Oxidative stress and female fertility

Scientific studies have shown that oxidative stress plays a role in infertility of a woman and may lead to the decreased fertilization potential of a woman’s egg cell – oocyte.1

Considering oxidative stress impact in early stages of pregnancy planning would potentially help women to have smoother and shorter journey to conception.6

What is
oxidative stress?

In short, oxidative stress is the imbalance on a cellular level.

It is caused when the production of reactive oxygen species (also known as free radicals or oxidants) overstretches the body’s defensive (antioxidant) system, responsible for their neutralization and removal. It may result in cellular damage and considering female reproductive system it may lead to decreased fertilization potential of woman’s egg cell – oocyte.7

Normal cells.

Free radicals attacking the cells. They damage all components of the cell.

More severe oxidative stress can cause cell death (aportosis or necrosis).

In many cases of unexplained infertility, defects in oocyte quality provide an insight into why some couples have difficulty conceiving despite having normal fertility test results.8

Can we control oxidative stress?

The most common cause of poor oocyte quality is natural aging, which is strongly tied to reduced oocyte mitochondrial efficiency and increased oxidative stress.9,10,11,12

Reference 8: Oocyte aging underlies female reproductive aging: biological mechanisms and therapeutic strategies. Reprod Med Biol (2015) 14:159–169.

Despite natural aging there are also other reasons that contribute to the increased levels of oxidative stress. They can be assigned to main groups: lifestyle factors and reproductive pathologies.7

Lifestyle factors such as undernutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and low physical activity levels can be easily overcome when their impact on female reproductive health is acknowledged.7

Lifestyle factors

Recreational Drugs

Good news

Oxidative stress is a potentially manageable condition. It is important to be aware of the causes of oxidative stress and take steps to reduce the impact of those causes.

Targeted antioxidants like zinc contributes to normal fertility and reproduction and zinc, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.2,3

First step is already done- it is being aware of oxidative stress and ways how to reduce it.