Due to a variety of factors, often including career, educational and financial considerations, today many women are routinely waiting until they are in their 30’s before trying to start a family. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more women in their mid to late 30s having babies than women in their 20s.
And while a woman in her 30’s is still considered relatively young by our cultural standards, in the world of fertility medicine she is starting to push the envelope in terms of how easily she can conceive. If you are a woman under 30 and trying to become pregnant, you have a 95 percent chance of doing so within a year.
But after age 30 your chances fall by 3 percent each and every year, so that by the time you are 40, you only have a 5 to 10 percent chance of becoming pregnant naturally. And if you are 45 or older, your chances fall below a dismal 5 percent.
Understanding The Aging Egg
Even if you take great care of yourself and enjoy robust good health, unfortunately this does not offset the age related decline in fertility and your eggs continue to age. To understand how age affects your eggs, it’s important to know that you are born with all the eggs you will ever have, about one million at birth. These eggs are immature and only a fraction of them will go through the process of maturation at ovulation.
By the time you reach puberty, the number of immature eggs will have declined to about 300,000 and even then, only about 300 of these will ever go through ovulation to become mature eggs during your reproductive years. The remaining eggs gradually decrease through a natural degenerative process called atresia (say “a-TREE-zee-ah).
Besides the loss in absolute numbers, your eggs also undergo a loss of “quality” as you age. As your eggs age, they accumulate errors in their genetic material and become damaged. This is known as loss of egg quality and can lead to lack of implantation in the uterine wall, miscarriage and even birth defects.
The only known way to keep your eggs from aging was to have some of your own eggs extracted and frozen before you reach the age of 30 or to obtain eggs from a younger donor and have them implanted. Either way, these involve considerable expense, are invasive procedures and also can mean considerable emotional upheaval. This decline in egg quality has always been considered an irreversible feature of human aging.
The Fountain Of Youth For Human Eggs?
But now there is promising research from the University of Queensland, Australia, published in the 18th February 2020 issue of Cell Reports, which details the discovery of a non-invasive, simple and safe method for maintaining and even restoring both the quality and the number of eggs, thus alleviating the biggest obstacle older women face in trying to become pregnant.
This initial study was carried out in mice to test the idea that the loss of egg quality due to aging is because of a decline in a specific substance found in cells that is vital for the production of energy. This substance is NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and acts in the body as a coenzyme or cofactor.
Coenzymes are substances that are necessary for enzymes, a type of protein, to do their work in the cell, which is to modulate the rate at which chemical reactions within the cell proceed. Without these coenzymes, many of these vital biochemical reactions would proceed at such a slow rate they would be rendered virtually ineffective.
The researchers used NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) which is a precursor compound and is used by the body to make NAD. The team gave aged mice low doses of NMN in their drinking water over four weeks and observed a dramatic increase in egg quality and the number of live births. Although this initial research was carried out in mice, the researchers are quite optimistic about the promise these agents have in the treatment of human fertility, especially because this treatment is both non-invasive and inexpensive.
One unexpected finding from the study was that relatively low doses of NMN were effective in restoring egg quality and this led the researchers to speculate that there is an optimum range for dosing and that going beyond this might possibly adversely affect other aspects of fertility. So of course, they naturally caution women that these agents need to be formally tested in human clinical trials to determine their effectiveness before they are used by women trying to become pregnant.
Both NAD+ and NMN are readily available as dietary supplements. Increasing your levels of NAD+ by supplementation has been clearly shown to have a wide variety of powerful anti-aging effects, including the promotion of brain health and cellular regeneration as well as decreased inflammation. As you age, the level of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) in your body naturally declines.
Because NAD+ is essential for optimal cellular functioning and repair, this decline contributes to many of the often distressing changes you are likely to experience as you grow older, such as a decrease in cognitive functioning, a reduction in bone density, a decline in muscle strength and now, thanks to the work of the Queensland researchers, appears to be operative in the loss of egg quality and subsequent infertility of women in their mid-30s and beyond.
Supplementation With NAD+ And NMN
Supplementation with a high quality NAD+ product or NAD+ precursor (NMN) is the most reliable, practical and effective way to increase your levels. You can find more information on all of our NAD+ supplements here, including NAD+ as well as its precursor NMN.
Taken daily, NAD+ supplementation will increase your levels of this powerful coenzyme and ensure you have the best protection against the detrimental effects of the aging process, and this well may include protecting your eggs against a loss of age related quality. Although NAD and NMN supplements are widely available over the counter and have no known adverse effects, if you are trying to conceive and are considering using NAD or NMN supplementation, ideally you should consult with your physician before doing so.
1. Hamilton B.E., Martin J.A., Osterman M.J.K., & Rossen L.M. (2019, May). Births: Provisional data for 2018. Vital Statistics Rapid Release; Report No. 7. National Center for Health Statistics.
2. Bertoldo et al. NAD Repletion Rescues Female Fertility during Reproductive Aging. Cell Reports, 2020; 30 (6): 1670 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.058.
3. May-Panloup, P. et al. (2016, November). Ovarian ageing: the role of mitochondria in oocytes and follicles. Human Reproduction Update, 22(6), 725–43.
4. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice and The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2014, March).
5. Female age-related fertility decline; Committee Opinion No. 589. ASRM Pages, 101(3), 633-634.