Fertility peaks at around twenty five and from then on it steadily declines. It is primary due to an age related decrease in egg quality rather than changes in the lining of the womb. It is also well known that as women get older, the ovarian reserve decreases and an increase in chromosomal (genetic abnormalities) start persisting.
The question that comes up is, can we improve the quality of the eggs or can we reverse the ageing process. We know that eggs rely on energy and this energy is produced by small structures in the cells known as mitochondria.
One of the by-products of this mitochondrial respiration is something known as a reactive oxygen species (ROS). Any factor that suppresses the ROS formation allows for a better environment in which the oocyte (egg) can function. One of the features found in a study done by Dr Casper and Dr Ben Dove in Toronto published in Fertility and Sterility dwelt on the fact that co-enzyme Q10 concentrations are one of the features of human ageing and declines in tissue as the tissues ages.
Severe deficiencies of Co-enzyme Q10 had been shown to see an increase in ROS as well as increase in the death of the cells. It has also been shown that Co-enzyme Q10 supplementation normalises the oxidative balance of certain cells in the laboratory as well as studies done on mice indicated that co-enzyme Q10 did improve the number of eggs in mice.
There continues to be a long way to go and research is yet needed to see whether there are medications which can improve the number or the quality of the eggs in humans . Any mechanism that increases mitochondria function and increases the energy should have a positive impact in older women. We know that there is some mitochondrial nutrients, such as co-enzyme Q10 and r-alpha lipoic acid (ALA) which may reduce the risk of certain abnormalities in eggs. These are very early studies and extensive studies are still awaited on this subjects.