8 Natural Tips to Improve Egg Quality if You’re TTC
Thinking about trying to conceive (TTC)? Good egg quality sets the foundation for a healthy pregnancy!
Women often ask about at-home remedies for improving egg quality and increasing their chances of conceiving. You have probably heard of all kinds of ways to improve quality, from vitamin supplements to herbal medicine.
But is it even possible to improve egg quality? And if so, which methods are the most effective?
Let’s look at each more closely.
Can you improve egg quality?
If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to improve egg quality, the answer is a resounding yes. While you cannot increase the number of eggs you have, you can increase the number of high-quality eggs you have.
However, not all factors related to egg quality are changeable — we haven’t found a way to reverse aging yet — but you can control certain lifestyle factors that affect your egg quality. By doing so, you ensure your body has enough healthy eggs that are capable of being fertilized by sperm.
What factors affect egg quality?
As a woman, you are born with all the eggs you will ever have. As you age, you continue to lose eggs until eventually reaching menopause.
The more eggs you lose, the greater the number of remaining eggs that are considered low in quality. Once an egg becomes low in quality, or genetically abnormal, there is no way to reverse the damage.
Egg quality is affected by a number of factors, including:
- Age. DNA damage is inevitable in older eggs. As a woman ages, a greater percentage of her eggs become genetically abnormal.
- Nutrition. Both over-nutrition (i.e. being overweight or obese) and under-nutrition (i.e. vitamin deficiencies and/or being underweight) can negatively impact egg quality.
- Drug use. How much alcohol you drink and whether or not you use illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs strongly affects the quality of your eggs. Caffeine, which is technically a drug, may also play a role in egg quality.
- Environmental exposures. Certain chemicals found in the modern world can negatively impact egg quality. For example, a type of plastic known as BPA can worsen outcomes from in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Psychological stress. We already know that psychological stress can severely impact your fertility. One reason why is that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol reduce estradiol production, leading to the deterioration of a woman’s eggs.
How to Improve Egg Quality
While you can’t reverse genetic damage to your eggs once it has already happened, you can prevent it by following these tips for a healthier lifestyle.
1. Get your hormones in balance.
Many women have imbalanced hormone levels, caused by environmental factors, stress, lifestyle, and poor diet. Hormones regulate our cycle. They control our period, ovulation, egg implantation, embryo development, and many other things — including egg quality. In particular, too little estradiol (a form of estrogen) may decrease egg quality. Learn how Mira helps you track fertility hormones at home, conveniently and accurately.
2. Reduce stress.
If you have been TTC for a while, you must have heard the advice of “just relax” many times. Stress doesn’t cause infertility, but it may decrease egg quality. Excess cortisol, or stress hormone, reduces levels of egg-protecting estradiol in the body. Sometimes, the idea of reducing stress itself can be stressful. Finding what works for you is the most important thing. Try meditation or low-impact exercises, such as yoga or walking. Think about what makes you feel good and build those activities into your schedule to create your own routine.
3. Eat well.
Consider switching to a healthier diet to improve your overall health and egg quality. Avoid foods like trans fats (found in fried foods) and reduce your consumption of animal protein, both of which research shows may negatively impact fertility. To improve egg quality, try incorporating more vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. High levels of these nutrients can be found in foods like eggs (specifically the yolk) and fatty fish.
Low-impact exercise helps fertility by improving blood flow to the ovaries. This increased blood flow ensures the ovaries get enough oxygen, which is important for maintaining healthy eggs. Yoga, in particular, is relaxing and may relieve stress in addition to improving blood flow. Poses such as child’s pose, lotus pose, and seated forward fold are thought to especially increase blood flow to the reproductive organs.
5. Manage BMI.
Your body mass index (BMI) plays an important role in your reproductive health. In particular, obesity can reduce egg quality and fertility. One reason why is that adipose tissue, a.k.a. fat, produces estrogen. This excess estrogen can negatively impact egg quality and overall fertility. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered healthy and good for pregnancy. If you are over- or underweight, doctors recommend getting to a healthy BMI before TTC for the healthiest pregnancy possible.
6. Take supplements.
Some supplements have been clinically proven to improve egg quality. If you are concerned about your fertility health, try taking Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) or Myo-inositol. CoQ10 has been shown to improve egg quality and prevent premature ovarian failure, while inositol improves reproductive outcomes — especially in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
7. Reduce toxins like alcohol and cigarettes.
Drugs like alcohol and nicotine negatively impact egg quality. Research shows that smoking is especially harmful to egg quality, and some studies show that drinking even small amounts of alcohol can decrease female fertility. The link between caffeine and fertility is uncertain, but amounts under 200 mg of caffeine per day (the equivalent of two cups of coffee) appear to be safe.
You should also take care to avoid environmental toxins whenever possible. For example, you can reduce your exposure to BPA by choosing a glass water bottle and reusable steel straw over plastic.
8. Sleep more.
Sleep affects so many areas of our health, not least of all our fertility. Follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, plays a key role in protecting egg quality and studies show that women who sleep for at least seven to nine hours each night have 20% higher FSH levels than women who sleep for six hours or less. You should especially take care to reduce your exposure to blue light from electronics prior to sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin production, which regulates both your sleep cycle and egg quality.
When To Get Help
If you have tried natural remedies for fertility and nothing seems to work, it may be time to talk to your doctor. In general, women who are under age 35 and have been TTC for at least a year, or women who are over age 35 and have been TTC for at least six months, should see a fertility specialist to discuss their reproductive health. However, you may want to see a doctor sooner if you are older or have a reproductive health condition affecting fertility, such as PCOS or endometriosis.