The birth rate for women in the 40-44 range doubled between 1988 and 2008. There are many reasons for the trend in delayed child bearing: more women are pursuing higher education and career advancement; many don’t find love until later in life; and, some don’t decide to add to their family until later in life.
Regardless of the reason, women find it particularly distressing to hear there is no cure for old eggs when their advancing age is listed as a cause of their infertility. It is well documented that increasing age results in a decline in response to ovarian stimulation, reduced embryo quality and pregnancy rates, and an increased incidence of miscarriages and chromosomal disorders.
Traditionally, the leading explanation regarding age-related decline in egg quality has been that the highest quality eggs are selected first during early reproductive years, leaving the poorer quality eggs for more advanced age. However, recent research raises an alternative theory that may provide hope that our fertility potential is not determined solely by our chronological age. It suggests that the process of aging itself may exert an unfavourable influence on the eggs that remain dormant in the ovary before being selected for ovulation. Aging and age-related diseases are frequently associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. This is thought to be the same process that ages the ovaries.
Mitochondria can be thought of the battery pack found in all of the cells of the body and are concentrated in oocytes. As women and their ovaries age and oocyte mitochondrial energy production decreases, many of the normal processes of the oocyte become impaired.
So what does this mean?
It means that dietary interventions and supplementation that support mitochondrial function may have a positive impact on pregnancy outcome for older women that have been diagnosed with either low ovarian reserve, high FSH or been told they are poor responders. Several promising studies published in recent years suggest an enhancing role for these new supplemental therapies when used in conjunction with conventional assisted reproductive technologies.
There is no doubt that chronological age matters; however our biological age ( modified by diet and lifestyle factors) may matter too.
Contact us for more information and stay tuned for future blogs on how you can maximize your fertility potential through simple diet and lifestyle modifications.