The biological clock is ticking. At least, that’s what women in their 30s hear if they don’t have kids yet. And this warning isn’t without some scientific backing. After all, once a woman moves into her mid-30s, fertility naturally declines, making it more difficult to become pregnant and avoid age-related birth problems. But thanks to a new study from Princeton University, researchers may have found a way to extend egg health as women age.

Coleen Murphy is a professor molecular biological at Princeton University and she led the study now published in the journal, Current Biology. She along with fellow researchers explored declining female reproduction associated with aging.

As Murphy explained, “As early as the mid-30s, women start to experience declines in fertility, increased rates of miscarriage and maternal age-related birth defects. All of these problems are thought to be caused by declining egg quality, rather than a lack of eggs.”

So, the study’s objective was to find a way to keep a woman’s eggs healthier even if she was midway through her fertile window.

The research centered around the microscopic worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, which shares the same genes involved in the human aging process.They found that a certain group of proteins called cathepsin B proteases contributes to the decline of egg health.

In this study, researchers were able to successfully block this protein and extend the quality of the eggs in worms.

This could be a potential solution for women, too. As Murphy shared, “This is something that could work…The idea that you could do something mid-reproduction to improve the rest of reproduction — for me, that’s a game changer.”

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