Lately, I’m seeing more and more news about stem cell therapy from cells extracted from menstrual blood as well as cord blood and tissue. Since I have never experienced pregnancy, I’m going to share a bit about menstrual blood banking and leave the cord talk for someone else.
Banking your menstrual stem cells is actually quite simple. Right now there are two ways to do this.
As an avid menstrual cup user, I’d prefer to collect my flow in the privacy of my own home rather than in a doctor’s office, but I’m sure there are some hygienic concerns with going this route.
The home kit comes with a menstrual cup, instructions and something to sterilize the cup before insertion. You also get personal barcode labels, frozen packs and a vial for storing the flow.
After doing a bit of research on the LifeCell Femme webpage I learned that Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), are important for cellular therapy and those obtained from menstrual flow are the best to use because they have a high concentration of “stem cell growth factors”.
This video by CryoCell offers a bit more insight on the overall process of menstrual blood banking:
Your very own priceless portfolio… (I think I’ll save my critique on the discourse of how this is marketed to women for another post).
The main question I’d like to ask: “Is banking menstrual stem cells something women should consider?”
An article from time.com suggests that there is less controversy and more benefits to banking menstrual blood stem cells from others such as the cells found in bone marrow. For one thing, it’s minimally invasive (another great reason to try a menstrual cup!). Next, it’s a pain-free retrieval process. And lastly, there is little controversy attached to this method. Most women don’t have strong opinions about what happens to their flow after it has made its way to whatever femcare product they use during their cycle.
If women, each month, have the capability to bank their flow, flow that can be life saving, why aren’t we?
Cost most definitely plays a part. CryoCell’s initial processing fee is around $500 and to store the cells is about $100 each year. That’s a fair bit of money to spend “just in case”. Obviously the arguments for and against this will vary based on an individual’s perspective and values of the life process.
Regardless of cost, it is exciting to see that more and more doctors are seeing how menstruation, that icky, taboo “women’s” issue, is actually quite awesome (minus the cramps, discomfort and change in mood of course).
Recent studies are proving what women have been trying to say for years; there is a reason for our periods besides pregnancy! The Endometrial Regenerative Cell is stirring up quite the conversation from both a proprietary and clinical perspective.
I find it fascinating that cells extracted from menstrual flow can help treat heart failure patients! However, I also wonder if certain individuals would refuse treatment if they knew where the cells came from?
If there is a chance of disease (proven by family history or gene testing) that could be helped by menstrual blood stem cells, I’d certainly consider “banking” on such an investment.