In the past, a common belief was that age was the only factor which determined your ovarian and egg health. This is an ‘old-school’ belief system, though one that is still believed by some health practitioners today (unfortunately!).
There are two trains of thought about the number of eggs a woman has – some believe that you are born with a finite amount, while there is research to back the idea that women continue to produce eggs during their reproductive years(1). Regardless of what train of thought you believe, age still plays a major factor in your fertility health. As you, and your ovaries age, the ‘housing’ for your eggs becomes less than optimal. So, protecting the eggs you currently have, as well as encouraging ovarian health through diet, lifestyle modifications, supplements, and increased circulation to the reproductive system, is of the utmost importance.
Egg quality refers to how prepared your eggs are to develop into embryos once they are fertilized. In order to be healthy enough to develop, an eggs needs to have the proper chromosomes and the ability to combine those chromosomes with sperm. Not all eggs are created equally though! Some just don’t have the number of chromosomes necessary to sustain a successful pregnancy. Once fertilized, the egg needs to have enough energy – from mitochondria – to split. The mitochondria contained in your eggs produce less energy as you age, so even if an egg does become fertilized, it may run out of stream before it can divide, resulting in an unsuccessful pregnancy.
A whopping 95% of embryo health comes from the egg so, in theory, high quality eggs produce high quality embryos. Embryos must be strong enough to survive the early stages of development in order to have a successful, full-term pregnancy. Poor quality eggs can have a major impact on your fertility – they can make it harder to conceive, and poor quality eggs can mean the difference between carrying your baby to term, or losing it in the first few weeks if it doesn’t implant properly. This all sounds scary, and a little bit overwhelming, but I promise that through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and specific nutrient supplementation we can optimize your egg quality therefore improve your chances of getting pregnant, staying pregnant, and having a healthy pregnancy!
The cycle of an egg in preparation for ovulation is around 90-120 days. During this period, before an egg reaches full maturation, the eggs are changing and preparing for ovulation. During this time they are affected by both healthy or unhealthy influences. The changes you make today will have a huge impact on preparing your next cycle of eggs, and will help prepare them for fertilization!
There are many contributing factors that affect the health of your ovaries and eggs – environmental factors, hormones in your diet, stress, blood flow, etc. Additionally, having healthy fertility is based on things such as proper circulation, a healthy fertility cycle, balanced hormones, avoidance of environmental toxins, and healthy eggs, just to name a few. These are the factors that you’ll want to focus on with improving the health of your eggs. Let’s take a closer look at each factor, and see how you can make the changes necessary to improve your fertility health.
Oxygen rich blood flow to the ovaries is essential for good egg health. Blood flow can decrease from lack of exercise, dehydration, and thick blood. To increase blood flow to the ovaries, I suggest the following:
What you eat directly affects not only your well-being, but also your egg quality. To start with, restrict or completely eliminate the following from your diet to protect your egg health:
Instead, focus on eating real, whole, fresh food that you cook yourself. This will help protect and positively impact your egg health. Try to incorporate the following into your diet:
Get rid of all exposure to toxins in your environment: this includes toxic personal care products, cleaning products, yard fertilizers, etc. By making sure that you’re only using CLEAN products in your environment will reduce your exposure to numerous endocrine disrupting chemicals. Remember that everything you put on your body, you might as well have eaten. The body absorbs everything through your skin, as if you ate it. So check out your shampoo label and see if a third grader can pronounce those ingredients – if not, find a new one. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to find the cleanest cosmetics, sunscreens, personal care products, house cleaners, and everything else.
The present world is filled with stress, and unfortunately, that’s non-negotiable. But how you respond and react to stress is entirely in your control! Practice managing your daily stressors with ease. My favorite tools for this are: restorative yoga, long slow walks in nature, hot bath, a massage, whatever else brings your unique soul pleasure! This may be one of the most important things you can do to optimize your health.
Easier said than done: get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis! Consistent, adequate, and unmedicated sleep is critical in improving your egg health, and it’s something that I cannot stress enough. The hormone produced at night in response to complete darkness is melatonin. Melatonin actually PROTECTS egg quality so it’s important to optimize it’s production. In order to do this, get all the electronics out of the bedroom and get off all your devices at least two hours before bedtime. And make you’re sleeping in complete darkness, you shouldn’t be able to see your hand 4 inches from your face.
To ensure your body is capable of doing all of the above, we need to ensure that your body has optimized nutrient levels to promote pregnancy. There a TON of options when it comes to supplements, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top favs for you:
The Fertility Code is the best-kept secret of women who want to take the guesswork out of conceiving, and give themselves every possible chance of getting pregnant quickly and naturally.
Bringing together evidence-based information, science-backed protocols and nurturing practices, this course is your one-stop-shop for getting your body, mind and soul prepared for conception.
This essential fertility course is for anyone who is struggling to get pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant soon. The course covers allllll the fertility topics: egg quality, ovarian reserve, miscarriage, ovulation, cycle tracking, low progesterone, IVF, prepping for egg retrieval + embryo transfer, thyroid health, toxins, and much more. It covers EVERYTHING you need to know and you can move through the modules at your own pace.
The Fertility Code will give you the tools, protocols, tests, supplements, and more to optimize your fertility health, nourish your body, and give it what it needs to make a baby, and ensure a healthy full-term pregnancy. It has helped hundreds of women get pregnant, and stay pregnant, and it can help you too.
And if you want to get a baseline of your fertility health before getting started, take my quiz! After you complete it, you’ll receive a detailed report from me explaining your results.
If you want more personalized guidance and support, or want to have a more in-depth conversation about your specific concerns, feel free to schedule a 1:1 consultation. I offer 1:1 consultations through the convenience of video conferencing for women and couples with various fertility & hormonal health concerns.
Sarah Jane Sandy is a certified nutrition therapist, and a fertility and women’s health expert. She has helped hundreds of women increase their fertility naturally and go on to have healthy full-term pregnancies. Learn more about her own fertility journey here. To send Sarah a message, complete her Contact Form.