From freezing eggs to ovarian rejuvenation, pregnancy after menopause can be a reality
By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 23, 2023
Mrs Priya (name changed) wanted to conceive, but menopause struck her a decade ago. Her small-sized uterus made it difficult to carry the baby in the womb. That’s why she was put on multiple cycles of estrogen-progesterone hormones, did monthly follow-ups and the size of her uterus was monitored continuously. Fortunately, pregnancy after menopause is possible today, thanks to the introduction of several medical techniques such as freezing eggs or ovarian rejuvenation.
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The reproductive system of a woman at 50 is not similar to that during her 20s and 30s. The normal reproductive period of a woman starts at puberty and ends at menopause. After menopause, women cannot conceive naturally. This is because, with increasing age, the fertility rate and quality and quantity of eggs start declining, resulting in fewer chances to conceive. Menopause can occur at any time between 40-52 years of age, varying from individual to individual.
The basic requirement to get pregnant is to have an egg and sperm. If there are no eggs left in the ovaries, pregnancy is not possible. Menopause occurs when a woman has not bled for the past 12 months. There is a barrier to the biological clock of both men and women. However, these barriers can be overcome with several fertility treatments.
How can one conceive after menopause?
Pregnancy is possible after menopause if the woman chooses to freeze eggs or embryos at a younger age and uses them later to get pregnant. Women can also use donor eggs to conceive. Also, ovarian rejuvenation is another method that is still under experimentation but has already created hype.
Here is an explanation of the different procedures available for women:
1. Egg freezing/embryo freezing
One of the best ways for women to preserve their fertility is egg freezing. Women can freeze their eggs during their 20s or early 30s and use them when they are ready to conceive. The method ensures that the frozen eggs are of good quality and will give higher chances of a successful pregnancy. Embryo freezing is another method in which both egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab, frozen, and then transferred into the woman’s uterus, in the hope of a pregnancy.
Both egg freezing and embryo freezing have proven to be effective in conceiving a baby after menopause.
2. Donor eggs
Women who fail to get pregnant with their eggs can receive eggs from a donor. IVF with donor eggs is highly successful among women, who face premature ovarian failure or fail to freeze eggs at a younger age.
3. Ovarian rejuvenation
This is a newly initiated method in which women’s ovaries are injected with platelet-rich plasma (PRP), prepared from her blood. This is done to stimulate natural hormone production and restore one’s fertility to release new and healthy eggs. However, there is less evidence on whether the procedure is successful or not. Many experts still suggest that the treatment should not be offered in all fertility clinics.
Risks and complications of pregnancy post-menopause
Although pregnancy post-menopause is possible, they come in the high-risk category. Birth defects and genetic issues are low in donor egg pregnancies. However, women are prone to developing health issues and pregnancy-related complications like hypertension and gestational diabetes. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause complications for both mother and the baby. Also, controlling blood sugar is significantly important during this time. There is a higher risk of having a miscarriage and premature birth in the 40s and 50s.
Couples should keep in mind their child’s welfare before conceiving. If women conceive in their 50s, their child is more likely to have older parents at a very early stage of their life. Therefore, ethical issues related to ART should be kept in mind.