Many women are having difficulties in getting pregnant and others suffered multiple miscarriages. One of the primary causes of these problems is the possibility of having low-quality egg cells. To have successful fertilization, it is very crucial for both egg cells and sperm to be in optimal condition.
However, what is the importance of egg quality infertility? What are the methods used to measure the egg cell quality? Also, how can women improve their egg cell quality? Let’s find out the answers to these questions when you read this article right now!
The Importance of Egg Quality in Fertility
Aside from knowing the egg count, women also need to consider their egg quality in their fertility. The decline in the fertility level as we age is almost entirely a result of the decline in egg quantity and quality. But what does egg quality mean? It refers to the ability of an egg to become a viable pregnancy after fertilization.
Most people believe that the main challenge in having a successful conception or pregnancy is getting a fertilized egg. However, studies have shown that even the most fertilized eggs actually never turn into a successful pregnancy as they are unable to progress to the five-day embryo stage or they are lost already since the early stage.
This means the egg quality has an integral role in how long it takes for a woman to become pregnant, whether in a natural way or through the IVF process. Rebecca Fett wrote in her book It Starts with the Egg that the secret lies in the egg’s DNA because having the correct number of copies of each chromosome is very crucial in an embryo’s ability to develop into a pregnancy.
If a woman has a poor quality egg or chromosomally abnormal egg, there is a lower possibility that her egg will continue to develop as it may lead to unsuccessful pregnancy or early miscarriage. So, poor egg quality is significantly more common in women who have had a hard time getting pregnant.
Below are some outcomes of the clinical studies and reports of the effects of poor egg quality in women who want to conceive:
- The proportion of abnormal embryos in women with a history of repeated implantation failures in IVF cycles can be up to 70%.
- In one study in Japan, 41% of miscarriages were found to be caused by a chromosomal abnormality in the fetus, while all the other known causes of miscarriage together accounted for less than 30% of pregnancy losses.
- Several research studies have found that more than half of all first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities.
Women in their late 30s and over 40 are the ones having more than half of their eggs have poor quality or chromosomally abnormal as the rate of abnormalities in women over 40 is as high as 70-80%. However, egg quality has an impact on all age groups, and chromosomal issues in younger women are much more prevalent than you might assume.
For example, if you are under 35 and you don’t have any fertility problems, there will still be many ovulation cycles in which you have little capability to conceive. If the egg that you ovulate in a certain month is chromosomally abnormal and unable to support a pregnancy, you’ll probably not be able to conceive until the next cycle in which you ovulate a good egg.
Methods Used to Measure Egg Quality
In order to maintain healthy fertility and have a successful pregnancy, a woman’s egg needs to be high quality because it has the best chance of developing into an embryo, implanting in the uterus, and then resulting in a successful pregnancy. A normal egg should have 23 chromosomes. So, how can we measure a woman’s egg quality? Below are some well-known methods used to measure egg quality:
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Test – Taking a blood sample on the 3rd day of the menstrual cycle to analyze the hormone FSH, is crucial to follicle development as it signals the ovaries that it is time to make an egg each month. The lower the quality of eggs, the more resistant they are to FSH as it takes more and more FSH to keep the cycle progressing. The higher the FSH value, the lower the quality of eggs.
- Estradiol (E2) Test – E2 levels increase when an ovarian follicle becomes stimulated and is increasing in size. The E2 level should be under 50 pg/ml. If it is higher than 50 pg/ml early in the cycle, this means the ovaries are responding early and the egg quality is potentially decreasing.
- Transvaginal Ultrasound – It assesses resting/antral follicle count (AFC). It takes place between the 3rd day to the 12th day of the menstrual period and is performed by counting the total amount of follicles between 4 and 9 millimeters in both ovaries. A smaller amount of follicles means a woman may have issues with her egg quality and quantity.
Ways to Improve Egg Quality
Research studies suggest that one way external factors can influence egg quality is by boosting or compromising the egg’s ability to generate energy at critical times, the energy that provides the fuel for adequate chromosome processing. Here are some helpful ways to guide you in improving your egg quality:
- Try to incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle.
- Add fruits and vegetables like berries, having a minimum of 7 servings a day.
- Eat whole-grain foods. Swap white rice for brown rice and white bread for whole-wheat bread.
- Eat nuts and seeds like walnuts, cashews, almonds, chia seeds, and pistachios.
- Add olive oil to your daily food.
- Eat fish a minimum of two times a week like salmon, mackerel, trout, and herring.
- Reduce red meat intake and replace them with beans, poultry, or fish.
- Acupuncture – It reduces stress and anxiety associated with infertility, normalizes hormone production and endocrine systems, improves blood flow to the reproductive organs, regulates the menstrual cycle, etc. Studies found that acupuncture can help to increase the high-quality egg rate and high-quality embryo rates for women suffering from infertility and energetic kidney deficiency, responsible for irregular or absent menstrual periods.
- Regular exercise – Try walking, dancing, bicycling, pilates, and swimming or muscle strength, better flexibility, and balance. It increases a woman’s fertility and significantly affects the endocrine system which controls the hormones and elevates blood flow to specific body organs. Plus, it relieves the body from stress and anxiety.
- Take folic acid and omega-3 supplements – Many research studies revealed that the quality of eggs is better among women with higher levels of omega 3s and collagen. Omega-3 supplements delay ovarian aging and improve egg quality at advanced maternal age. While folic acid promotes egg health and prevents ovulatory infertility.
Today, we learned that egg quality has a fundamental role in how long it takes for a woman to become pregnant. A woman’s egg should have healthy DNA because having the correct number of copies of each chromosome is very important in an embryo’s ability to develop into a pregnancy. The common methods used in measuring the egg quality are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test, estradiol (E2) test, and transvaginal ultrasound test.
To improve your egg quality, incorporate the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle, try acupuncture, exercise regularly, and take folic acid and omega-3 supplements. We recommend that you try our BELTA Folic Acid and Sakura Omega-3 Dietary Supplement!