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Artificial egg replacement.

Allow menstruation to continue beyond the normal range.
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
  [vote for,

Normally, when a woman's ovaries are stimulated by estrogen each month, an egg is released, causing the release of progesterone. When eggs are no longer released, menopause begins.

Not everyone enjoys menopause. It has a number of painful side effects, and loss of sexual desire can lead to problems. It has also been linked to an increase in certain other health risks. Menopause also sometimes occurs prematurely, and may then need to be treated. An earlier idea about birth control by disposing of one's eggs brought about a discussion of the negative sides of menopause, so I propose that in some situations it may be desirable for a woman to continue menstruating, even if it would not be desirable, or possible for her to continue releasing eggs.

Page 76 of the April 1999 issue of Scientific American reports on encapsulated cells. The gist of the idea is that you can make a material with pores so small that nutrients and hormones can pass through, but cells and viruses cannot. A cell cage, if you will. Specially modified cells that produce some desirable chemical can then be encapsulated inside such a structure, so that they will continuously produce some desired chemical, without ranging free in the body to attack healthy tissue, or be attacked by the immune system.

Genetically creating a cell culture capable of producing small quantities of progesterone when stimulated by estrogen should not be too difficult of a challenge. Clearly, the gene mechanism is already present in humans, and most other species with ovaries. We simply transfer this ability to a suitable cell culture, encapsulate the culture, and insert the capsule into the defunct ovaries, or some other nearby area that would transmit the estrogen/progesterone signature. Menstruation should then continue as usual for an indefinite period of time,

In order for the cell culture to be nourished, the capsule must be very close to a source of oxygen rich blood. However, this should present no major obstacle, as human genitals tend to be a wealth of tiny oxygen rich blood vessels.

Capsules are normally in the form of a narrow needle sized tube, often allowing the entire proceedure to be no more invasive than administering a large shot to a patient would be. Once inserted, the capsule would perform, to the best knowledge of science, the same function that a healthy supply of human eggs would otherwise perform, but without the inherent risk of the egg getting fertilized.

ye_river_xiv, Dec 30 2008

Hemochromatosis http://www.cdc.gov/...dd/hemochromatosis/
Iron overload [csea, Jan 03 2009]

Medical leeches http://www.biopharm-leeches.com/
Modern source [csea, Jan 03 2009]


Sort of off, and on, topic here;
A mans risk of heart attack or stroke is far greater than that of a pre-menopausal woman of the same age, but after menopause the chances level off.
I read of a study which suggests that the reason for this discrepancy is that excess iron is being flushed from the system during menstruation and that if men at risk donate blood equaling that of a menstrual flow, the risks equalize at a younger age.
Ditto that of post menopausal women.

       Stop strokes by going off the pill! Vernon would be proud.   

       But I Digress. I like this idea, it could actually work and while it may at first look like there is no point to it (most women complain about the menstrual cycle), it would allow some women to return to normality.   

       Would it also help with artificial insemination for women who are unable to menstruate?
miasere, Dec 30 2008

       I´m sure this could be done, but i also feel sure it wouldn't be a Good Þing. If bone density is built up early enough, it will take longer for it to decline postmenopausally. My mother is seventy-five and still has near-peak bone density. Without menstruation, you don´t need so much iron and even mild iron-deficiency anæmia, like most other problems, has a host of much nastier consequences. Since old age seems to be partly an accumulation of health problems throughout life, this would make it worse.   

       Going through the rest:
Hot flushes/flashes are easy to deal with and temporary.
Loss of libido is an unequivocally good thing.
Vaginal dryness, lichen sclerosus &c can be dealt with in the same way as hot flushes. Poor memory could be a consequence of menstruation as well as the menopause because of iron deficiency. It could be alleviated by the likes of memory theatre.
I will not be drawn on the following but my research corroborates it: Relative progesterone and œstrogen levels can be adjusted via action on the hypothalamus.
There's no need to be this invasive. I would also be concerned about the carcinogenicity of such a culture, and i reckon the culture itself could become cancerous.
The menopause is not a medical condition, any more than pregnancy is.
nineteenthly, Dec 30 2008

       I don't understand half of what you are discussing, but I will bun because it seems like it could work and you have given me another reason to donate blood. (+) I guess the key is to avoid the cancer mentioned.
MisterQED, Dec 30 2008

       Basically, the idea is to GM a cell culture that creates progesterone under the right conditions. then you seal the cell culture in a sort of microscopic mesh cage, where chemicals can float in and out freely, but where cells cannot escape.   

       The culture's carcinogenity should not be a major issue, as it is mimicking the action of normally existing cells. Laboratory testing of the culture to assure normal output should preclude carinogen production. The cell culture becoming cancerous itself also should not be concerned, as it's stuck in a little tube. Make the walls strong enough, and it should not be able to break out. Buildup of cell waste material will probably clog them to death eventually.   

       Menopause is not normally a medical condition. However, when it begins early, as through illness, it is a condition, and when old ladies ask for it to be treated, it gets treated like a condition. As hormone replacement currently has some negative side effects, it may be wise to look into other alternatives.
ye_river_xiv, Jan 03 2009

       will this bio-gadget implant have an effect on estrogen pill markets? Will there be more boy-girls in Thailand, because of a surplus? Or will the already girled-boys have to go cold turkey?   

       My applause to you for thinking this up. Many ladies I know have had a difficult time during menopause. However, I cannot help but dread changing grannies Depends, even more now...
Sir_Misspeller, Jan 03 2009

       Carcinogenesis is an evolutionary process. If you create a receptacle for the cells, you favour mutations such as long, thin shapes, which allow them to leak out, or the development of enzymes to break down the tube. This could be circumvented by making it out of a titanium mesh or something like using transport proteins inside a lipid membrane, or it may just be that such mutations are improbable.   

       When people ask me to treat their condition, i do it less invasively, and there are predisposing factors which often lead to other health problems, so why not address them?   

       Build up of waste materials sounds to me like it would lead to necrosis rather than apoptosis, and you don't want that. You'd get an undesirable immune response. Moreover, this encourages iron deficiency at a time of life when the efficiency of absorption is in decline and other factors, such as arthritis, will contribute to the problem. It's really not a good thing.
nineteenthly, Jan 03 2009

       [2fries], any chance of a citation? Your mention of excess iron led me to do some searching about this condition [link1] and a potential cure [link2].   

       In a quick search, I wasn't able to find any conclusive discussion of the prevalence of excess iron, and risks/benefits of excess iron reduction by phlebotomy (blood removal).   

       Bring back leeches? ;)
csea, Jan 03 2009

       Leeches are a problem ethically. Due to the risk of HIV and Hep B, they have to be killed after use, legally, and incinerated under controlled conditions. I personally think they should be retired to a leech farm, but i think that would be illegal. That leaves phlebotomy, which i don't do for two reasons. One is that it involves a sharps bin and i can't afford to do that. The other is that whereas there is CPD for therapeutic phlebotomy, no client would ever let me do that in a million years and it would create bad word of mouth. Also, i would say it violates the Hippocratic oath and there are not many indications for it.
One reason i do this stuff in the first place is that i'm veggie. If i started using leeches, not only would it not be veggie because i'd have to kill them, but my many veggie patients would stop coming to me and probably start a boycott campaign. I would also have to change my ethical policy and tell everyone i'd done that. It would be serious bad news, man.
nineteenthly, Jan 03 2009


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