Sonia Sadha – a woman in her 30s with no children – is very excited by the idea of being able to delay the menopause. And why not, obviously enough. Except she’s managed to not understand the particular point being made here. Which is that delaying the menopause doesn’t extend human female fertility. It just delays the menopause. Which is not, in fact, the same thing.
For women like me, postponing the menopause would be a blessing
That’s fine, sure, why not?
Scientific advances that prolong fertility can only be a benefit to many would-be mothers
But that’s not actually what is being said nor done.
The treatment involves removing and freezing a small piece of ovarian tissue from women under the age of 40, then regrafting that tissue years later when they reach the menopause.
Yep, that means you get all the hormones back. Super.
That is why I read about it with a sense of excitement. Perhaps I would say this, as a woman in my late 30s who wants but does not yet have children, but I think enabling women to prolong their fertility would be a scientific advance worth celebrating.
And that’s not what is being said at all.
The bit of ovary is to be stuck back under the armpit. This is not known to aid in fertility, even while it does so with hormones. Further, there’s this:
The ovaries are filled with follicles. Follicles are fluid-filled structures in which the oocyte (also called egg) grows to maturity. Current knowledge indicates that females are born with their entire lifetime supply of gametes. At birth, the normal female ovary contains about 1-2 million/oocytes (eggs). Females are not capable of making new eggs, and in fact, there is a continuous decline in the total number of eggs each month. By the time a girl enters puberty, only about 25% of her lifetime total egg pool remains, around 300,000. Over the next 30-40 years of a female’s reproductive life, the entire egg supply will be depleted. Although no one can know with absolute certainty the number of eggs remaining within the ovaries at any given time, most women begin to experience a significant decrease in fertility (the ability to conceive a child) around the age of 37. At the time of menopause, virtually no eggs remain.
Or, as we might put it, being able to carry a child is not the same as being able to have a child. Which might end up being something of a disappointment, no?
This is not, by the way, just to sneer at someone who has lost the plot a bit. The woman tells us all, each and every week – she writes leaders for The Observer – about how the world should be. And she’s not competent to walk through the consequences of her own fertility decisions. What’s she going to be like on anything complex?