In a society where women often want successful careers and equal opportunities to men, the early nature of ovarian aging often forces women to make difficult life choices between career and family development. Fertility in women begins to decline after the age of 37 years and it is rare for pregnancies to occur after 45. This reproductive decline in women is inevitable and culminates in menopause, which is a major driver of age-related diseases. In a world where biomedical advances are leading to modifiable biological outcomes, it is time to focus on mitigating female reproductive senescence to maintain fertility and preserve age-related hormonal functions, with the goal of providing increased life choices and enhancing healthspan. To date, reproductive longevity research remains an understudied field. More needs to be done to unravel the biology of the ovarian follicles, which are the functional units of reproductive lifespan and are comprised of cell types including the oocyte (female gamete) and a group of specialized supporting somatic cells. Biological attempts to maintain the quality and quantity of follicles in animal models through manipulating pathways involved in aging can potentially prolong female reproductive lifespan and healthspan. Here, we summarize the molecular events driving ovarian aging and menopause and the interventional strategies to offset these events. Developing solutions to female reproductive senescence will open doors to discover ways to enhance true healthy longevity for both men and women.
© 2022. The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Center for Excellence in Molecular Cell Science, CAS.