- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
How To Improve the Quality of Your Eggs
Why Do We Need to Improve Egg Quality?
A lot of women, when trying to conceive in later life, are looking for ways to improve the quality of their eggs. The reasons for this are mostly because we are told that, as we get older, our egg quality diminishes and hence the chances of getting pregnant become slimmer as we get older.
It is also the case that as you get older you are more likely to have a miscarriage if you do get pregnant and the reason for this can be to do with egg quality so it is therefore a good idea to do what we can to improve it.
Many doctors say that fertility in women starts to reduce at the age of 35 but don't forget it is still possible to get pregnant well into your forties, as well as the fact that there are many women who have become pregnant in mid to late forties whether that be naturally or through assisted conception (IVF etc).
So, there have been some studies done on some products that show they can improve the quality of eggs and increase the chances of pregnancy.
For other supplements the evidence is slightly more anecdotal as clinical studies have not been performed, but women are still recommended to try these supplements, often by people who have used these supplements themselves and believed that they have helped them.
What Supplements to Take
Before taking any supplements you should really talk to your doctor or OB about what you are taking - some supplements have side effects or are not suitable for everyone so do plenty of research before you start taking them.
There are supplements that are completely natural and should be safe to take but if you are on any other medications then they could possibly conflict with those.
You can choose to take maybe one or two of these supplements or you could throw everything at it and try them all at once!
Of course if you do have problems conceiving then there may be other issues and egg quality may not be one of them so you should get yourself checked out for any other problems.
Royal Jelly and Bee Pollen
This is a supplement that I had recommended to me from a number of sources. Some success stories have been seen from women who take royal jelly and bee pollen (this can also be taken with propolis) - it can be mixed in with honey so that it is easier to take as the bee pollen does not taste that good.
With the honey version you just need to take a teaspoon of it a day but it can be quite a strong taste, especially if you don't like honey! This supplement can be quite expensive however.
You can also buy it in a capsule formula and this is probably more widely available due to the ease of shipping.
It is advised that any supplement should be taken for around 3 months before seeing results and this one is no exception.
Experiments have taken place in Canada that show 'middle-aged' mice who are given doses of CoQ10 produce more eggs and of a better quality. This research is now expanding to women over 35 as it is believed that the enzyme could be the key for older women to be able to reproduce for longer and produce better quality eggs.
CoQ10 Research in Mice
In September 2011 an article was posted in the Vancouver Sun about research that had been carried out on mice with regard to taking CoQ10. To summarise:
Toronto fertility doctors say their experiments in mice show that co-enzyme Q10 makes older mice produce more and healthier eggs. The doctors are now preparing to test the supplement on women aged 35 and older undergoing fertility treatments.
However, for some reason that article (which was very interesting) has been pulled and I am trying to find out why.
This makes CoQ10 one of the most popular supplements for women who are trying to improve their egg quality and I have heard of it being recommended to friends by their fertility specialists.
This supplement is also not particularly cheap but could be the best one to choose if you only pick one. You do need to make sure that you pick a good quality CoQ10 supplement.
Melatonin is actually a supplement to aid sleep, but in a recent study it was found that IVF patients who took 3mg of melatonin before treatment had a much better success rate than those who did not. It is not recommended that melatonin is taken for more than 3 months and it should be stopped (like most supplements) if a pregnancy is achieved.
Melatonin is something that is normally taken as a sleep aid. However, this supplement is one that has some kind of science behind taking it for fertility.
A study was carried out on IVF patients who had previously had a failed IVF cycle that was due to poor egg quality. The study attempted to show that taking melatonin could increase the quality of the eggs and of the successful fertilisation rates. The study did indeed succeed in showing this and you can see more information on that in the Medical News Today article.
If you take 3mg of melatonin a night (which is the dose that it usually comes in) then this could indeed aid egg quality in particular for an IVF cycle.
The study was not focused on those who were trying to conceive naturally however, and it does not say how long the supplement was taken for during the trial. But as the IVF cycle usually lasts around 2 weeks before egg collection, it could be appropriate to take it in the first 2 weeks of your cycle.
Obviously melatonin also is a sleep supplement so expect to sleep better in those two weeks that you take it and it is probably not a good idea to take it in the long term.
The next supplement that could be worth taking to improve your egg quality is one called DHEA.
Its full name is Dehydroepiandrosterone and it is actually a steriod hormone that is found naturally in the body.
DHEA is available in tablet form in health food shops and widely online. Check out further details below.
DHEA - recommended by the Center for Human Reproduction
The Center for Human Reproduction recommends taking DHEA for 3 months for women who have a diminished ovarian reserve. This supplement has shown to improve egg quality and response to fertility treatment as well as a higher rate of spontaneous pregnancies.
Some doctors are pushing for an official study to show that DHEA can increase pregnancy rate, particularly in older women. One fertility specialist in Australia advises all of his patients over the age of 35 to take 75mg a day of DHEA and believes that they will conceive within 4 months (where there are no other known problems for conception).
- Genetic study shows DHEA improves embryo quality :: CHR
The Center for Human Reproduction has evidence that DHEA can improve pregnancy rates and also help women to get pregnant more quickly. DHEA helps reduce chromosomal abnormalities which are thought to be the cause of 85% of miscarriages.
Maca - Powder and Capsules
Maca is a natural product from the Andes in Peru, which has been used for centuries in both men and women. It is said to increase strength and stamina and also boost fertility in both men and women as well as being used for women who are experiencing the menopause.
Its unique ability is to balance out the required hormone levels to the correct amounts so that there is not an imbalance that may cause problems in a woman's cycle. Most of the evidence for using Maca as a supplement is anecdotal but this is one thing that I used myself.
Maca - Used for Centuries
Maca is available in powder or tablet format. It is a relatively cheap supplement that is supposed to help in overall health as well as for fertility.
Supplements For Improved Egg Quality
So if you have been trying to get pregnant for a while and it is not happening (and you have had yourself checked over for any other problems) and perhaps you are in the older age group - i.e. above 35 - then it may be worth thinking about trying to improve your egg quality.
To do this it might be worth trying one or more of these supplements to see if they have any effect. It is possible that some of these supplements will hopefully give you extra energy in any case so they are still worthwhile but it may well be that one or more of these supplements gives your body the extra boost that your eggs need to increase your chances of conceiving.
Don't forget also to check that your partner is doing the right thing to get the best possible sperm too and you may be on to a winner!