London, May 3: Women who have undergone IVF treatment often fear that they will reach menopause early. Now however, they can breathe a sigh of relief, for a new study has said that IVF does not cause early menopause or even more severe menopausal symptoms.
The UK study is one of the first studies dealing with the long-term effects of IVF treatment, and was conducted by a team of researchers that included boffins from Queensland University, Australia, and Cornell University in the US. The study involved almost 200 women who were among the first to undergo IVF, which involved a far heavier drugs regime in the 1980s. It was discovered that their menopause started at the same age as the national average, i.e. the average of just over 50. The belief that IVF could bring on the menopause early is due to the fear that ovary-stimulation for releasing the eggs required for treatment might bring about their speedy decline.
Doctors have long been against this notion but there wasn't any clinical evidence to prove the same. They found that the participants' menopausal age was quite similar as that of their mother. Also, there wasn't any increase in menopausal symptoms with the number of treatments, even though their results were not compared with non-treated controls.
"It was unknown territory in those days. Although all the studies showed that the treatment was safe, it was ground-breaking and we couldn't predict the potential long-term impacts," BBC quoted Dr Kay Elder, who led the research at Bourn Hall, as saying.
She added: Overall, follicle stimulation "appears to have no lasting impact on the timing or symptoms of the menopause. Since many of the women received multiple treatment cycles and large doses of drugs, the current trend towards milder stimulation should have no effect either, which is reassuring for the future."
According to Laurence Shaw, spokesman for British Fertility Society and medical director of the Bridge Centre, though the findings of the research were not surprising but it was "nonetheless a very helpful study indeed".
He added: "This is a question patients often ask - and it's very useful to finally have a scientific study to point to which offers them reassurance that IVF will not affect the timing or severity of the menopause."
The findings of this study are on Reproductive Bio Medicine Online.