Women might soon not have to worry about the ticking of their biological clocks, for researchers are on the verge of developing drugs that could delay menopause.
The news was broken by fertility expert Professor Robert Winston who told a press conference that researchers had found a protein which they believe could be soon be developed into a pill or an injection to delay menopause.
AdvertisementThe news sends new hope to women who want to put off having kids till they are in their late thirties or early forties, but who are also worried that they might be too old to get pregnant, or even carry a child full term.
The chances of success fall dramatically after the age of 37 and are negligible by 45 - because by then very few eggs are being produced.
Professor Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College, said that what made the prospect of a pill or injections to extend the life of women's eggs possible was the fact that modern day women were much healthier than their counterparts just 15 years back, and thus it was possible to delay menopause without much risk.
"We think we have identified a protein which might be used to prolong the life of those eggs. Women are much more healthy than they were and the period before the menopause could be extended without risk," the Daily Mail quoted him, as saying.
"What we are seeing is, increasingly, a society where women are waiting later and later to have their first baby. That's wholly admirable in every way. It shows how women are gaining full status as women in our society. They are getting educated and having careers," Professor Winston said.
According to Prof Winston, while a woman at the age of 16 has 400,000 eggs - but by the time she reaches the age of 46 there are virtually none left.
This means that women lose around two eggs an hour. The same is not true for men, he pointed out.
The news that there might soon be a way to delay menopause comes on the heels of a reports by the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority in the UK that revealed that, over the past 15 years, the number of cycles of IVF given to women between 40 and 45 has increased more than tenfold.
This increase has happened despite concerns that women who conceive after 40 put both their lives, as well as that of their babies under risk.
"It is a matter of concern and it may well be that one of the messages we need to concentrate on is reminding people of the biological clock and the difficulties of achieving pregnancy after you are 40," Angela McNab, chief executive of the HFEA, said.