TTC? 7 Real Ways to Improve Your Egg Quality for Better Success
When you're trying to conceive, all you need is one good egg. Here's how to get it.
by Tina Donvito
If you've been trying to get pregnant for a while, you've probably heard other women talking about all kinds of ways to improve your egg quality—everything from vitamin supplements to herbal concoctions to ground-up placenta powder (yes, that's a thing. Don't ask how I know.) You might be concerned that your eggs are, well, not as robust as they used to be, especially if you're over 35. But of all the crazy quick-fixes you read on the internet, which ones actually work? Is it even possible to improve the quality of your eggs? We talked to a fertility specialist, a women's health expert and a Chinese medicine guru to get their take on what you can do.
1. Live a healthy lifestyle
You are born with all the eggs you have in your lifetime, but what we call "egg quality" is not actually a fixed thing—as the egg develops before ovulation, it's affected by outside factors, so you want to keep your body as pristine as possible. "Everything that you do affects your eggs, so the older you get the more environmental toxins they've been exposed to and the more likely they are to be abnormal," Alice Domar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF, tells Fit Pregnancy. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to keep your eggs healthy as you age. "It is always good to improve your overall health as a way to improve your fertility potential," Lora Shahine, M.D., an OBGYN and reproductive specialist at Pacific NW Fertility in Seattle, tells Fit Pregnancy. "I encourage patients to maintain a healthy weight because being underweight or overweight can decrease chances to conceive. Exercise, but not to a point of exhaustion—do yoga, Pilates, walking, light jogging or strength training instead of long-distance running or CrossFit."
2. Manage stress
Anyone trying to conceive for a while has heard the unwanted advice, "just relax." Although stress can't cause infertility, it may be another environmental factor that could cause your eggs not to perform at their optimum level. "There have been a couple of studies that found the more stressed the woman is the longer it takes to get pregnant," Domar says. Trying to reduce stress can be stressful in itself, so instead, figure out ways to handle it. "You cannot avoid stress, but build tools to manage it such as meditation or low impact exercise," Dr. Shahine says. The most important thing is to find whatever works for you. "Look at your lifestyle, and if you find that exercise reduces stress walk more, learn a relaxation technique, hang out with your friends—think about what feels good and reduces your stress level," Domar says.
3. Avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol
Unfortunately, you shouldn't use wine as a way to reduce stress, since alcohol has also been shown to lower pregnancy rates, Domar says. And it should go without saying that if you're a smoker, you should quit. "Nicotine is toxic to eggs, and there's data to show that women who smoke basically add 10 years to their reproductive age," Domar says. Studies on caffeine are less clear, but both Domar and Dr. Shahine say to cut back if you drink a lot of it. "When you're pregnant, it's recommend you limit caffeine, so anything you would do pregnant you would want to do when you're trying to get pregnant," Domar says.
I was absolutely amazed at the kindness and professionalism of everyone we worked with. Regardless of how things turn out for us, we feel we’ve been given the best chance of success. Special thanks to everyone for your extra time and attention. We really appreciate it.