Many women are opting to put off motherhood to pursue careers and stability, which means more potential mothers are wondering how to improve their egg quality. Can it be done?
CBS News reports that the number of pregnancies in women over the age of forty has tripled in the last two decades. Women who are hoping to conceive often seek out ways to improve egg quality after 40.
Can You Improve the Quality of Your Eggs?
Unfortunately, there is no magic way to improve your egg quality but there are ways to keep your eggs healthier as you age. Many things have an effect on your egg quality and also your odds maintaining fertility.
Your Eggs Naturally Age
All women are born with a limited quantity of eggs. As the years advance, the egg supply dwindles. Even if a woman still has an adequate supply of eggs to conceive she is still faced with the fact that her egg reserves are aging.
Older eggs have greater chances of having chromosomal abnormalities than younger eggs. With each passing year after the age of 40 it becomes increasingly harder to conceive, miscarriages become more common, and the odds of birth defects rises.
Here are several things that have a direct bearing on your fertility after the age of 40:
- Hormonal balance
- Healthy fertility cycle
- Proper circulation
- Healthy eggs
Diagnosis of Poor Egg Quality and Quantity
When a woman hits forty and starts to try to conceive she may face difficulty so it is not uncommon to seek out the opinion of a fertility expert. The infertility is usually credited to Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), Advanced Maternal Age (AMA), Poor or Diminished Ovarian Reserve (POR, DOR), or Premature Ovarian Failure (POF).
All of the conditions have two key elements in common and that is poor egg quality and reduced egg quantity. An elevated FSH level and low AMH score mean that menopause is on the horizon.
Understanding the Importance of Egg Health
All of the cells in a woman’s body regenerate but egg cells. However, you can create an optimum environment within the ovaries for your eggs to flourish.
Here are several suggestions to help keep your eggs healthy.
- Stress: Stress is a killer and can affect all aspects of your body. Alleviating stress helps your entire body function better.
- Water: To increase your body’s circulation, especially to the ovaries, it is suggested that you consume at least eight glasses of water per day. Each glass should hold at least 8 ounces of water.
- Exercise: Exercise amps up circulation throughout the body.
- Nutrition: Eat healthy, nutrient-packed foods to balance your vitamin and mineral levels.
- Smoking: Avoid smoking.
- Alcohol: Limit alcohol consumption.
Foods to Boost Fertility
Many studies have shown that the foods you consume can boost fertility. Here are several foods that you should enjoy while trying to conceive:
- Maca Root: Maca root naturally balances a woman’s hormones.
- Royal Jelly: Royal jelly is a substance secreted by honeybees to be fed to larvae that will grow into queen bees. This helps ensure the queen’s fertility.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens contain nutrients and minerals that the body readily absorbs. They are also rich in antioxidants. Spinach, romaine, arugula, and broccoli contain folate and B vitamins. They are believed to assist with ovulation.
- Protein: Beans, nuts, and seeds are protein powerhouses.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain non-heme iron which has been shown to increase conception.
- Whole Wheat Bread: Whole wheat bread boasts complex carbs that control insulin levels. Increased insulin levels have been shown to cause infertility.
- Wild Salmon: Wild salmon is rich is in Omega 3s which work to regulate a woman’s hormones.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that decreases inflammation throughout the body and reduces insulin sensitivity.
Lifestyle Choices can Damage Eggs
Although there is no way to improve egg quality, you can avoid damaging your eggs further. Lifestyle choices do harm your existing eggs and make them less viable when you reach forty. Other factors can also contribute to the decline of your eggs as you age.
Here are several things that cause a decline in the health of your eggs:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Illegal drug use
- Ovarian cysts
- Immune disorders
- Early menopause
Egg Quality Declines Unless They are Frozen
Unfortunately, aging is a natural aspect of life and no one can stop the hands of time. With aging comes the reality that your eggs are also growing older and less viable. There is no way to improve the quality of your eggs after 40.
If you want to delay conception then you should consider possibly freezing your eggs to help keep them fresh for conceiving in later life.
What the Experts Say
“A healthy 40-year-old can have a much less risky pregnancy than a healthy 28-year-old,” states Dr. Rebecca Starck, chair of the department of regional obstetrics and gynecology at Cleveland Clinic. “That being said, many women in these advanced maternal age groups will do just great. While we do watch them more carefully, we don’t want people to fear that they absolutely can’t and shouldn’t get pregnant after age 35.”
“The reality is that many women in their forties won’t be able to conceive with their own eggs, especially after the age of 44,” says David Ryley, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Boston IVF fertility clinic and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. But if you’re set on carrying your own child, there’s another way to make it happen. The option of donor eggs is spectacular because it still affords a woman or couples the opportunity to have a biological child.”
“A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, and they age as she ages. This is different from men, who produce new sperm on a regular basis. By the time a woman reaches 40, as many as 60 percent of her eggs will contain an abnormal number of chromosomes. In other words, chromosomal abnormalities are more likely to develop in the eggs of older women,” according to Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D., a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
Sadly, a woman over the age of 40 is 50 percent more likely to suffer from a miscarriage according to Cosmo. This is largely due to the natural decline in her egg quality. A dramatic increase in chromosomal abnormalities is also a reality.
Freezing her eggs during youth for later use might be an option but, overall, some women will give birth to healthy babies even with advanced maternal age but others will not. Women with egg problems may want to seek out an egg donor as an option to conceive.