IVF Babble

Reproductive therapies challenging the decline in egg quality and quantity

We received this letter from one of our readers, who feels bombarded with negative comments from friends who tell her she has run out of time if she wants to be a mother

“Dear IVF babble,

“I want a baby and my body won’t let me because I have been cursed with infertility. They say “infertility sucks”, but let me tell you, it does more than suck, it hurts deep to my core.

“Let me tell you a bit about me. I am 37. I have worked so hard to build the perfect life. I run my own business and have built a beautiful home for the baby I so desperately yearn for. But I find myself still waiting, trying to block out the unhelpful comments from friends and family, like “you should have tried earlier”, “you put your career first so it’s no surprise that you have run out of time”, “You will probably have to adopt now”. I want to shout back at them and tell them that they are wrong, that I haven’t left it too late, but I can’t because I don’t know what is happening to my body. I don’t know why it isn’t working as it should do. I don’t know if it ever will.

“Can you help me gain some perspective?”

So, we at IVF babble turned to Dr Hector Izquierdo, medical director of Vida Fertility Alicante for some answers.

IVFB: Can you explain to us what happens to a woman’s reproductive health as she reaches her mid-thirties?

Dr Izquierdo:The decline in our reproductive health can lead to so many emotions of frustration, regret and guilt. As your reader says, she has worked so hard to create such a wonderful life, but sadly, our biological body does not understand or care about careers, families, homes, or relationships.

There are two kinds of cells that we are born with and are not renewed: eggs and neurons. That means that all the damage and ageing these cells suffer is irreparable. Every month, with every single cycle, a group of eggs (not just one but an average of 7 to 12 eggs) start maturation at the same time, so that one of them can be ovulated, while the rest of them become “lost”.

Another natural process affecting our reproductive health lays also in the normal functioning of the ovary. Every egg, whether it ovulated or not after the ripening, produces a scar in the ovary. This scar tissue produces a barrier for hormones and blood vessels providing the ovaries, reducing at the same time the function of the ovary. Over time, more little scars appear meaning more and more little obstacles for fertilisation.

Finally, sometimes forgotten, the womb is also very important when we want to conceive and although it ages at much slower path than the ovaries, it also ages. With the age some problems may come, to name a few: polyps, fibroids, adhesions among others.

Have you left it too late to have children with your own eggs if you are 37?

Dr Izquierdo: No. There is still hope, despite the decline in egg quality and quantity as you age, because reproductive medicine is evolving to overcome these challenges.

Treatment such as antioxidative therapies, stem cells, and platelets rich plasma, are all very promising in this field providing, alternatives to the egg donation which has always been the go-to solution.

IVFB: Can you explain what these treatments are?

Dr Izquierdo: Yes of course…..

Antioxidative therapies:

Fighting against ageing and cellular stress caused by oxidation is one of the biggest fields of research nowadays in medicine. The way a woman’s eggs react to an ovarian stimulation, and mature ready to be extracted can be improved if we fight against oxidative stress. The treatment options for this include diet and sports as a base, followed with vitamins and medications like Coenzyme Q10, but it all depends on the patients´ situation.

Stem cells:

This is a trending topic! I think we have all heard about stem cells and how promising it seems for medical treatments. In the case of reproductive medicine our goal is to reduce ovarian damage and perhaps with the time be able to produce new eggs in patients in early menopause or low ovarian reserve. At this moment we are still very early on this field of research, but this is something we are going to hear a lot more of in the future.

Platelets rich plasma:

This is probably the most used therapy at this moment to work against ageing and tissular damage. The platelets were thought to be just responsible to initiate the blood clotting system, now we know that they are rich in growing factors that may help tissue to heal or rejuvenate. The field of action of this therapy nowadays is to improve endometrial lining that doesn’t respond to oestrogens or patients with low response to ovarian stimulation or diminished ovarian reserve.

IVFB: So, to conclude, our can reader shut down those annoying comments by telling people that they are wrong, that she has science on her side?

Of course, she can! As like with many other facts regarding fertility, a lack of knowledge is usually the problem. This is why it is so important that we as fertility experts, inform, communicate and normalize the topic. At Vida Fertility, this is one of our main goals.



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