There are many reasons a woman might need to have surgery to remove part or all of her ovaries, from having ovarian cysts to endometriosis.
However, this surgery can stop the ovaries from working any more, which can have serious health consequences. This – also known as premature ovarian insufficiency – can cause early menopause and infertility, but also other complications such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cognitive impairment (trouble remembering or learning new things).
To prevent these complications, women who have their ovaries partially or totally removed are given hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) afterwards which they often take long term. But it can have serious side effects and it isn’t for everyone.
This is why Wellbeing of Women researcher, Dr Hajra Khattak, is exploring an alternative – ovarian tissue transplants.
During surgery, some of a woman’s own ovaries are transplanted into the inside of her pelvis, which Dr Khattak and her team believe could prevent the body triggering early menopause and other complications.
She hopes that the procedure could be another option for women, who could then put off taking HRT or avoid using it altogether.
If Dr Khattak’s transplantation became the new normal, many women could undergo surgery without having to choose between HRT and serious health consequences afterwards.