Fertility and Aging
--- by Dr. Jane Liu
Aging is a sensitive term for most women. No one wants to grow old but no one can stop the process of aging, the onset of wrinkles and gray hairs. But while we can’t stop time, we can moderate the way time affects us. In modern society, our lifestyles can speed up our aging: stress speeds up aging, eating incorrectly can speed up aging…anything from the way we sleep to what we intake can affect how quickly or slowly our bodies decline.
For women, aging has a strong correlation to the number of eggs in the ovaries. The eggs are present from the time a baby grows in her mother’s womb, never multiplying or replicating as s***m does. As she loses those eggs throughout her life, she also ages: this process usually ends when she is 50, the age at which she goes through menopause. But just as it affects the aging of the rest of her body, her lifestyle—stress, eating habits—will influence the environment of the ovaries, which can quicken egg apoptosis and affect egg quality. Thus, she might reach menopause too early as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. For these reasons, women with these qualities and habits have a much lower chance of pregnancy than women of the same age group without this lifestyles. In my career, I have seen many women who suffer from premature ovarian failure due to highly stressful lives. I have also treated many patients with low ovarian reserve because they were vegetarians without nutritional guidance who did not receive all the nutrition they needed.