The quality of a woman’s eggs plays a key role in her fertility and her ability to have a baby. High-quality eggs have the best chance of developing into an embryo, implanting in the uterus, and resulting in a successful pregnancy.
This guide will help educate you on how to ensure your eggs are of the best quality possible for fertility. There is no guarantee of your egg quality or its improvement.
The best we can do is try to be as healthy as we can to up our odds of conception.
The Importance of Egg Quality for Fertility
High-quality eggs enable the embryo to develop and “stick” once it has entered the uterus. An embryo must be robust to continue through the early phases of development and finally result in pregnancy (high quality). A successful pregnancy is more likely to result from high-quality eggs and embryos.
This is why a woman’s age has a significant impact on her chances of having a healthy pregnancy. A woman’s capacity to produce eggs of excellent quality starts to decline as she gets older.
Egg quality refers to whether an egg is chromosomally “normal” (euploid) or “abnormal” (aneuploid). A chromosomally normal egg has 23 chromosomes, and when fertilized by the sperm, which also has 23 chromosomes, the resulting chromosomally normal embryo will have a total of 46 chromosomes.
All of a woman’s future eggs are there when she is born (approximately 1 to 2 million). The ovaries house the eggs (in the form of follicles), which are present at various stages of development and lose number and quality over time.
She will have around 300,000 potential eggs in her ovarian reserve by the time she enters adolescence. Only a few hundred eggs will actually ovulate during her reproductive years.
Fertility specialists can predict how well you will respond to ovarian-stimulating medications based on your age, medical history, and the findings of your ovarian reserve tests.
Keep in mind that only one healthy egg and sperm are required to make an embryo.
How Long Does It Take to Improve Egg Quality?
From the moment they are taken out of the waiting pool until ovulation, eggs develop over the course of around 90 days. As a result, 3–4 months before trying to conceive, fertility professionals advise taking vitamins, beginning acupuncture, and changing one’s diet and lifestyle.
If you believe you are in a time rush, don’t worry! Even for a month, implementing these adjustments might be beneficial and need to be done.
The following blood tests and ultrasounds can help identify your overall fertility potential and if you are ovulating.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test
A blood sample can be collected on the third day of the menstrual cycle to test for the follicle-development-essential hormone FSH. The brain’s pituitary gland interacts with the ovaries through FSH. Each month, it tells the ovaries that an egg should be produced.
It takes more and more FSH to keep the cycle going as the quality of the eggs decline because they become more resistant to the hormone. As a result, the quality of the eggs decreases as the FSH value increases.
Your doctor can evaluate the number of resting/antral follicles via a transvaginal ultrasound (AFC). The ultrasound is often conducted between days three and twelve of your period, and it counts all of the follicles in both ovaries that are between four and nine millimeters in length.
These eggs have the capacity to develop and be ovulated. You can experience issues with egg quality and quantity if you have fewer follicles.
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Test
The granulosa cells of early-developing eggs secrete AMH, a glycoprotein that aids in protecting and maturing the eggs. The granulosa cells and AMH diminish during the course of a lifetime as the quantity of eggs declines. The estimated number of eggs still present in the ovaries is provided by AMH.
Estradiol (E2) Test
The ovaries’ means of communication with the brain is E2, which they send together with FSH. As an ovarian follicle is being stimulated and growing in size, E2 levels rise. Estradiol levels should be under 50 pg/ml for assessment and to guarantee the reliability of the FSH value.
Early in the cycle, if it is raised beyond 50 pg/ml, it indicates that the ovaries are reacting quickly and that the quality of the eggs may be affected.
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How to Improve Egg Quality after 40
If you’re looking for techniques to enhance egg quality after 40, you probably already know that becoming pregnant after 40 is harder because a woman’s odds of getting pregnant decline with age.
While there is nothing we can do to stop the natural loss of eggs as we age, there are a number of fertility supplements you may use in addition to dietary and lifestyle modifications to boost the quality of your eggs after the age of 40 and eventually increase your chances of getting pregnant.
The proportion of chromosomally defective eggs that a woman produces increases dramatically with age. Women who are 40 years or older are more susceptible to developing chromosomal anomalies.
Women over 40 should pay particular attention to their diet, as diet can have a direct impact on egg quality.
Maintain a Healthy Weight for Higher Fertility
Most individuals are aware that being overweight or obese raises the risk of health issues including diabetes and heart disease. However, a lot of people aren’t aware that this can also lower fertility and the likelihood of having a healthy baby.
The more closely you are to a healthy weight, the better your chances are of conceiving (becoming pregnant) and having a healthy baby if you are trying to get pregnant or want to start trying.
Both male and female fertility can be enhanced by a nutritious diet and frequent exercise. Your likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby rises if you are at a healthy ideal weight. Your probability of becoming pregnant may be lowered if you are underweight or overweight.
If you’re obese, even a few pounds of weight loss might increase your fertility.
Exercise and Fertility
Exercise is essential for maintaining health at every stage of life, including pregnancy and infertility treatment. The straightforward advice of eating properly and exercising, however, is more complicated when it comes to your fertility.
Exercise should still be a part of your daily routine even if you don’t intend to lose weight. The risk of ovulatory-factor infertility is reduced by exercising for 30 minutes every day, but there is such a thing as too much good.
Overtraining or engaging in more than 60 minutes of physical exercise each day might actually have the opposite effect and may raise the possibility of infertility due to ovulatory factors.
The basic rule of thumb when it comes to exercise is to keep to physical endeavors and exercise regimens that invigorate rather than fatigue you.
Exercising for Overall Health
Regular fitness activities can help balance hormones, improve insulin, and decrease stress, all of which can enhance fertility. Exercise can also help you eliminate extra weight that may hinder conception. For people undergoing IVF, exercise is also a crucial component.
According to research, women who exercise frequently were more likely to report becoming pregnant after undergoing IVF. Regular exercise improves your general mental, physical, and emotional health in addition to promoting conception.
Exercise is crucial at any time, especially while trying to conceive, as it is one of the primary foundations of having a healthy life along with eating correctly.
BMI and Fertility
The first step in determining how your weight may influence your fertility is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which also provides a solid starting point for determining how much weight you should acquire during pregnancy.
If your BMI is under 18.5 or is more than 30, you run a higher chance of infertility. A healthy BMI range is 20 to 25. Even a small weight decrease can significantly increase fertility in people with a BMI of 30 or above.
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Foods That Naturally Boost Fertility in Women
Everyone is aware of the clear connection between adequate nutrition and health. That our nutrition directly affects our fertility should not come as a surprise.
You should consume foods like liver, fish, and full-fat dairy products when you’re trying to conceive in order to raise your fertility and the quality of your eggs. These foods are rich sources of vitamin A.
Oocyte quality, ovarian response, and embryonic development are all significantly influenced by adequate vitamin A levels. According to research, consuming foods rich in omega-3s, such as fish, oysters, and flax seeds, may help to maintain fertility and enhance the quality of eggs.
Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Antioxidants like zinc and folate may increase male and female fertility. They neutralize the body’s free radicals, which can harm both sperm and egg cells.
A 2012 study on young, adult men discovered that daily consumption of 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts enhanced the quality of their sperm.
Increased folate consumption was linked to higher chances of implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth, according to research including 232 women.
Although there is data indicating the possibility, it is still unclear how much antioxidants will or won’t affect fertility.
Beneficial antioxidants including vitamins C and E, folate, beta carotene, and lutein are abundant in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. It shouldn’t hinder the effort to consume more of these nutritious meals.
The Importance of Breakfast
Women with fertility issues may benefit from eating a substantial breakfast.
A substantial breakfast may help the hormonal consequences of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility, according to one research.
The majority of calories consumed at breakfast decreased insulin levels by 8% and testosterone levels by 50% in PCOS-afflicted women of intermediate weight. Infertility may be exacerbated by high doses of either.
Additionally, these women ovulated more by the conclusion of the 12-week research than women who ate a smaller breakfast and a bigger dinner, indicating enhanced fertility.
It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that eating more at breakfast without eating less at dinner will probably make you gain weight.
Stop Consuming Trans Fats
Eating wholesome fats regularly is crucial for improving fertility and general health.
However, because trans fats have a negative impact on insulin sensitivity, they raise the likelihood of ovulatory infertility.
Trans fats are typically included in certain margarine, fried meals, processed items, and baked goods and are frequently found in hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Studies have shown a relationship between infertility in both men and women and a diet high in trans fats and low in unsaturated fats.
Cut the Carbs for PCOS
Women with PCOS are typically advised to follow a reduced-carb diet, where fewer than 45% of calories originate from carbohydrates.
Numerous studies have shown that controlling carbohydrate consumption has a positive impact on various elements of PCOS.
Lower carbohydrate diets may support menstruation regularity, help you maintain a healthy weight, lower insulin levels, and promote fat reduction.
Stay Away from Refined Carbs
Speaking of carbohydrates, the kind is just as essential as the quantity.
Carbs that have been refined may pose specific risks. Sugary meals and beverages as well as processed grains, such as white pasta, bread, and rice, are examples of refined carbohydrates.
These carbohydrates are absorbed relatively fast, which raises insulin and blood sugar levels. Additionally, refined carbohydrates have a high glycemic index (GI).
Your GI will let you know if a food high in carbohydrates will considerably elevate your blood sugar levels.
Ovarian hormones and insulin have a similar chemical makeup. Our eggs develop due to these hormones.
Because the body believes it doesn’t require reproductive hormones, chronically increased insulin levels can have this effect. This may prevent ovulation and delay egg maturation.
Refined carbohydrates can exacerbate PCOS since the condition is linked to excessive insulin levels.
Fiber Is Your Friend
Fiber maintains a healthy blood sugar level and aids in the body’s removal of extra hormones. By adhering to excess estrogen in the intestines, some fibers can aid in its removal. The extra estrogen is then eliminated from the body as waste.
Soluble fiber, which may be found in foods like avocados, sweet potatoes, oats, and fruits, has been linked to reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone in an earlier 2009 study. The largest correlation between reduced estrogen concentrations and soluble fiber was found in fruit.
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans are a few examples of foods high in fiber. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily, while males should consume 31 grams.
Add More Plant-Based Protein to Your Diet
Lower risk of infertility has been associated with substituting plant-based protein sources like beans, nuts, and seeds for some animal proteins including meat, fish, and eggs.
Research found that the incidence of ovulatory infertility fell by more than 50% when 5% of total calories were made up of vegetable protein rather than animal protein.
According to a 2018 study, consuming more fish is associated with a better likelihood of having a live birth after receiving infertility therapy.
Think about substituting part of the protein in your diet with sources like almonds, low-mercury seafood, beans, lentils, and vegetables.
Consume High Fat Dairy
High intakes of dairy products with minimal fat may raise your risk of infertility, but high intakes of dairy products with fat may lower it.
A significant 2007 research examined the impact of consuming high-fat dairy products more frequently than once daily or less than once per week.
It was shown that women who ate one or more servings of high-fat dairy products daily had a 27 percent lower risk of infertility.
Try switching one low-fat dairy serving each day for one high-fat dairy serving, such as a glass of whole milk or full-fat yogurt, to experience these possible advantages.
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Vitamins and Supplements for Women’s Fertility
Ovulatory infertility could be less common if you take multivitamins.
In fact, if women take three or more multivitamins each week, they may be able to prevent 20% of ovulatory infertility. The micronutrients in vitamins are crucial for fertility.
A multivitamin with folate may be especially helpful for women who are attempting to get pregnant.
Consult your doctor about using any multivitamins or other supplements that could help you become pregnant.
Fish Oil Omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids, such as those in fish oil supplements, certain nuts, and seafood, are excellent for promoting general health. Omega 3 fatty acids provide several advantages for both male and female reproductive health, specifically in terms of fertility.
Omega-3 fatty acids for women have been shown to enhance healthy fetal and newborn development, boost pregnancy rates and support egg quality, and slow ovarian aging. Omega 3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to maintain normal sperm count, motility, and morphology in males.
CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Every cell in the human body contains the biomolecule coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which occurs naturally in the body. It alternates between the inactive form ubiquinol and its two common states, ubiquinone.
It serves as a strong antioxidant and is essential for the production of cellular energy. As we grow older, our bodies produce less CoQ10 and we become less capable of converting it into its active form.
CoQ10 has thus been extensively studied to see if it can improve sperm and egg quality as well as other elements of male and female fertility. It is also used frequently as a dietary supplement to promote other areas of health and wellbeing.
It is well known that fertility decreases with age and that this reduction is far more pronounced and abrupt in women. The quantity and quality of the eggs that women have access to as they age (ovarian reserve) are what we particularly mean when we state that women become less fertile as they get older.
Coenzyme Q10 levels fall as we age. According to a 2015 study, low levels of CoQ10 can cause oocyte deficiencies and age-related fertility decreases.
The good news is that the same study’s findings showed that adding CoQ10 to a diet may be able to stop the quantity and quality of oocytes from declining with age.
CoQ10, to put it simply, can support egg quality as you age.
However, CoQ10 has been demonstrated to benefit people of all ages. The quality of eggs and embryos as well as conception rates in younger women have all been proven to be improved by coenzyme Q10.
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Smoking and Fertility
Smoking can affect fertility in the following ways:
- Smoking can have detrimental health impacts on fertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant.
- According to research, smoking can lower fertility, making it more challenging to get pregnant.
- The synthesis of hormones may be negatively impacted by smoking.
- Inhaling tobacco smoke can be harmful to the reproductive system.
- Sperm DNA can be damaged by smoking.
Smoking and Fetal Development
Smoking during pregnancy can lead to harm to the unborn child’s health, miscarriage, and even death.
Smoking while pregnant might increase your risk of issues including premature labor and delivery.
Smoking while pregnant might also have a harmful impact on the unborn child’s health. Around 400,000 American children are exposed to tobacco smoke and associated toxins while still in the womb each year.
These infants are susceptible to a variety of problems, such as:
- Cleft lip and/or cleft palate, are birth malformations.
- Infant Sudden Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Low weight at birth.
- Lungs that do not adequately develop.
You may be at risk for an ectopic pregnancy due to the toxins in cigarette smoke. Ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg is rejected by the womb and instead starts to develop outside of it.
The unborn child almost always dies from this catastrophic ailment, and the mother occasionally passes away as well.
Additionally, there is some evidence that smoking while pregnant may cause the fetus or unborn child to miscarry.
Talk with your doctor if you need help to stop smoking.
Caffeine and Fertility
Caffeine consumption below 200 milligrams per day does not appear to have an impact on female fertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. One or two 6- to 8-ounce cups of coffee per day could be the maximum amount of caffeine you should consume.
When attempting to conceive and when pregnant, experts advise avoiding coffee.
According to some research, women who consume a lot of caffeine may have a harder time getting pregnant as well as a slightly increased chance of miscarriage and low birth weight.
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Does Alcohol Affect Fertility?
Research indicates that even moderate drinking can lengthen the time it takes to become pregnant and decrease the likelihood of having a healthy baby, even if the precise effects of alcohol on female fertility are unknown.
Heavy or irregular periods and reproductive issues are more common in women who use substantial amounts of alcohol (seven or more drinks per week or more than three in one sitting).
Alcohol might interfere with ovulation, which can make it challenging to get pregnant.
Heavy drinking among males has been linked to impotence, decreased desire and performance, and a decline in sperm quality.
The good news is that women who give up alcohol during pregnancy and while attempting to conceive increase their chances of having a healthy child.
Men who restrict their alcohol usage during pregnancy can support a healthy pregnancy.
When others around you don’t drink, quitting drinking is simpler. Your chances of becoming pregnant will rise if you and your spouse or acquaintance refrain from drinking. Both you and your baby will benefit from it in terms of health.
How Does Stress Affect Fertility?
Recent research has linked a woman’s daily stress levels to a decreased probability of getting pregnant. For instance, it took 29 percent longer for women to become pregnant when their salivary alpha-amylase levels were higher than normal, an enzyme that indicates stress.
Your body is intelligent; it understands that stressful times are not ideal for getting pregnant.
In addition, stressed women are probably less likely to engage in sexual activity and more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, or overindulge in caffeine; habits that do little to increase their chances.
Getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can help reduce stress. And if needed, don’t be too proud to talk to a therapist.
Sleep and Fertility
All of us need sleep to maintain our quality of life, general health, and, most significantly, fertility.
A sound night’s sleep aids in rejuvenating and restoring your brain and organ systems as well as regulating vital hormones in your body, including those that affect fertility.
Sleep Can Affect Hormones
More than one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The same area of the brain that controls sleep-wake hormones (including melatonin and cortisol) also controls the daily release of reproductive hormones in both men and women.
There may be a connection between the hormones that cause ovulation in females and the development of sperm in males and their sleep-wake cycles.
For instance, if you’re a woman, a sustained lack of sleep may negatively impact the luteinizing hormone, or LH, which is responsible for initiating ovulation and controlling your monthly cycle.
It could take you longer to get pregnant as a result of the accompanying monthly irregularity.
Sleep Affects Fertility in Other Ways
According to research, lack of sleep may also have indirect effects on fertility, such as making you grumpy and agitated.
This may eventually cause problems in your marriage or sexual partnership and reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Lack of sleep also increases your vulnerability to disorders and illnesses that might harm your fertility. Diabetes, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) illness and obesity are a few of them.
The below guidelines should help you:
- Respect your own sleep needs: While 8 hours is generally considered to be the ideal amount of sleep, needs can vary from person to person and slightly from season to season.
- Get outside: Aim to spend an hour or more outside each day, even if you have to divide it up into several 10-minute strolls.
- Avoid working unusual hours: Avoid shift employment if at all feasible as it may impact fertility.
- Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time: Try to go to sleep and rise at the same time every day, especially on the weekends.
- Avoid anything that can distract your mind from relaxing into a restful sleep before night, such as paying bills, reading novels, or watching movies with upsetting plots. Instead, establish regular relaxing rituals like couple massages and spiritual introspection.
- Dim the lights: A person who struggles to fall asleep may benefit from adjusting the illumination by dimming the lights and utilizing low-wattage bulbs at night.
- Separate stimulants from sleep by a comfortable distance: When attempting to get pregnant, use coffee and alcohol in moderation, and try not to use them more than five hours before night.
Acupuncture and IVF
There is a lot of proof that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates. A study on 160 women receiving IVF therapy was done in 2002. Two groups of participants were formed. Acupuncture was administered to one group while it was not administered to the other group.
According to research, individuals who got acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer had a pregnancy rate of 42.5%, compared to 26.3 % for women in the control group who did not get acupuncture.
What is Acupuncture?
Hair-thin, surgically sterilized needles are used during acupuncture, a kind of traditional Chinese medicine, to activate certain energy pathways in the body.
Since ancient times, the Chinese have utilized acupuncture to cure a wide range of illnesses, lessen pain, and enhance overall health.
Due to the vast amount of science-backed studies demonstrating very genuine benefits over the past few decades, this eastern treatment that was formerly regarded as alternative medicine by western practitioners has become extremely popular.
How Does Acupuncture Improve IVF Success Rates?
The success rates of IVF can be increased with acupuncture by:
- Lowered risk of miscarriage
- Reducing possible infertility-causing inflammation
- Controlling menstrual cycle
- Increasing the chance of pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Enhancing sperm count and motility (movement)
- Lowering the stress and worry brought on by infertility
- Restoring the balance of the endocrine and hormonal systems
- Blood supply to the reproductive organs is improved (uterus and testes)
The Embryo Freezing Process
Embryos are created by fertilizing eggs after they have been removed from the ovaries, growing them for a few days, and then freezing them.
The fertilized eggs (embryos) can be implanted in the patient or in a third party after being thawed.
Today, it is common practice to transfer thawed frozen embryos, and pregnancy rates are comparable to, and occasionally even greater than those of unfrozen embryos.
In the late 1980s, the first successful surgery was performed.
Why Would Someone Want Their Embryos Frozen?
Multiple embryos may arise from a successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, and some people decide to store the additional embryos for a future family.
Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) patients frequently freeze their embryos following the test because it usually takes more than a week to get the findings.
Another method that can help maintain future fertility is freezing embryos.
The fertility of some people who elect to have this procedure is being affected by hormone medication, cancer treatment, gender affirmation surgery, or other medical interventions.
In some circumstances, your doctor can advise freezing your embryos to reduce the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a condition that might get worse after pregnancy.
If some hormone levels are excessively high throughout the IVF cycle, it could also be advised to increase the likelihood of conception.
- John Hopkins Medicine
- PubMed Central
- CNY Fertility
- Very Well Family
- Mayo Clinic
- Better Health Channel
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.