Improving Egg Quality
Egg quality is a very important factor to look into when trying to conceive, either naturally or through other means such as IVF. This is because egg quality determines how prepared your eggs are to develop into embryos once fertilized - the more prepared they are, the greater the chances of conception. However, most people are unaware that they need to begin thinking about the quality of their eggs before they start trying to conceive. In fact, for many this doesn’t become a consideration until after they have already begun trying to conceive and find themselves struggling. The good thing is that even though all women are born with a finite number of eggs, and their number does deplete the older one gets, their quality is determined by your lifestyle. So, the more you care for and nurture yourself, and strengthen the health of your whole body, the more prepared your eggs will be to support your fertility and your chances of birthing a healthy child.
90 Days to Improvement
It takes 3 months to see an improvement in egg quality. Between days 90 and 20 before ovulation, your eggs are changing to prepare for ovulation - this is the window you have to affect them positively.Egg quality is affected by many things and can be affected both positively and negatively.
Some factors that eggs are affected by are:
Blood flow and proper oxygenation
Exposure to toxins
Improving Egg Quality
There are many ways to improve egg quality. Not all the ways need to be done in order to see positive change. For some, picking one thing and sticking to it for 90 days can be the key to success. For others, making a few changes is essential.
It can be overwhelming to look at the list below and feel like you need to completely upend your life in order to improve your egg quality. But remember, small steps done consistently provide much more good to the body than making large stressful changes that we are unable to carry out for more than a few days.
Ways to improve egg quality include:
Balancing your hormones
Eating a healthy diet
Supplements to complement your diet
Adding in complementary therapies
Reducing EMF exposure
Reducing lifestyle toxins
Reducing environment toxins
Detox heavy metals and chemicals
To make this most successful for you, read all of the suggestions below, and decide which one or two you can work into your life (items that you are not currently doing) with the least amount of difficulty. Sit down for 5-10 minutes and write out a plan about how you will integrate these to your life for the next 90 days. Implement your strategies for 90 days and evaluate how you feel. If you are doing well and feel good, see if you can add more strategies to the ones you’ve already started. This will give you a better chance at increasing your egg quality one small step at a time and increase your overall vitality, too!
Balance Your Hormones
Balancing estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are important as the entire menstrual cycle relies on them, and having healthy hormones will help to keep your eggs healthy.
If you believe you are struggling from a hormonal imbalance reach out to a holistic practitioner for support. They will guide and support you in making the best choices for you and your body + some helpful recommendations for blood work, etc.
When you know which hormones are either too low or too high, a protocol can be put in place to help balance them.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is key to keeping your body and your ovaries, healthy.
Aim to have a diet that includes:
Plenty of fruit and vegetables
Plenty of antioxidant-rich foods antioxidants help reduce the production of free radicals which cause cell damage (remember, your eggs are cells, too) They also help slow down aging and decrease inflammation
Lots of fiber adds bulk to stools which allows clearance of excess hormones (one of our main forms of detoxification)
Plenty of good quality fats, including raw nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil these help to make the hormones we need!
High-quality protein, such as, organic eggs and yogurt, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised organic chicken & turkey, and wild caught fish Important macronutrient needed to build and repair tissue and support hormone production
8-10 glasses of water daily Water helps regulate body temperature, protects organs and tissues, flushes waste out of the liver and kidneys, delivers nutrients, and encourages healthy bowel movements (water gets things moving)
Turmeric - Its anti-inflammatory properties that derive from its active compound, curcumin, support the body to suppress any inflammation that may impact the journey towards ovulation.
Ginger - Provides protection for the ovaries and eggs from stress and oxidative damage through its high antioxidant content.
Cinnamon - Balances both blood sugar and hormones. It can also be helpful for infertility issues for those with PCOS.
It’s always best to have a diet that is mostly unprocessed, non-GMO, additive-free, and organic, however, that’s not always possible for everyone to do, so do the best you can. Any positive changes (small, consistent ones) make a large impact on your body over time.
Aim to reduce from your diet:
Conventionally raised animal products
Highly-processed vegetable fats and oils
Low-fat food products
typically these products replace fat with more sugar and sodium to improve the taste
Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine
try keeping to 2 servings of alcohol a week and 1 cup of caffeine a day
Reducing doesn’t have to mean never have it again, it just means to have less of it than you do now until you can reach what you consider to be an optimum level for your body. For some (especially those with deeper hormonal imbalance, health issues, etc.), this may mean completely giving up the things that are not serving your body through the healing process. Giving yourself some leniency, especially when eating out, can allow you to reduce stress while still positively changing your diet. Think of everything you take in as nourishment and a blessing to your body, and tune into what feels like it may not be helping to support your fertility.
Supportive Supplements (to complement your diet)
Supplements are a great way to provide a baseline of nutrients to your body. They also allow us to add in additional doses of key nutrients over a time period to help specific conditions. It’s best to work with a holistic practitioner prior to taking or combining herbs & supplements.
Supplements to improve egg quality include:
Including a prenatal multivitamin will allow your body to get the base nutrients required specifically for your body to grow a baby
You can start taking this 6 months - 1 year before you would like to conceive
Look for a prenatal that includes folate in its methylated form, called l-methylfolate
A powerful antioxidant that supports the function of the mitochondria, which directly impacts egg quality
Try: at least 300 mg/day in capsule form. You can go up to 600 mg/day or more, but speak to your holistic practitioner before doing so
A specific form of an essential B-vitamin that can improve egg quality, as it is required to enhance the quality of the maturing egg
Research has shown that taking myo-inositol with folate (included in your prenatal multivitamin) results in a larger number of good quality eggs than just taking folate alone
Try: 1000-2000 mg per day most sources recommend 1000-2000 mg per day Many studies used 4000 mg per day for 3 months prior to IVF for women who failed previous IVF due to egg quality. *MI levels are depleted by caffeine so caffeine should be eliminated.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
EPA helps to reduce inflammation in the body and supports the health of cell membranes and DHA is important for brain health
Try: 2000-3000 mg/day
A hormone that is the precursor of testosterone and estrogen, and it can also stimulate follicular development
Try: 75 mg/day to improve egg quality
Note: do not use this without specific instructions from your holistic practitioner as it should be used with caution. Do not take if already pregnant, nursing, or if you have PCOS, and do not continue supplementation for more than 3 months at a time
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that our bodies produce which supports and recycles other antioxidants (Vitamin E & C)
Try: 250-500mg/day to improve egg quality and prevent oxidative damage or focus on sulphur-rich foods such as garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables to support the synthesis of glutathione in the body.
*Maca Root – Helps to balance the body’s hormones which is essential for proper egg health. If hormones become unbalanced in the body, the egg may not respond and ovulation may not occur. Try in powder or capsule form. (helpful for boosting sperm count as well!)
*Rhodiola - High stress can affect the quality of eggs as the body produces excess cortisol that leads to delays in sections of luteinizing-hormone and follicle-stimulating-hormone. Both of these hormones are essential to preparing for ovulation and imbalances can affect egg quality. Rhodiola is a gentle adaptogen that helps the body regulate stress and promotes balanced ovulation.Try in tincture form.
*Black Cohosh - Balances estrogen in the body which is important for ovulation. It also works in stimulating the ovaries and the eggs inside. Try as a tea or infusion.
*Damiana - Used before ovulation it helps to balance hormone levels and improves libido while stimulating, strengthening, and toning the reproductive organs. This creates a beautiful environment for egg performance and quality. It also helps with egg follicle maturation. Try in tea or tincture form.
*Vitex (Chasteberry) – Helps set up the foundation for egg quality by providing the body with necessary hormones for ovulation to occur (i.e. follicle-stimulating-hormone and progesterone). Vitex supports the secretion of these hormones which in turns creates the environment for an egg to function at its best. Try in tincture or capsule form.
Reduce Stress Reducing stress is important when trying to improve egg quality, as stress can cause inflammation and hormonal imbalance in the body. Trying to conceive can be a very stressful time in your life, so you do not need to look at eliminating all sources of stress, but do try to eliminate or lower the ones you can. In addition, it’s best to have ways to cope with stress when you are going through a difficult time. Look to specific people in your life that you can turn to for support, such as friends and family. You can also look for professional support such as a counselor, therapist or spiritual mentor, who can help to guide you through your thoughts and feelings during this time.
Add in Complementary Therapies While trying to increase the quality of your eggs, it is great to add in additional complementary therapies. These include acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine. If you choose any of these therapies, make sure your main holistic practitioner is aware of it and all the things they have you doing, to make sure multiple protocols do not interfere with each other.
Exercise Exercising on a consistent basis helps to improve blood flow and circulation, which in turn helps to oxygenate the blood. This can be really great for improving egg quality. Find types of exercise that work best for your body without going too hard. Exercises to consider include:
Walking or running
Reduce EMF Exposure to your Ovaries All electronics have EMF or electromagnetic fields. While EMF exposure has already been proven to decrease sperm quality, it can also harm the quality of your eggs! To reduce your exposure try:
Not placing your cellphone in your pocket
If you need to place it in your pocket, turn it on airplane mode first
Not putting your laptop over your ovaries/abdomen/lap while working (this is helpful for your partner as well!)
The best way to reduce this exposure is to buy an EMF shield for your laptop
Cheaper solutions include placing a barrier between you and the laptop, such as a pillow, book or piece of wood. This will not fully shield the exposure but can lessen it
Reduce Your “Toxic Load” Our bodies detoxify daily by prioritizing getting rid of any toxins harmful to us, as well as general “cleaning”. When we reduce the toxins that we put on or in our body daily, our body can focus more on the general “cleaning”.
Reducing lifestyle toxins are a great way to decrease our daily toxic load. Lifestyle toxins can include:
Body care products
To figure out the toxic load of the products in your home and what to switch them out with, look at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website or use the Think Dirty app. Both resources rate products based on the cleanliness of their ingredients and provide recommendations on alternatives. When trying to determine what to switch out first, look at the products you use most often, as these likely place more load on your body than the things you use only once weekly.
Easy swaps include:
Changing the hand soap in your bathroom
Switching out your body wash, shampoo, and conditioner
Switching out your moisturizer/body lotion
Switching out your face creams and serums
Changing your everyday surface cleaners
Reduce Environmental Toxins
As with reducing lifestyle toxins, reducing environmental toxins will also decrease our body’s overall toxic load and allow the body to spend more time doing general “cleaning”.
Common environmental toxins include:
If you smoke, work to stop as quickly as you can as it adds a large toxic load to your body, and is not something you should be doing while trying to conceive or while pregnant
Can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body; exposure to it can lower fertility (as well as predispose you to developing cancer later in life)
Can be found in: plastics including water bottles and food containers, the metal lining of food containers and drink cans, any plastics labeled #7
Try: using glass or stainless steel water bottles, glass food storage containers, packaged foods in glass jars rather than cans, microwaving foods in glass or ceramic dishes only, and avoiding drinking water bottled in plastic
These are chemicals added to plastics to increase flexibility, as well as to personal-care products to hold fragrance
Exposure is linked to reduced testosterone levels
Can be found in: vinyl, and many body and hair care products that contain “fragrance” or “parfum” as an ingredient
Try: phthalate-free body and hair care products (or those labeled fragrance-free)
Detox Heavy Metals and Chemicals
Heavy metals and chemicals can contribute to many reproductive disorders. If you think this may be affecting your body, have your holistic practitioner assess your heavy metal load through hair analysis, a blood test, or urine test. When you know which heavy metals and chemicals are high, a proper protocol to detox those chemicals can be made. Note that detoxing from these cannot be done while trying to conceive, as the process can be harmful to a potential fetus/baby. It’s best for this to be done prior to trying to conceive, or when you are on a break from trying. In addition, know that your body detoxes itself daily and though it will not detox heavy metals on its own, other options like cleaning up your diet and reducing your exposure to environmental and lifestyle toxins will help to lighten your body’s overall toxic load.