10 Proven Ways to Improve Egg Quality for IVF & Pregnancy
Women trying to conceive with the help of IVF or naturally are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of eggs and their chances of conceiving. For a pregnancy to be successful, the most crucial factor is the quality of your gametes, and it can be enhanced by following the correct protocol.
Unlike men, who produce sperm every three months, women are naturally born with 1-2 million eggs, and out of that, only 300-500 mature throughout your lifetime. As you age, your ability to conceive and the quality of eggs deteriorate.
There has been an increase in the rate of infertility worldwide. Experts are now concerned and investigating environmental and health factors that could influence the deterioration of egg quality. Apart from poor egg quality causing conception problems, it may also be responsible for causing chronic health problems found in offspring.
How long does it take to improve egg quality for IVF?
There’s a high chance that you come across many people who give you a lot of advice on different ways to improve the quality of your gametes, but the information can only help you when implemented at the correct time.
Therapeutic intervention for improving the quality of eggs is only applicable when the egg is going through the maturation process and not when it’s already matured (ready to be released).
Dominant follicles prepare to release the egg in 12-13 months. Towards the final 120 days, the maturation process hastens. A highly energy-intensive process occurs during the last three months of the maturation process, and the egg is stripped with 23 chromosomes. At this time, you’re required to put all your efforts towards practising improving egg quality.
Even though age plays a significant role in the quality of eggs, it’s not the only main factor. Various factors can affect developing eggs’ quality and response to external or natural hormonal stimulation, such as hormonal imbalance, excessive smoking, inflammation, drug abuse, environmental contaminants, poor diet, stress, etc.
How to determine the quality of your eggs?
There is no specific method that can accurately determine the quality eggs before extracting them, but common indicators are used to provide you with an idea, including:
- FSH: The quality of your ovaries is questionable when they fail to react to the standard signal of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). On days 2-3 of periods in a woman, higher levels of FSH could indicate that they have diminished reserve or the eggs are of poorer quality.
- AMH: Anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) is another way to gauge ovarian reserve. The levels tend to decrease as we age, and lower levels of AMH are a clear indication of poor ovarian reserve which often is related to poor quality eggs.
However, you should note that women can conceive even with poor ovarian reserve as long as the few eggs available are of good quality.
Fortunately, you need just one healthy egg for fertilization to occur to get pregnant. Some of our clients conceived even though we retrieved only 2-3 eggs. For conception to occur, the quality of eggs is what matters most and not the number. Read on to know ways to improve the quality of eggs and boost your fertility.
10 Ways to Improve Egg Quality
Dehydro-epiandrosterone or DHEA is a male hormone that is mild and well-tolerated known to provide remarkable results for women with diminished ovarian reserve.
When the ovaries have very low levels of androgens, it may result in poor quality eggs and reduced ovarian reserve. Several trials have proven that DHEA supplementation can turn around this condition.
After consultation with your doctor, the supplements are taken as an oral dosage of 75 mg-100 mg. You are required to take this dosage for at least two months before ovum pick-up is performed, and you will start observing the actual effect in 4-5 months.
Even though it rarely occurs, the androgynous nature of DHEA can cause some side effects. Some women may experience abnormal growth of facial hair, hair loss, acne, etc. However, these effects usually reverse as your hormones go back to normal levels. DHEA is a prescription-only medication in Australia.
CoQ10 Supplements for better Egg Quality
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) provides nutrients for the mitochondria and acts as an energy reserve for human cells. It is an antioxidant that aids in improving the quality of eggs. The number of healthy CoQ10 and mitochondria decline as you age. To boost the energy levels in your egg cells, you can take CoQ10 supplements.
A Chinese study involving 161 women found that participants who took CoQ10 supplements had a high number of quality eggs retrieved, better rates of fertilization, and better embryo quality which means they had high chances of having a successful pregnancy.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps free radicals reduce the rate of oxidative stress on your egg cells. The result is healthier eggs and better embryos.
L-arginine provides a suitable egg production and fertilization environment by improving blood supply to the ovaries and uterus.
Myo-inositol to increase Egg Quality
PCOS often causes fertility problems, and it occurs due to the release of eggs that have not matured and cannot be appropriately fertilized. Inositol supplements are best combined with Folic Acid to improve your ovarian function by reducing triglyceride levels in the blood, improving your PCOS.
Your PCOS symptoms will keep getting better as your insulin function improves, and it may also assist in promoting ovulation.
This study found that inositol administration combined with folic acid-induced ovulation in 62% of anovulatory women when taken every day for three months.
British researchers have conducted studies and found that the quality of the female egg quality is affected by consuming too many refined carbohydrates, which break down fast and cause a sudden increase in blood sugar.
So it’s best to avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, sugar-rich foods, pasta, and bread.
Experts recommend that you take a balanced diet that comprises at least 35% protein, less than 40% carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits, berries, and leafy greens that provide antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Avoid smoking, caffeine, alcohol
Nicotine is toxic to the cells in your body, including egg cells. Also, excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine can cause harm to your pregnancy.
An improved flow of oxygen-rich blood to your ovaries can assist in improving the quality of your eggs. Drinking more water and exercising is the best way to achieve that.
Obesity can increase oxidative stress to your cells, compromising the mitochondria function. To increase your chances of conceiving successfully, you need to have a normal body mass index (BMI).
Stress does not cause infertility directly, but it can negatively affect the quality of your eggs because they will function less than they usually would. Prolonged stress also leads to the production of hormones like prolactin and cortisol that may hinder normal ovulation.
Acupuncture and Yoga
Acupuncture and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, help your body eliminate toxins, and improve blood flow to your ovaries. Over time all these factors may help to enhance the quality of egg and ovarian function.
How to improve egg quality after 40
When women reach 40-41 years old, they usually have poor quality eggs due to premature luteinizing of follicles. For this reason, most are generally referred for donor eggs directly. For women over 40, the biological process goes faster inside the follicles, which means the eggs mature much sooner.
According to the standard protocol, the eggs are used way past their ideal time, contributing to poor quality.
Dr. Norbert Gleicher says that it is possible to use the eggs at the optimal quality when they are extracted sooner in older women. This technique is known as Highly Individualized Egg Retrieval (HIER).
Early trials have proven that it’s possible to improve the success rate of IVF by extracting better quality eggs by preponing egg quality retrieval time in women with premature ovarian failure or poor ovarian reserve. However, more research should be done to establish these claims fully.
Meanwhile, you can embrace various antioxidants methods- Myo-inositol, healthy lifestyles, etc., to enhance your chances of conception and improve egg quality.
In the 40s, the odds of a woman getting pregnant get significantly reduced, and there is also an increased risk of experiencing a pregnancy loss if a pregnancy occurs. Egg quality is the primary contributing factor in increased pregnancy loss rates and reduced pregnancy. However, women in their 40s can use donor eggs of a younger female who is fertile to achieve successful pregnancies.