Is it time to cancel menopause?
Sometime when a woman is in her 40s or 50s, the supply of eggs she was born with gradually degrades and runs out. Hormones like estrogen, produced within her egg follicles as they ready for release each month, dwindle. And that shift ushers in an onslaught of often-brutal changes: the end of her fertility, menopausal symptoms that can undermine everyday functioning for years, and heightened risk of age-related illness, from heart disease to bone loss to dementia.
That’s just the way it’s always been and the way we’ve always assumed it had to be.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way?
A small but growing number of scientists are asserting that it’s time to cancel menopause—or at least substantially delay it. And their hypothesis is that if we do, we’ll not only extend women’s fertility but also postpone the onset of a cascade of potential health problems. NEO.LIFE has examined this effort over the last nine months, speaking to some of the leading experts in the field and surveying several of the companies driving the effort.
To cancel menopause, experts say, we will have to overcome the longstanding underfunding of women’s health research and the obscurity of the fledgling field of female reproductive longevity. Even then, the underlying question remains: Should we overcome our own evolutionary programming? And if it’s possible, can we make it safe? No one knows for sure what will happen if we re-score the symphony of biochemical signals that orchestrate and flow from a woman’s menstrual cycle, because no one’s ever done it before. Yet the scientists who are pursuing this goal (many of them pre-menopausal women) believe so fiercely in their pursuit that they’re willing to take on any challenges—be they from Mother Nature or their fellow man.
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