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Improve egg quality to increase chances of getting pregnant

By The Health News Team | April 25, 2023
Floral depiction of woman's uterus

Egg quality can impact a person’s ability to conceive. So, many people who are trying to get pregnant turn to the internet to find ways to improve their egg quality. Faced with advice to drink strange concoctions or try miracle “quick fixes,” they often find themselves wondering which treatments actually work and whether there are “natural” remedies for boosting egg quality and fertility.

Egg quality is a broad term used to describe the ability of eggs to fertilize and develop into a growing fetus, then into a baby. The number of chromosomes (an egg’s genetic material) in intact eggs is one marker of egg quality. An egg is considered normal if it has 23 chromosomes.

Both age and biological family tree play a role in determining egg quality. However, they are not the only determining factors.

The effect of age on fertility

According to Dr. Arlene Morales, a reproductive endocrinologist affiliated with Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, a lot of factors are involved when it comes to what affects fertility.

“On average, women are getting pregnant later in life,” Dr. Morales says. “Eighty-five percent of couples in which the woman is under 35 years old will get pregnant within the first year of trying to conceive; the majority of those within the first six months.”

Unfortunately, eggs have an irreversible expiration period, Dr. Morales says. Women are born with the total number of eggs they will have in their lifetime, and this number drastically decreases with age. “By age 40, women will be down to just about 3% of their pre-birth egg supply,” she says.

Fertility declines once a woman reaches her 30s, and pregnancy chances decrease after age 35. This is because the remaining eggs have a higher chance of developing chromosomal abnormalities — genetic conditions that can occur due to a problem with chromosomes. This can cause embryos to fail to implant.

Taking charge of your fertility

Dr. Morales says women can improve the quality of their limited supply of eggs and take charge of their fertility. “We can map out a thorough blueprint of a woman’s reproductive situation through ultrasound and bloodwork, but it is not exact,” she says. “However, certain lifestyle behaviors can positively affect egg quality.”

To improve egg quality, Dr. Morales recommends you:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. Proper diet and nutrition directly impact overall health, including fertility. Avoid excessive bread, processed foods and sugar-rich foods. Too many refined carbohydrates and trans fats can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. Aim for a nutrient-rich diet with a higher balance of protein, leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables, especially those that provide vitamins and antioxidants.

    Anti-inflammatory diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, are proven to be helpful for improving fertility. Additionally, an antioxidant supplement, such as CoQ10, can help women going through reproductive aging, a natural process that leads to a decrease in both the number and quality of eggs within the ovaries.

  2. Achieve a normal BMI. A normal body mass index can help improve the odds of conceiving. Obesity can heighten oxidative stress on your cells and has been linked to a decreased quality of eggs.

  3. Manage stress and sleep. Prolonged or chronic stress produces hormones such as cortisol, which can cause a hormonal imbalance and interfere with ovulation. Meditation, relaxing and practicing other stress-management techniques is important. Additionally, establishing healthy sleep habits contributes to the health of a woman’s eggs. During sleep, the body repairs cells and recovers lost energy.

  4. Don’t use nicotine and THC. Nicotine is toxic to the cells of our body, including egg cells. When you smoke, your ovaries lose eggs faster due to the chemicals in cigarettes. Consuming and smoking cannabis (marijuana) products can have the same effect.

  5. Boost blood flow. Improving oxygen-rich blood flow to the ovaries through exercise, yoga and movement can help improve egg quality and rid the body of toxins. Drinking more water and staying hydrated can also assist this process.

Dr. Morales recommends women speak with their OBGYN or a reproductive endocrinologist to get educated about their fertility and plan for their reproductive goals. “Even though age is still one of the most significant determining factors in determining fertility, studies have shown these are other ways to improve egg quality and increase the chance of pregnancy,” she says.

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