The truth about IVF and the menopause after Kourtney Kardashian’s claims

KOURTNEY Kardashian has claimed fertility treatment triggered her to go into menopause.

The reality star revealed her experience with an IVF drug, in a sneak peak of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians new series.

It emerged as the mum-of-three said she wants to have a baby with rocker fiancé Travis Barker.

The 42-year-old told mum Kris: "Every single person on social media is always like ‘Kourtney’s pregnant, Kourtney’s pregnant, Kourtney’s gained so much weight'.

"It’s so rude to comment on people when you have no idea what they’re actually going through. The medication they’re giving me, they put me into menopause. … Literally into menopause.”

We asked a number of IVF experts to dig into the facts behind the claim.

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Thousands of babies around the globe have been born using the methods first pioneered in the 1970s.

The process involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilising them using sperm in a lab.

One or more fertilised eggs, known as an embryos, are then transferred back into the woman’s womb to grow.

While we don't know Kourtney's medical history and the 42-year-old's specific experience, a number of experts told the Sun Online IVF cannot trigger menopause.

Menopause naturally begins in your 40s or 50s, with the average age for most women between 45-55.

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Adam Balen, a Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Surgery, said: "When you do IVF it's a short term treatment and there is no evidence of any long term effect.

"The data is very reassuring and there is no medical reason as to why the drugs for IVF would bring menopause forward."

Professor Luciano Nardo, an IVF/fertility expert, explained a drug used by some clinics to help with egg retrieval called GNRH, which can "put women in a pseudo menopausal state".

This gives the doctor more control over starting a new cycle, but because the menopausal type state is only for a short time it is "self limited".

He added: "[There is] no evidence that by starting these GNRH injections your body will go into menopause.

"Some woman are deprived of the production of the hormones so it is possible that some women may experience some symptoms of the menopause.

"But there is definitely no evidence of permanent menopause effect."

The expert, who founded NOW-fertility, added sometimes the emotional pressure to become pregnant can exacerbate any temporary symptoms.

But usually the state of pseudo menopause is so brief women might not even notice the change in their body, he explained.

How does IVF work?

There are six main stages of IVF:

  1. Firstly the menstrual cycle will be suppressed with medication
  2. You will be given further medication to encourage your ovaries to produce more eggs
  3. Ultrasound scans will be given to check the development of your eggs and medication can be used to help the maturing process
  4. The eggs will be collected by a needle being inserted into the ovaries via the vagina
  5. Eggs are mixed with sperm for a few days so they can be fertilised
  6. One or two of the fertilised embryos will be placed back into the womb. Women need to wait two weeks before taking a pregnancy test to see if the process has been successful.

Prof Balen agreed this could be the reason for Kourtney's comments, with women warned they might experience temporary menopause symptoms if certain IVF drugs are used.

He said his clinic doesn't use GNRH very often, but explained the reduction in oestrogen it sparks can make women feel they are going through "the change".

He added: "Some people use the term 'medical menopause', which is a little bit alarmist."

Grace Dugdale, a reproductive biologist and co-author of The Fertility Book with Prof Balen, said it is very unlikely fertility treatment would trigger a menopause.

She said a small recent study found a link between very slightly earlier menopause in women who had IVF, but most studies conclude it doesn't have an affect on reproductive aging.

The Royal Society of Biology fellow said the age women go through menopause is due to a cocktail of genetic and lifestyle factors.

This includes the age of their mum's menopause, smoking, eating disorders and poor diet.


Dr James Hopkisson, Medical Director at TFP Nurture Fertility, part of the TFP Fertility Group, said: "It is important that we get across that there is absolutely no evidence to support the onset of an early menopause being as a result of a cycle or multiple cycles of IVF. 

"The physiology of reproduction is complex and as women are born with all their eggs it is a common misconception that IVF will be detrimental to ovarian reserve.

"We are collecting maybe 10-15 eggs per cycle from an available pool of potentially 300000 at the time of puberty. In a reproductive life time around 350-400 eggs will be ovulated.

"In the past education on family planning has been all about preventing pregnancy.

"We need a concerted effort to educate on fertility and explain when it is best to try to conceive and the decreasing chances as women get older.

"This way we can empower women to make the best informed choices."

Earlier this year Prof Nardo revealed what ages you need to be thinking about having a biological child.

Men's fertility stays prime for around five years longer than women, to the age of around 40-45, when it gradually declines.

For women, fertility and age is a little more black and white, with a range of factors impacting their child-bearing ability.

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