Have you been trying to have a baby with no success? Have you had all of the tests to check your hormones and general health and told you are just fine? Today we will share some common factors that affect your egg health for a women. We think it is fair to say these also affect sperm health for a man as well.
Women are born with all of their eggs, the number peaks at 18-22 weeks in utero before you are even born. This declines to around one – two million by birth. This continues to decline to around 250,000 eggs in both ovaries at the completion of puberty. You would think as previously thought, that egg health is determined before you are born. We now know that egg quality can be influenced in the 100 days before ovulation whilst they are maturing. This puts you in the drivers seat of finding out what factors influence your egg health and start making some changes for the next 100 days.
Preconception health care is recommended to commence 3-4 months before you are ready to start trying for a baby. This allows us plenty of time to have both partners in optimal health to improve your chances of successful conception and starting your family. Preconception care can be provided alongside IVF treatments or natural fertility.
Lets take a look at 3 factors that influence your egg (oocyte) health.
Age is the single biggest factor affecting a couples chance of conceiving. One of the most powerful influences relating to a woman’s fertility is her age. Female age has a physiological and genetic influence on conception relating to a reduced ovarian follicular pool, changes in ovulation. Statistics show a decline in a woman’s fertility from 35 years old and a steep drop after 41.
With increasing society and professional pressures on women, childbearing is increasingly postponed into our 30’s, resulting in the increasing need for fertility treatment. Currently, one in 25 children born in Australia as a result of IVF treatment and it is believed the figures reaches one in seven for women over 37 years of age.
It is well established that oocyte (egg) quality deteriorates with advanced reproductive age, in addiction to an increase in ovulatory disorder, a reduction in ovulatory frequency, an impaired luteal phase all leading to reduced conception rates.
Herbs that may help with anti-ageing and fertility health
- Astragalus – a tradition Chinese herb and Qi (energy) tonifying herb, found to possess anti-ageing activity, anti oxidant, anti inflammatory and mitochondrial support.
- Bacopa – reduces oxidative stress in the ageing brain, may help with FSH/LH release from the anterior pituitary (your brain).
- Reishi – Traditional Chinese tonic utilised to promote health and longevity.
- Shatavari – Strengthens female reproductive health in order to produce healthy oocytes, and increases vitality and fertility. Shatavari enhances folliculogenesis and ovulation, prepares the womb for conception and improve oocyte quality.
Stress & Lack of Sleep
Psychological stress has the potential to impact the biology of female reproduction by targeting at the level of ovary, follicle and oocyte. Negative life events can directly induce the release of cortisol (stress hormone) which inhibits oestradial biosynthesis from follicular cells leading to reduced quality and number of oocytes.
Psychological stress can also indirectly impact your fertility health by changing lifestyle behaviors, such as alcohol consumptoion, cigarette smoking, poor diet, etc. resulting in the increased oxidative stress on the body.
Sleep quality is essential for egg health. You need eight hours per night to allow for healing and repair and a healthy response to daily stress.
Herbs for Stress & Sleep Support
- Adaptogenic Herbs help to balance your circadian rhythm. Herbs such as ginseng, astragalus, bacopa, withania, rhodiola can be of assistance to support how your body responds to stress keeping you feeling balanced.
- Sleepy Herbs that may help include; chamomile, hops, passionflower, zizyphus and lavender.
Poor Nutrition & Diet
Your are what you eat! Food is your first medicine. Dietary modification (eg whole food or Mediterranean diet) is known to improve fertility outcomes, especially ovulation and conception. A wholefood diet is thought to promote optimal development and maturation of oocytes wheres a diet that is low in essential vitamins and minerals is associated with sub-fertility.
Nutrition to support Egg Health
- Coenzyme Q10 – enhances mitochondrial activity and health, delays age-mediated oocyte loss, anti-ageing.
- Glutathione – the bodies most potent antioxidant, mitochondrial and liver support.
- B vitamins – support optimal methylation processes. If you have a MTHFR gene issue, this can affect the way your body uses b vitamins, so these supplements need to be chosen carefully.
- Resveratrol – increases the follicle pool and embryo development, improves health of eggs, improves mitochondrial function and a great anti-oxidant.
Herbs to Enhance Nutritional Status for Digestion
Herbal medicine can play a significant role in support digestive process and enhancing absorption of nutrients.
- Digestive bitters – enhance upper digestive processes via stomach, liver and pancreas such as chamomile, dandelion, gentian, globe artichoke.
- Pungent herbs – combine well with bitters to enhance digestive stimulation such as cinnamon, fennel, ginger.
- Cholagogues & choleretics- enhance the production and release of bile such as barberry, bupleurum, dandelion, turmeric.
As you can see there are a number of great options to help improve your egg health. Your naturopath can guide you on the right combinations for you and importantly the right doses. We attend regular education updates to ensure we stay up to date on latest evidence for fertility.
When it comes to fertility and egg health, it is easy to forget about the importance of a holistic approach to your health.
Are you ready to dedicate the next 100 days to improve your egg health?
In our next blog we will look at some more factors that influence fertility health and what you can do about it.
Cindi Young is a leading Gold Coast Naturopath with over 20 years experience helping people live happier, healthier lives with a special interest in hormone, preconception health, fertility and weight loss programs.
Available by appointment at The Cycle of Life, Robina, Gold Coast, QLD and The Centre for Mind, Body, Wellness in Mullumbimby, NSW and telehealth appointments Australia wide.