Scientist, 'we have treated several hundred women' who were looking either to conceive or reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause is when women have stopped having periods, meaning that they will no longer be able to conceive naturally. It is caused when oestrogen levels drop, generally between the ages of 45 and 55. The transition between having a monthly cycle and having no cycle is known as perimenopause.
It is hoped that this treatment will not only help those experiencing menopause to have children but will also reduce symptoms of menopause and restore normal hormone patterns.
The treatment involves extracting the patient's blood and then removing red and white blood cells, leaving the PRP which is then injected into both ovaries. PRP contains platelets, which are cell fragments involved in blood clotting and tissue regeneration.
This PRP injection was also given to 30 perimenopausal women, of whom 80 percent showed improvements in hormone levels and return to a regular period cycle, with four of the 30 women becoming pregnant and three going on to have babies. The women did not have to be trying to conceive to take part in the study.
It is still unclear if PRP improves fertility, as it was not tested against a placebo. However, according to Professor Scott Nelson from the University of Glasgow, 'the four cases [of perimenopausal women conceiving] would be higher than expected.'
Further research is being conducted in order to confirm PRP as a viable fertility treatment. Professor Pantos is overseeing four randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials, with another two trials being run by Professor Emre Seli at Yale School of Medicine.
'I can't tell you 100 percent that this is going to be a super useful intervention,' said Professor Seli. 'But I find it very exciting.'