How to improve your egg qualityApr 25, 2023
I remember when I went to my first fertility specialist after trying to conceive naturally for 6 months. We did all the tests, and after assessing our results, they suggested that we move straight to IVF. And while I definitely didn’t want to go down this path, I felt an amount of relief. This was the solution we needed. They would take the best of my eggs, the best of my husband’s sperm and create a perfect little embryo.
What I didn’t realise (and in hindsight seems so naïve of me now) was that this was not a simple solution. It wasn’t just about handing control over to my fertility specialist and the laboratory that was going to create our embryos. They could only work with what we provided them. So if we sent them shitty eggs and sperm, we’d most likely get poor-quality embryos. Of course, they didn’t tell us this at the time.
But I’m going to tell you today, what I wish they had told us. In order to create the best embryo when you’re doing IVF, or increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally, there are things you can do to increase your egg quality. So if you’re feeling like you have no control, or you’re sick of doctors telling you that you’re not getting pregnant because your eggs are too old, it’s time to take back the reigns and turn back the hands of time.
Here are some things you can do to improve your egg quality (at any age!).
Now, I am not an expert on nutrition or diet, so for this blog, I’ve joined forces with team at Fertilitae, to help provide some guidance.
Why Does Egg Quality Decline?
Every cell in your body has something called mitochondria. They’re responsible for producing the energy that allows cells to do their jobs. Your ovaries produce oocytes, also known as eggs. These eggs have the biggest concentration of mitochondria than any other cell in the body. Mitochondria allow the egg to grow, become fertilized, and implant into the uterus. Once the egg and sperm form an embryo, the sperm’s mitochondria degrade, and the development of the fetus is completely dependent on the egg’s mitochondria.
Egg quality declines as we age due to decreasing hormones and mitochondria health.
What Can You Do?
Simple lifestyle changes and supplements may help improve both sperm and egg quality. Keep in mind that fertility improvements will take 4- 6 months, which is the time it takes for eggs and sperm to mature. However, some studies have shown benefits in some parameters in as little as 1 month!
Lifestyle changes -
- Nourish your Eggs and Hormones - A healthy, well-balanced diet plays a vital role in fertility. While I’m not a fan of diets, it would be remiss of us not to mention that the Mediterranean diet has been the subject of many nutritional studies, and research even shows that it may benefit fertility. Be sure to eat lots of healthy fats, fibre, protein and antioxidants. Aim for 20g of protein at each meal.
- Get Sunshine Everyday - Vitamin D plays a vital role in fertility health by increasing the production of hormones and reducing inflammation. Supplementing with vitamin D can also increase anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). AMH is a marker used to estimate a person’s ovarian reserve, which is the number of eggs left.
- Increase Blood Flow to Your Eggs - Exercises allow the proper flow of blood through your body and to your reproductive organs. You need proper blood flow to the ovaries to maintain good egg health. It also improves overall health, hormonal health, and releases stress, all which contribute to a healthy reproductive system.
- Prioritize Sleep - Getting enough quality sleep is crucial for optimal fertility health. Your brain’s pineal gland releases a hormone called melatonin to help stimulate sleepiness and regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant that improves egg quality, prevents oxidative stress, and regulates hormones. Inadequate sleep can cause a decrease in melatonin, which can impact egg quality and overall fertility.
Supplements to Optimize Egg Health
A high-quality prenatal vitamin is associated with better birth outcomes than folic acid and iron alone. This type of supplement will also ensure you have all the necessary nutrients to conceive and grow a healthy baby. It is recommended that you start taking a prenatal at least 3 months prior to conception to replenish all nutrient stores. The CDC recommends all women of reproductive age at least 400 mcg of folic acid per day.
Melatonin is well-known for its involvement in regulating circadian rhythm— your body’s internal clock. Studies show it improves fertility and reproductive health. Melatonin acts as a potent antioxidant by reducing oxidative stress caused by free radicals and toxins. Melatonin receptors are also found within the ovaries. Melatonin has a direct effect on ovarian function, implantation, endometrial lining and egg quality. Melatonin also improved live birth rates with people undergoing IVF and they had higher quality embryos.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in fertility health by increasing the production of hormones and reducing inflammation. Supplementing with vitamin D can also increase anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). AMH is a marker used to estimate a person’s ovarian reserve, which is the number of eggs left. A lack of vitamin D may also play a role in reproductive disorders such as PCOS, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
Mitochondrial health is very important for reproductive success and fertility. Your eggs have the highest amount of mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA. That means that any threat to the mitochondria has a significant impact on egg quality and fertility. CoQ10 is particularly important because it protects against oxidative stress. Supplementing with CoQ10 at a dosage of 100 to 600 mg per day is associated with improved egg quality and pregnancy outcomes in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), recurrent pregnancy loss, preeclampsia, poor ovarian reserve, and advanced age.
Supplementing with omega-3 improves fertility by improving egg quality, implantation rates, supporting egg and fetal development, and reducing oxidative stress. Omega-3 can also improve fertility in older people and those with diabetes. Research clearly shows the importance of omega-3 from pre-pregnancy to birth.
You can get all of these supplements from Fertilitae HERE.
Now, it would be remiss of me to leave out our male counterparts who make up 50% of the quality here. So if you’d like some tips on increasing the quality of sperm, you can check out our blogs here -
Top nutrients to improve sperm health
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