It has been evidenced that 6 out of 10 women today face early menopause. It is the exact same condition as the one we all know, only, instead of developing it at the age of 50, it affects women before their 40s. It goes without saying that the health (hormonal) changes during menopause are significant, given that the ovaries are “ordered” to stop producing eggs, making the menstrual periods scarcer and scarcer until they totally disappear. Of course, this prevents women suffering early menopause from starting a family at an older age, and limits (even eliminates) their pregnancy success rates at the instance they decide it is time to become parents after their late 30s. So, “this is it”; one might think and allow all feelings of frustration, disappointment, sadness, and, in many cases, guilt, overwhelm them. However, before you go down that road, Team Miracle at Cyprus IVF Centre want to share some news that we are sure will excite you.
It IS possible for women facing early menopause to become pregnant.
With Assisted Reproduction!
So, despite the situation, you indeed have a good chance to conceive and enjoy parenthood.
Causes of Menopause
The factor that causes early menopause is not yet known, in most cases. Nevertheless, a young woman might enter early menopause due to genetics (perhaps a woman in the family, such as mother or grandmother has also suffered from it). Or it could be attributed to a health condition, such as an autoimmune disease or diabetes, both of which favour early menopause. Also, women undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy may experience early menopause, and the same applies to those that have had their ovaries removed. In the last two cases, the treatments usually harm the woman’s fertility irreversibly.
Symptoms of Early Menopause
Although each woman has different symptoms during early menopause (and menopause alike), most usually experience hot flushes and night sweats, as well as vaginal dryness, reduction of sexual appetite, and/or genitalia elasticity loss. However, there are women that only display a few of these symptoms. What is sure, though, is that the periods disappear. And, with them, goes the woman’s fertility, at least, theoretically. Without being able to use their own eggs to have children, these women cannot get pregnant naturally. BUT, there are options. At the Cyprus IVF Centre, we provide our patients facing early menopause with, at least, two excellent options (one is proactive) to help them conceive, even if their periods have stopped forever.
1. Egg Preservation
A woman can freeze her eggs with Team Miracle at Cyprus IVF Centre to preserve her fertility. This is particularly good news for women diagnosed with a disease whose therapies (or the disease itself – see endometriosis) affect her fertility, making it very difficult for her to get pregnant after she is cured and has resumed her normal life. Certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, immunosuppressive therapies (i.e. those used in cancer treatment), and radiotherapy damage the very sensitive ovaries. As a result, the number of eggs in the woman’s egg reserve (ovaries) are usually considerably reduced. Also, more than often, the remaining eggs lose their capacity to generate a pregnancy. As you can understand, acting proactively is key, in this case. This is why Team Miracle and esteemed OB-GYN and assisted reproduction specialist Dr. Firdevs have invested hugely on informing women suffering from fertility-threatening conditions about their options BEFORE the start their treatment so that they can give themselves the chance to become mothers in the future.
Freezing their eggs (aka oocyte cryopreservation) is a great option that allows us to keep the characteristics of the eggs intact and use them after the patient is being cured of the disease and her health allows her to try to become pregnant. Cryopreservation is considered one of the most advanced techniques in gynaecological medicine and is an excellent pro-active option for women that are more likely to face early menopause.
You simply freeze your healthiest (best quality) eggs now and use them when you are ready for childbearing. It should be noted, though, that although it sounds quite simple, cryopreservation requires an advanced set of skills and specially controlled lab settings so that you can be sure it is carried out successfully. Therefore, you need to find the most competent medical professionals with stellar laboratory settings like ours at Cyprus IVF Centre to handle such a complex process as cryopreservation. Team Miracle use only the very best vitrification and warming kits available on the market, imported from Germany and Japan. The advanced technology preserves gametes in the best possible state to minimise damage during the freezing process. As for the standard time for maintaining the frozen eggs, it usually is 10 years. Beyond that, you would probably need more specific clinical assistance.
2. Egg Donation
Egg donation is a widely-spread option that gives women with fertility issues the opportunity to conceive with the help of another woman. IVF with egg donation is a technique mainly recommended for women over the age of 37, when the likelihood to get pregnant with their own eggs drops significantly due to the lower quality of the remaining eggs, increased risk of foetus-related genetic problems and higher miscarriage rates. Egg donation is also recommended for women with a chromosome anomaly, genetic disease or pathology that does not allow us to stimulate her ovaries efficiently and effectively.
Of course, women facing early menopause can opt for IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) using donor eggs to conceive, regardless of their age. At the moment, the egg donation treatment is one of the technologies in assisted reproduction with the highest chances of success. At Cyprus IVF Centre, this technique has spread smiles to our patients, more than 7 times out of 10; a fact which makes the Team Miracle members very proud. The high success rates are attributable to extremely high quality donors, the best IVF specialist doctor in Europe, advanced technology and laboratory equipment and the dedication of every team member. Team Miracle ensure that we constantly sharpen our skills by following closely the most recent advancements in assisted reproduction and broadening our horizons with new, pioneering, and much-promising methods.
The Cyprus IVF Centre Comprehensive Donor Programme
Run by Dr. Firdevs herself, who selects and screens potential donors, the programme is open only to young and healthy women (between 20 – 25 years of age) with the highest quality eggs. After rigorous testing processes, which include tests for genetic disorders, karyotyping, hormone tests, and tests for infectious diseases (i.e. Anti-HIV and Rubella IgG), as well as proven successful pregnancies using their eggs in their past, donors are accepted to the program. To make sure we maintain quality at its highest levels possible, we also conduct regular screenings for all our donors every 2 months. As for the eggs donated, one donor is used exclusively for one patient. We do not perform egg sharing. This means that the woman whose eggs you will be using will not be super-ovulated for another egg recipient but you. Instead, Dr Firdevs will design a unique stimulation protocol for each donor so that they produce 10 – 20 eggs without affecting the quality.
Also, if you so wish, you may receive eggs from a family member of dear friend, as long as their eggs are screened and found to be high quality.
Anonymity & Confidentiality Guaranteed
The donor programme at Cyprus IVF Centre is 100% confidential and anonymous for both parties, unlike in many European countries, such as the UK, where the donor receives information about the recipient of their eggs, and the child or children born with egg donation. We respect your privacy and your decision not to tell your children about the fertility procedure you have gone through to have them.
Plus, you get to actually choose your donor. We can give you a shortlist of each donor, based on their height, weight, hair and eye colour, nationality, age, occupation, and level of education so you can pick the one that is close to your own appearance, nationality, and background.
Egg Donor Procedure
For medication and the detailed steps involved in IVF through egg donation, kindly contact a Team Miracle coordinator. Below, we give you a short brief of the processes that take place:
- The egg recipient (you) receives medication (at home) to help prepare the lining of her uterus to accept the upcoming pregnancy.
- The egg donor has her ovaries stimulated so that they produce eggs, which will be harvested later. We prefer to use fresh eggs whenever possible to maximise the chance of pregnancy so we would organise for your husband or partner to arrive in Cyprus prior to egg collection in order to provide a sperm sample.
- The eggs collected from the donor are then fertilised with your partner’s sperm using ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) method. If there are any issues with sperm quality, Cyprus IVF Centre by Team Miracle is the only hospital in Cyprus to offer the most advanced IMSI technology available. The Team Miracle embryologists would use IMSI prior to fertilisation to select the most morphologically normal sperm available.
- After ICSI, the eggs are incubated for 24 hours to determine how many of them have fertilised.
- The fertilised ones are left to develop for another 3-5 days, depending on the case, before the embryo transfer process takes place.
- Then, comes a 12 – 14 day waiting period, when you need to be patient and relax. In the event of implantation success (pregnancy is established), things will take their natural course, just like any natural gestation process!
Dealing with the Emotional Impact of Early Menopause
Many women facing early menopause see their self-esteem drop. Dr. Firdevs comments that, unfortunately, entering menopause is a socially accepted situation for women older than 45 years of age, but barely before that. Considering that we have come to associate fertility with a young woman, when menopause strikes at an early age, these women suddenly feel older. They also share the same fear that their partners will start looking at them from another angle; an angle, where they look less attractive.
Overcoming all those negative thoughts and emotions and accepting the situation as is, is equally important as undergoing treatment to alleviate the symptoms of early menopause. To help increase your chances of success, you do need to feel as emotionally stable as possible, because your state of mind affects the outcome of every treatment you undergo, be it to address fertility problems or any other.
At Cyprus IVF Centre, you will find friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful medical staff that are more than willing to assist you to achieve the desired pregnancy and provide you with all the support you need along the way. Yes, we will do everything possible to use your own eggs. But, if this is not the best option for you, rest assured we will come forward with the best alternatives so that you can soon hold your baby in your arms and be blessed with the wonderful gift of parenthood.