For many women, infertility isn't something they even think about ... until the day they want to get pregnant. And even then, it's still something that "the friend" struggles with - not something that will ever hit home. We go along merrily assuming that getting pregnant will be as easy as quitting the pill. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
The truth is one in every six couples in the world will experience some kind of fertility issue; that translates to approximately 15% of couples.
While being proactive and watching your diet, ousting the alcohol and steering clear of cigarettes all increase the chances of conception; there may be a silent stalker in the wings that we don't think about;egg health.
Egg health is defined as "the condition of eggs produced in the ovary".
Many now realize that this condition plays a huge role in a woman's ability to conceive. In 2002 the National Institutes of Health introduced the Female Health and Egg Quality Initiative.
This initiative addressed a growing concern that fertility problems may be linked to poor egg quality - eggs that lack the mitochondria required for it to become an embryo.
In some cases, doctors are unable to diagnosis what causes poor egg health.
In fact, leading researchers wonder if there's something in our lifestyle or environment that may be reducing fertility.
Some experts have begun making observations linking infertility and poor egg quality with the increases in chronic diseases like asthma, heart attacks, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
What's your egg IQ?
By educating yourself on ovary and egg health and learning about the quality and quantity of your own eggs, you can help yourself better understand the challenges you're up against.
So let's start with a review of eggs in general.
Did you know that while women are born with 1 million oocytes, only about 500 turn into full-fledged eggs over their lifetime? By the time women reach their early 50s, the remaining oocytes have almost completely degraded.
A women's egg is about the size of a grain of sand and can actually be seen with the naked eye. That's 16 times bigger than a sperm!
New studies now show that eggs are picky - not passive!
The egg appears to give preference to sperm with intact DNA, producing a compound that softens the outer layer of the egg to allow specific sperm to enter.
These studies also suggest that the egg may even actively bind sperm to its surface, thereby not giving the sperm any choice in the matter, trapping the sperm it has chosen!
Multiple ovulation (the release of two or more mature eggs during a cycle) occurs in up to 10% of all cycles, which means that the average woman releases two (or more) eggs at least once a year!Those are some fun basics to jump start your egg IQ, but it's important to realize there are choices you can make that may greatly influence the quality of the eggs your body is producing.
As you can see from above - your eggs are chosen 150 days out and told to begin the maturation process.
They actually take 90 days to renew themselves, as the cycle of an egg in preparation for ovulation is 90 days!
Egg quality is something you want to spend your whole life supporting - but starting now is better than never starting at all.
Next we'll discuss some strategy suggestions to help!
Easy ways to boost egg health.
Minimize your exposure to environmental toxins.
Studies have shown that exposure to toxic chemicals can noticeably affect adult fertility.
And you can find poisonous chemicals throughout our environment, including our food supply, air and water. Occasional exposure is not too concerning - but accumulation over a long period is.
So where do you start? Eliminate substances such as parabens (in cosmetics), phthalates (in pliable plastics), Bisphenol A (in plastics), PCBs and PBDEs (in coolants, flame retardants).
All of these toxins mimic the reproductive hormones of the body and are also linked to both infertility and cancer.
Check out your personal care products on the Skin Deep Database here!
Avoid trans fats.
Did you know that consuming trans fats hidden in foods can increase your risk of infertility by as much as 70%!? WOW!
Harvard University School of Public Health actually advises women wanting to get pregnant to avoid all trans fats.
Trans fats are mostly listed as 'hydrogenated fat' or 'hardened vegetable fat' or simply 'vegetable fat' on the label.
Opt for healthy fats, such as avocados, coconut oils and nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts.
Minimize animal derived estrogens.
It's rather alarming to realize that dairy products account for an average of 60-70% of estrogens consumed.
Some of the hormones that have been found in cow's milk specifically include prolactin, somatostatin, melatonin, oxytocin, growth hormone, lutenizing releasing hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, estrogens, progesterone, insulin, and corticosteroids. (The list goes on and on!)
It's a sure bet that an excess consumption of all these hormones can disrupt your own hormonal balance - and did you also know that drinking cow's milk has been linked to certain cases of male infertility?
I know you are addicted to cheese (our cheese consumed has tripled over the last 30 years) but I suggest removing dairy for at least 30-60 days to determine if you are sensitive.
Switch to the fertility diet. Take the free 3-day fertility diet challenge here!
Avoid the two most common allergens.
If you are already going to minimize dairy (the #1 most common food allergen) - you might as well look at the second most wide spread food intolerance as well - gluten.
Studies have found that women with food intolerances were more likely to miscarry due to an overactive immune system, because your body is more likely to attack its own cells.
From an immunological point of view an embryo and sperm cell are foreign bodies and ripe for an attack from an overactive immune system.
We can run a food senstivity test for you to check if you are dairy and gluten intolerant, or simply cut these foods out during preconception and pregnancy.)
Ensure you are taking your vitamins too!
Ensuring your body has all the proper nutrients to support egg health and the uterine lining.
A professional grade prenatal vitamin with folate, CoQ10 Ubiquinol (helps to improve egg quality and fertilization rates).
Ask to join the Fab Fertile Support Group for your free Fertility Supplement Guide (includes all professional grade supplements recommendations).
Next we'll delve into some alternative treatments that can give your egg quality an extra boost!
During this waiting period you should work on positively adjusting your surroundings and making healthy decisions about what goes in your body to give your eggs the nutritional boost they need.
Part of the changes you incorporate could also include utilizing some healthy alternative practices as well.
In Chinese medicine, your egg supply would be compared to the concept of prenatal "jing essence". Along with Qi - the life force, and Shen - the spirit, Jing - the essence, is considered one of the "three treasures" in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese will tell you "Jing Essence is precious stuff!
You've got just enough to last your life. Keep it carefully!
You inherit your jing from your parents' genetics.
The strength of your jing is also influenced by the state of the uterine environment from which you hatched. (As will your little one's be.)
You can see that the 90 days of growth are crucial each cycle - and how important it is to treat your eggs like the precious material they are long before they make it to ovulation.
The days during which your primary and secondary follicles develop depend less on hormones as they do on how well you take care of your jing. If you're draining your jing essence more rapidly then was intended, your egg supply takes a hit.
The genetic material can break down before the egg even had a chance.
So what else can I do to support my egg health?
I would like to suggest meditation, acupressure, fertility yoga and fertility massage!
I think you will find it's not easy though and will take some practice! It's hard to shut off our minds - to essentially go to sleep while staying awake - but it is believed that this allows the body to maximum it's energy and focus healing where it is needed.
In partnership, when acupressure is done properly, it also helps to balance and support your organ systems. This is done by massaging specific points on your body.
Depending on the points chosen, some will direct blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, while others will support digestion so nutrients can be absorbed, while others balance hormones which help reduce stress.
And when you use these points together in the right combination, they stimulate an even stronger energetic surge that will help restore egg quality and support your reproductive organs.
By performing acupressure & meditation routinely in addition to adjusting the components discussed in above you can create new healthier patterns in your body that keep building on each other to preserve jing, balance hormones and support your eggs during their journey!
And what a wonderful journey it will be!
Sarah Clark empowers couples to discover how lifestyle and diet can dramatically impact their chances of conceiving. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both her kids with donor eggs. Not until years later did she discover that the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. Join the Free Fab Fertile Support Group on Facebook for mini-challenges, motivation and inspiration!
- http://www.chem-tox.com/infertility/ ·
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4524299/ ·