In the fertility space “egg quality” is often discussed at length…so what does egg quality MEAN & why does it matter?
Firstly, when a woman is born, she already has all of the eggs (oocytes) she’ll ever have in her ovaries (approx 400,000). These lay dormant from birth until puberty, at which point they become exposed to FSH & LH with the beginning of our ovulatory cycle as young women.
FSH & LH play pivotal roles in the eggs journey from a primordial follicle to becoming a dominant follicle. Interestingly, a number of follicles take this journey each cycle (each month) from immature follicles, where they grow & develop with the help of our hormones, until eventually ONE will reach maturity & become the dominant follicle that is released at ovulation. This process begins about 100 days before ovulation, which is why 3 months of pre-conception care is critical for egg quality.
So what happens to those other follicles?
The female body, being the efficient powerhouse that it is- the follicles go through a process called Atresia or apoptosis (a cell death) – and go back into the egg pool! 99% of ovarian follicles degenerate before ovulation. During an IVF ‘stim’ cycle these are the eggs they are targeting!
So, what can impact the quality of your eggs?
Essentially, anything that the egg is exposed to over those 100 days will influence its overall quality & blueprint. Specific things you want to observe are:
1. Age. In Chinese medicine we say fertility peaks at 28 and declines at 35, this is backed up by Western Medicine showing that our fertility declines from age 35.
2. Environmental exposure to toxins, pollution, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors
3. Stress;(HPA axis) another reason to get out of fight or flight & into rest & digest
4. Genetic risk facts like chromosomal abnormalities
5. Nutritional status; celiac, malabsorption, obesity, low BMI
What can you do to improve the quality of your eggs?
Supplements can’t outweigh a poor diet but the truth is due to the sourcing & quality of food even when we are eating healthy, organic, whole foods we still need some supplementation. Some supplements we recommend in clinic are:
– Folate & B12 for DNA integrity
– Fish oil for fetal development, inflammation, circulation & egg quality
– CoQ10 for mitochondrial support
– Vitamin D (especially if you live in Melbourne!) AMH expression, egg quality and insulin resistance.
– Vitamin E: Mixed tocopherols: Egg Quality, endometrial lining
– N-Acetyl Cysteine: egg quality, ovulation, gluathione
– Bone Broth for egg quality
Just like TCM, your supplement game is individualised for you, so working with a health practitioner is essential. We work with many women who have been diagnosed with a low AMH and over the age of 40.
Amanda is the founder of Angea and has over 12 years of experience working with women to support their health journey. In addition to being a registered doctor of Chinese medicine, Amanda is a yoga teacher and founder of Mindful Pregnancy Yoga Training. Amanda offers acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and womb healing treatments at Angea.