Ovarian cryopreservation could delay menopause indefinitely

Feb. 27, 2024
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation has been successfully used to maintain fertility in women undergoing treatment for cancer and other chronic illnesses.

A new study led by Yale School of Medicine researchers finds if used in healthy women, ovarian tissue cryopreservation could delay menopause by decades.

The outpatient surgical procedure laparoscopically removes layers of the outer portion of the ovary, which contains hundreds of thousands of dormant, immature eggs. These eggs are specially frozen, then thawed and transplanted back into the patient's body, typically years later.

The team worked on building a model, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, to predict how long the surgery could potentially delay menopause in healthy women under a range of circumstances. The study found that the age at which a woman gets the procedure plays a major role in how long menopause can be delayed. “The younger the person at the age of ovarian tissue freezing, the larger number of eggs she has, and as a result the longer the delay in menopause,” Oktay says. 

The model also accounted for the amount of ovarian tissue collected, the survival rate of the eggs in the harvested ovarian tissue after the transplantation, and the number of procedures the transplant is broken up into. 

The team's model shows freezing ovarian tissue by age 40 and having it transplanted back right before menopause will significantly delay menopause in most women. The study also found that if the procedure is performed before the age of 30, with an egg survival rate of 80 percent or more after the transplantation, it could delay menopause by up to 50 years or more.

The study generated an online calculator tool that patients and doctors can access to estimate the length of delay one can expect based on the key factors the study has identified. 

Yale release on Newswise