Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Can you impact egg quality or not?
If you ask a fertility doctor, they will probably say no
If you ask a Naturopath, a Dietitian or a Chinese Medicine Dr, they will probably say yes..
and weirdly - they're probably both right...
Why? well, because there are lots of factors involved when we talk about egg quality.
I like to explain it as Egg QUALITY vs Egg HEALTH.
Egg QUALITY - when I talk about it, refers to the chromosomal status (or the DNA) of the egg.
The chromosomes in eggs are the bits that hold the code for whether your child will have your eyes, or your partners eyes. Whether they will be tall like your Dad or dark haired like his Mum.
This part of egg quality is determined before you were even born, and was likely influenced by what your Mum was doing when she was pregnant with you.
There is some indication that the DNA can be affected by the 'practice' division that the egg does in the 'recruitment' phase of development in the 3 months before ovulation... but basically, the chromosomal status of your egg refers to whether the egg has the right number of chromosomes and whether they are all arranged properly.
The chromosomes are housed inside the nucleus of the egg and they code for all the stuff we inherit from our biological parents - eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, height etc. etc. etc. This is the bit we can’t change.
As we get older, our egg stores obviously decrease (we lose on average up to 100 each cycle, even though we only ovulate one per month), and the percentage of normal eggs decreases too. So there are fewer eggs, and of the ones that are left; less of them are ‘normal’.
So this is what Drs are talking about when they say that we can't impact egg quality. If your eggs have 'dodgy' chromosomes... there is sadly nothing you can do about it....
But during the three months before ovulation - the maturing eggs have a little 'practice' at replicating and dividing the genetic material in the nucleus. There are some schools of thought that talk about genetic problems in eggs arising in that 'practice' division that your eggs do as they are maturing and preparing for ovulation.
If things go wrong in this division, then the chromosomes in the nucleus of the egg that eventually meets the sperm can end up wrong... not because that's how they were made before you were born, but because something went wrong with this division - one bit went one way when it should have gone the other way!
and what controls this division?? we're not totally sure....
Can we impact this? maybe.... it's certainly worth a try!! especially when we look at the aspects of egg quality that we CAN impact - Mitochondrial health!
When I talk about Egg HEALTH, I’m referring to the the aspects of an egg’s potential that we CAN impact - through diet and lifestyle choices. There is quite a lot of genetic material (not DNA, but similar) that is held OUTSIDE the nucleus.
In particular, there are small structures called Mitochondria. These are the power packs for the eggs - like a battery pack, that give it the energy to do all the things it needs to do in the first few days of development. The mitochondria provide all the energy for a cell (all cells have them) and as we age, not only do our cells have fewer of them, they get less efficient at producing the energy needed. Again, this is where those Drs saying we cant impact egg quality are correct - we can't ADD new Mitochondria....
But there are ways we can support mitochondrial health (and that means cell health too). We can help the mitochondria that are till there to work as efficiently as possible by eating the right foods, increasing our intake of certain antioxidants and limiting our consumption and exposure to toxic substances - like alcohol and tobacco, vapes, synthetic fragrances, plastics and other chemicals that interrupt how our hormones work.
So what do we do? Well, we PREPARE for conception! We work on the bits that we KNOW make a difference to mitochondrial health, and we suspect MIGHT make a difference to how the chromosomes behave in that 'practice' division..
We give ourselves the BEST possible chance of conception
How do you do that?
you could start with the eBook Preparing for Conception
or you could join the TLF VIPs
Or you could sign up for some 1:1 Professional Independent Expert Fertility Support