Ovarian aging – it’s time to menopause for thought

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It’s World Menopause Day – time to focus on the future of ovarian longevity, not dwell in the present.

World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18th of October; the purpose of the day is to raise awareness of menopause and the support options available for improving health and wellbeing. Too often, however, menopause is just accepted as one of Mother Nature’s faits accomplis, a natural, unavoidable bookend to a woman’s fertility and the price to pay for the joy of having children.

Well, at Longevity.Technology, we don’t accept that at all. 

In fact, our vision is a future with greater investment and increased research that bring about extended fertility and delayed menopause for those that want it, and the key to this is increasing understanding and awareness of ovarian aging. After all, how many women would take an active and positive role to direct their own fertility if safe and easy interventions were available? Discoveries are being made all over the world and this research needs to be harnessed and leveraged, translating discoveries into actual products. Spotlighting the processes involved in ovarian aging, and how to target them, will be a massive breakthrough for female healthspan and lifespan.

Women, on average, live longer than men, but the gap is narrowing; women also experience poorer health for longer. Why is this? Age-related decline in ovarian function leads to a decline in the quality of eggs available for reproduction, and the enormous monthly wastage (999 out of the 1000 oocytes prepped for fertilisation are binned by the body every cycle) means quantity reduces over time too. Negative feedback from ovarian factors cause endocrine changes, and the end result of these changes is menopause – natural sterility with a side order of 34 (and counting!) different symptoms.

During menopause, ovarian failure results in a huge drop in estrogen levels, and the knock-on effect of this increases several health risks for women including cardiovascular disease, skeletal fragility and Alzheimer’s. Women’s life expectancy has increased by 30 years, in fact a young woman now may live until she is in her late 90s, but this longevity is out of step with menopause onset, which has only increased by 3 to 4 years. This means that women should still aim to have children before the age of 35, and when you add finishing education, finding a partner (or choosing to go it alone) and being able to afford it into the mix, the upshot is a very short window of opportunity for children.

Menopause is accepted as part of the natural order of things, a women’s lot. But, menopause drives health decline in many women, leading to poor health in their later years and ovarian aging hangs like a spectre in women’s futures, reminding them that if they want children they had better orchestrate their education, career and relationship choices around an as-yet-unknown cut-off date.

Clearly, the world has limited resources, and we’re not arguing that everyone should be able to have it all, but we do think that we should have more – more education, more research and more choice.

Ovaries set the pace for aging in women and changing that pace could be the key to improving fertility, healthspan and lifespan. It’s time to address the challenge of ovarian aging and bring about better menopause outcomes for women, whether that’s empowering choice, ameliorating symptoms or delaying onset.

Our intelligence report on Ovarian Longevity will, we hope, galvanise the scientific and investment communities into undertaking that journey.

Download Ovarian Longevity (a completely free report) – Click here

Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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