Egg quality is one of the most common reasons why women don’t fall pregnant and is a vital aspect of fertility.
Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally or are considering IVF, egg quality is of utmost importance and is a term you have most likely heard of if you’ve been trying to conceive.
Right off the bat, I’m here to tell you that you can improve the quality of your eggs….contrary to what many believed in the past.
Females are born with as many eggs as they’re ever going to have. At birth, a baby girl has about 1 to 2 million of them and about 300,000 by the time she hits puberty.
The eggs are nestled in fluid filled cavities called follicles.
As time goes on, the number of eggs you have dramatically decreases so what you don’t have control over is the quantity. However, you do have control over the quality of your eggs.
The thing is that the eggs are all there and the number is fixed but they’re not “mature” yet. These immature eggs just wait in the ovaries until puberty at which point they take turns ripening (or growing and maturing) and then one dominant one bursts out of its follicle to be released through what we know as ovulation. The eggs (or more accurately follicles) are dormant until such time that they’re recruited and begin to mature and grow to get ready for ovulation.
The time it takes from the egg being recruited to the time it’s ovulated is 100 days (or 3 to 4 months).
This 3 to 4 months prior to ovulation has the biggest impact on the quality of your eggs because when they’re maturing, they’re greatly affected by their environment...both positively and negatively.
In the process of maturation and growth, eggs are very vulnerable to damage if in an unhealthy environment.
If in the 100 days prior to conception you’re taking care of your health to the fullest, you can mature and grow the best eggs possible and have better egg quality. More on exactly how to do this a little later 🙂
In my clinical practice, I see a higher pregnancy rate, less miscarriages and better IVF outcomes when women have used the 3 to 4 months prior to conception to get healthier and prepare their bodies to get pregnant.
Here's Why Improving Egg Quality is Possible
Let’s go a little deeper for those of you who thought that improving egg quality was impossible...
So...according to many people in the past, increasing the quality of eggs was impossible or beyond our abilities because how can you improve the genetic quality of an old egg? An egg whose genetic material was created so many years prior?
It’s true that, as said earlier in this post, when we were still embryo’s, we had all our eggs that we were ever going to have. However, the egg is more than its nucleus with its chromosomes (DNA). The genetic material of the egg is contained within its nucleus.
The rest of the workings of the egg is contained in its cytoplasm where the mitochondria resides. The mitochondria is responsible for providing energy for the cell.
It’s the mitochondria that provides the energy that drives the divisions of the early embryo and its successful implantation. This is a super important point to remember.
That being said, if we focus on the mitochondria we're golden! Our goal is to boost the energy production by the mitochondria. When we do that, we will have more cellular energy which boosts the quality of the eggs.
What eggs need for proper growth and maturation:
What can negatively affect Egg Quality?
The most obvious and common one is age. In a younger person’s egg, the mitochondria are active producing more cellular energy.
In an older person’s egg (say over age 35), the mitochondria are less active producing less cellular energy.
Having said this, I don't want you to feel hopeless if you're thinking about your age right now. Maybe you've been told by your doctor that your FSH levels are high for example. There are things you can do to lower your FSH levels and improve your fertility. Just keep reading.
Stress blocks proper blood flow and can cause hormonal imbalance.
When we’re under high levels of stress, blood is diverted away from our reproductive and digestive systems and heads toward larger muscle groups in order to be prepared for fight or flight.
It's okay once in a while to be really stressed, but in today’s world we’re under high stress all.the.time! Do you know anyone who isn't stressed? If you're constantly stressed, the blood keeps being diverted away from your reproductive organs causing poor egg health. Not good.
If you’re overweight and eating poor quality foods, you run the risk of inflammation which negatively affects egg quality.
If your diet is low in healthy fats and protein, this can also negatively affect your egg quality. You need fats to produce hormones and support egg health.
This particularly includes toxins that are referred to as endocrine disruptors which have been shown to cause hormonal imbalance which then poorly affects egg quality.
How To Improve Your Egg Quality Starting Now
Why Acupuncture Works So Well To Improve Egg Quality
There’s so much that Chinese medicine and acupuncture can do in those 100 days to help egg quality.
Acupuncture improves fertility by reducing stress, releasing endorphins, regulating the menstrual cycle and improving blood flow to the ovaries, uterus and endometrial lining. It's function of generating more blood flow, hormones, oxygen and nutrients to the reproductive organs is key to enhancing egg quality.
I highly recommend weekly acupuncture for a minimum of 3 to 4 months.
If you’re going through IVF or IUI or considering it for the future, Chinese medicine and acupuncture complement each other and are a magical union.
Read in my blog post how acupuncture improves IVF success here.
Let's Not Forget About The Men
There’s more and more research confirming that the health of the sperm is vital to increasing chances of conception and having a healthy baby. It’s of course not just up to the female.
Because it takes 90 days for the production of sperm, the window of 3 to 4 months prior to conception is crucial for both the female and male.
What I tell my male and female patients is that I like to work with them for at least 4 to 6 months before they fall pregnant in order to have the best egg and sperm quality possible.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine will improve the health of the sperm. This is also achieved by good nutrition, Chinese herbs, supplements, avoiding toxins and positive lifestyle changes.
I hope this shed some light for you on improving your egg quality and increasing your chances of having your miracle baby.
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Wishing you the best in your journey to parenthood 🙂