Fertility is something many women take for granted. We don’t even think about it until we decide to settle down and start a family.
If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, you may be searching for ways to improve your fertility. There are many ways – both natural and conventional – to improve your sexual reproductive health so that you can make your dreams of having a family come true.
Table of Contents
- Why Egg Health is Important
- Understanding the Fertility Cycle
- How to Increase Egg Health
- Assessing the Quality of Your Eggs
A happy, healthy pregnancy starts at the source: your eggs. Quality eggs produce healthy babies.
Your ovaries are designed to allow a single egg to grow, mature and release each cycle. The egg that’s released is the one chance for pregnancy in that month’s menstrual cycle.
The egg released during ovulation may be normal or abnormal, depending on the health of the egg. If the egg is normal, you’ll have a healthy pregnancy.
Abnormal eggs, on the other hand, typically don’t fertilize or won’t implant in the uterus. If they do implant, there’s a high chance of a miscarriage or of the baby having other issues, like Down Syndrome.
Egg health is directly related to the health of your pregnancy and your baby.
Age and the Health of Your Eggs
Lifestyle choices and your personal health can have a direct effect on the health of your eggs. But there’s also the age factor.
As you age, the DNA inside of your eggs starts to degrade.
Your eggs have been with you since before you were born. Over the years, they’ve been exposed to a myriad of things, including fevers, stress, toxins, infections, free radical damage, and more.
Once the DNA in a cell becomes damaged, it cannot be healed. The chances of eggs being abnormal grow exponentially as you age. A woman in her 20s will have mostly normal eggs. A woman in her 40s will have mostly abnormal eggs.
Even for older women, it is possible to improve egg health and increase the likelihood of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
It takes approximately 90 days for an egg to prepare for ovulation. During this time, there is a window of opportunity where external factors can influence the health of the egg. That window of opportunity is between 90 and 20 days before ovulation.
There are many factors that influence the health of your eggs, including:
· Blood flow
· Hormonal balance
· Proper oxygenation
How to Increase Egg Health
Want to know how to increase fertility? It all starts with egg health.
If your trying to conceive (TTC) and aren’t having any luck, your eggs may not be healthy enough to support a healthy pregnancy. Improving the quality of your eggs will not only help improve your chances of getting pregnant, but also reduce the chances of there being any complications with your baby.
It’s possible to improve your egg quality in a single fertility cycle – 90 days.
One of the best ways to improve the quality of your eggs is to focus on your lifestyle. Remember – it takes 90 days for an egg to grow and mature. That gives you three months to make changes to your lifestyle and see improved fertility.
One thing to note here: There is no scientific evidence that anything can improve egg quality in females. But there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that lifestyle choices and diet can affect egg health, and you can absolutely take steps to maintain the health of the eggs you have.
Here are some lifestyle changes you can make today to improve the health of your eggs.
Smoking greatly reduces your chances of getting pregnant. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), smoking causes up to 13% of female infertility cases.
If you’re a smoker, quitting will greatly improve your chances of getting pregnant. It will also improve your health.
2. Eat Healthy and Exercise
Because your eggs develop before ovulation, it is affected by outside factors, like your diet and lifestyle choices. Keeping your body as healthy as possible can make a significant difference in the quality of your eggs.
To improve your diet:
· Eliminate processed foods
· Eat plenty of vegetables
· Make fresh fruits part of your daily meals
· Consume lean proteins, like chicken and lentils
· Eat healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado and fatty fish (e.g. salmon)
· Consume whole grains
· Cut back on sugar consumption
· Consume more dark leafy green vegetables
Be sure to exercise regularly. Experts recommend exercising at least three times per week.
Maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in improving your fertility. Being overweight or underweight can greatly reduce your chances of getting – and staying – pregnant.
Staying hydrated is key when you’re trying to get pregnant. Dehydration can lead to poor blood flow and other health issues.
Aim for at least eight, 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
4. Get a Fertility Massage
If you’re looking to improve blood flow to the reproductive system, you can book a fertility massage.
Massaging the uterus and ovaries will help push fresh, oxygenated blood to the area and remove stagnant, old blood.
It’s best to start performing these massages the day your period ends and to continue all month long. Aim for four massages a week.
Known as the silent killer, stress can make just about everything in your life more difficult – including getting pregnant.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, everyone tells you to relax and not to stress about it. That advice, of course, makes you even more stressed out, which makes it harder to get pregnant. The vicious cycle continues.
Some studies have found that stress can make it more difficult for women to get pregnant.
It’s impossible to avoid stress, but there are tools to help you better manage it, like:
· Moderate exercise
· Tai chi
· Reading a book
· Massage therapy
The goal is to do something that you enjoy and take your mind off of whatever it is that’s stressing you out. If life in general is the problem, meditation and exercise are usually the best outlets for stress.
6. Try Supplements
Certain supplements and herbs can also help improve your fertility. One of the most popular is Maca, which was used by the people of Peru and the Andes to maintain virility and fertility.
Known as a superfood, Maca root is an adaptogen. That means it helps the body naturally adapt to stressors, which helps keep your hormone levels in balance.
Hormonal balance is key to having a healthy, successful pregnancy. If your hormones are out of whack:
· Take steps to cleanse your body of excess hormones
· Reduce your exposure to xenohormones
· De-stress (see above)
· Eat right
Notice a pattern here? Eating right, exercising and avoiding stress are the best ways to keep your reproductive health in check.
There is no formal test to gauge the health of your eggs, but there are ways to determine whether your eggs are viable. These tests include:
Day 3 FSH
A basic test to determine a woman’s fertility. With this test, blood is drawn on the third day of your menstrual cycle to measure the level of follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, and estradiol.
FSH controls your ovaries’ production of eggs. If levels are high, this may indicate that the egg is of poor quality.
Estradiol is the primary female sex hormone and a type of estrogen. When levels of estradiol are high, this is also an indication of poor egg quality or quantity. It may also indicate that estradiol is suppressing FSH production.
Low levels of FSH and estradiol may indicate hypopituitarism or polycystic ovary syndrome.
A transvaginal ultrasound allows you to see the number of resting follicles in your ovaries. Resting follicles are the number of potential eggs that can mature and be released. The larger the number of follicles, the greater the chances that your egg reserve is normal. A smaller number means that you may have issues with egg quality and quantity.
AMH is a type of hormone that is produced by the dormant follicles in the ovaries. Higher levels of AMH mean that you have a larger ovarian reserve, or pool of eggs. This test is yet another way to gauge the size of your egg reserve, which is an indicator of egg quality.
AMH levels can be tested at any time, as they do not fluctuate with your menstrual cycle.