Older women may struggle to conceive ‘because their OVARIES

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Older women may struggle to conceive ‘because their OVARIES not their eggs become damaged’  Declining egg quality is thought to be why fertility rates fall in older women Now researchers found it may be due to their ovaries becoming scarred
This is the first study to look at the ovarian environment as well as eggs
Team is now investigating treating the ovaries could improve fertility

Women may struggle to conceive as they age because their ovaries become scarred and inflamed, new research suggests.
Until now it was believed fertility rates fell in females over 40 because the quality of their eggs declines.
But the new study suggests it might be damage to the ovaries, which produce the eggs, that is to blame instead.

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Women may struggle to conceive as they age because their ovaries become scarred and inflamed, a new study suggests (file photo)
Women may struggle to conceive as they age because their ovaries become scarred and inflamed, a new study suggests (file photo)
Researchers are heralding the report as the first to reveal the effects of the ovarian environment.
The findings could result in new treatments that prolong fertility by delaying ovarian ageing.
Researchers from the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, compared ovarian tissue in ‘young’ and ‘old’ mice.
They found that up to 35 per cent of the tissue in the older mice had become fibrotic, meaning it had become thickened and scarred.
Lead author Dr Francesca Duncan, of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said: ‘Under the microscope, eggs from re-productively young and old animals may look identical, but the environment in which they are growing is completely different.
‘Ovaries from re-productively old mice are fibrotic and inflamed.

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The study was the first to analyse ovarian tissue – suggesting the ovaries and not the declining quality of eggs might be to blame for lower fertility rates in older women
The study was the first to analyse ovarian tissue – suggesting the ovaries and not the declining quality of eggs might be to blame for lower fertility rates in older women
‘There is no way this environment won’t impact the eggs growing in it, and it very likely contributes to their decrease in quality.’
The scientists also found a type of immune cell, which is associated with chronic inflammation, present in the ovaries of older mice.
Dr Duncan added: ‘People tend to overlook that the egg is growing in a complex environment, and no one has taken a deep look at what is happening to that environment with age
‘It’s an underappreciated area.’
The team is now investigating how to treat the ovarian environment to improve fertility.
The findings were published in the journal Reproduction.

 

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