An estimated 12% of women recently reported having difficulty conceiving. One in 8 couples were found to encounter hurdles in starting a family, and nearly 33% of Americans have resorted to fertility treatments. This clearly points to the fact that female fertility is a growing concern in the United States.
Infertility can make the journey to parenthood a particularly tough challenge. Adding to this complexity, all too often, the struggle is kept quiet. For many, it is an awkward and unwelcome conversation. But a larger question remains, “At what age does a woman stop being fertile?”
There isn’t one right answer to this. Every woman is different. Reasons for reproductive issues can vary. Age, diet, physical, emotional, and environmental stressors are a few factors that govern fertility after 30. Among these, age-related infertility is probably the most researched. Across the board, it is well-known that women younger than 35 years of age have higher chances of conceiving and holding a healthy pregnancy, and the odds of a successful pregnancy stack up against those trying to conceive at a later age.
So, what can a couple do in the face of such distress? A better question to help with this infertility discussion is, “Why is a woman’s age such a key player in the infertility game?” Emerging research has shown evidence for the role of NAD+ in female age-related infertility. This article explores why NAD+ may have the potential to become a game-changer in the world of female infertility. Let’s jump in.
Ovarian Function and Aging
Peak fertility age for women is supposed to be under age 30. A healthy ovarian follicle is one that supports maturation and fertilization. It eventually contributes to healthy embryonic development. A decline in female egg count by age has been shown to be the rate-limiting factor for fertility. This age-dependent, limited ovarian follicle reserve contributes to the infamous ticking biological clock. With age, ovaries push fewer eggs out into the reproductive cycle. Furthermore, these ovarian follicles tend to be of poorer quality. The remaining reserve follicles have a hard time getting fertilized. Even if fertilized, chances they will not support a healthy pregnancy are pretty high.
Free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) from both intrinsic (toxic metabolic byproducts) and extrinsic toxins (heavy metals, processed food, etc.) make their way into the body and damage cellular homeostasis. This carefully orchestrated balance is vital for our continued state of health and wellbeing. These free radicals bombard and disrupt cellular pathways.
Luckily for us, there are several inherent elimination pathways to rid the system of these damaging ROS molecules. As we age, gradual accumulation of oxidative stress from these free radicals wreak havoc and damage cellular metabolism. These robust elimination pathways weaken with age, which forms the basis of a multitude of disease states.
Free radicals cause DNA damage and chromosomal abnormalities within ovaries. Unfortunately, these ovaries do not have the ability to regenerate and multiply in number unlike other cells in our body, and ultimately their limited pool is depleted. This, over time, marks the onset of infertility.