Unless you’re in elementary school, turning 35 isn’t considered old. Until you’re talking fertility and you’re labeled a geriatric. Womp womp! It’s true, age does negatively affect egg health (boo!), but research is showing that we actually can impact our egg quality through a number of holistic approaches (yay!).
You may notice I mention to my prospective Preconception Health Coaching clients that they begin working with me ideally a minimum of 4-6 months before actively trying to conceive. This is because the health of our eggs is formed in the pre-ovulation phase, roughly 90 days before they are released. Think of it as you would exercise: the work in the gym you do today won’t change your physique tomorrow, but a couple months down the line.
5 ways to start improving the health of your eggs today for increased fertility!
Following a fertility diet is a must for higher quality eggs. If you haven’t yet, definitely read this post on the basics of a fertility diet, but here are some key takeaways:
- Avoid trans-fats and added sugars
- 2% calories from trans fats doubles risk of ovulatory dysfunction
- Eat a variety of healthy whole fats (not low-fat)
- A study found women having 2+ servings of low fat dairy a day were 85% more likely to have ovulatory dysfunction
- Women eating 1+ serving of whole fat dairy a day vs. 1+ serving a week had 25% reduced risk of fertility issues due to ovulatory disorders
- Opt for “slow carbs” over no carbs
- Carbohydrates low on the GI index are slower to digest and rich in fiber to help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, helping balance hormones
- Choose organic grass-fed, lean meat and poultry
- Animals raised in conventional facilities contain high levels of added hormones and antibiotics which contribute to hormone imbalance.
- Vegetable Protein
- Replace one serving of animal protein with vegetable protein a day
- Iron rich foods
- Research has shown that women taking an iron supplement were 40% more likely to be fertile than those who did not get adequate iron. Important to get from foods not just supplements.
Get my list of specific fertility friendly foods plus 5 deliciously easy recipes directly to your email here!
The effect of stress during pregnancy – on both mom and baby – is pretty well known, but new research is coming out that reveals the negative impact stress can also have on those trying to conceive. There seems to be a link between stress hormones, like cortisol and prolactin, and fertility issues due to ovulatory dysfunction.
Telling a woman who is trying to get pregnant to “not stress about it” is probably the most irritating thing you can do! Getting pregnant can be stressful, so figuring out ways to manage stress before it’s a problem is key. Here are some tips:
- Get ahead of the game by examining stressors in your life now. Pinpoint your 1-2 largest stressors (i.e. work load, lack of sleep, communication with your spouse) and make a game plan for managing that stress. You likely won’t figure it out in one step, but try tactics out until you feel above water.
- Remember that even “good stress”, like exercise, is still a stress on the body. Try low impact exercise like barre, yoga, or long walks to get your exercise in and endorphins flowing without adding too much stress.
- Sleep is typically the first place to start as many people do not get enough sleep (and you will need more if you’re pregnant!). Try creating a solid bedtime routine, and make sleep a priority.
- Block out time for yourself everyday. Start with 30 minutes and put it in your calendar if you need to. This doesn’t have to be meditation! Do something that totally takes your mind off your worries. Try: coloring, watching a guilty pleasure show, calling a friend, napping, listening to a podcast, reading a fluff magazine, reading a book, taking a long shower, dancing in your living room, baking, etc.
The world of toxins can be overwhelming, however focusing on a few things you have control over – like what you put on your face or in your hair – can really make a difference.
I have to point out the smoking cigarettes can cause chromosomal abnormalities in eggs. Quitting smoking is a must to improve your egg health! Here is more information on the effects smoking has on fertility.
Toxins to check for when buying personal care products like face wash, nail polish, and shampoo include:
Check out this post for more details on these specific toxins and what they are typically found in.
An app that helps me make more informed decisions without spending hours reading through ingredients, is Think Dirty. You can scan or enter the name of any product (they have over 860 thousand products registered) and up pops a number 0-10 with 0 being the least toxic/most natural and 10 being the most.
They recommend using products registering a 0-3, being weary of products 4-7, and ditching anything 8+. Personally, I aim for <4-5 depending on how often I use said product.
Another great source is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database where you can search thousands of products to see how the EWG rates them. For a list of recommended items jump over to their EWG Verified page and start shopping!
While increasing the vitamins and minerals you need to build a baby through foods is ideal, there are a few well researched supplements that are recommended specifically for boosting egg quality and fertility. Still, it’s important to discuss these supplements with your healthcare provider to ensure proper use and quantities.
- Prenatal multivitamin – All doctors recommend taking a folic acid supplement leading up to conception, through pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, but a well-rounded prenatal multivitamin will take care of your folic acid needs and more. This is the kind I used, that has DHA which is also recommended.
- Myo-inositol – Part of B vitamin complex, this supplement is insulin sensitizer, helping normalize blood sugar. Studies show higher levels of MI in follicular fluid is linked to better egg quality.
- CoQ10 – This naturally occurring fat-soluble nutrient essential for energy production. Production decreases with age so supplementation can help keep levels adequate for high egg quality.
- Omega-3 (EPA/DHA) – These fatty-acids are anti-inflammatory, and higher intakes could prolong reproductive lifespan. Once pregnant, they positively affect the neurodevelopment of the fetus.
Blood Flow and Oxygenation
Healthy eggs require plenty of oxygen rich blood flowing your ovaries. To increase blood flow, focus on the following:
- Drink plenty of water. Keep a large water bottle or tumbler with you throughout the day, always refilling when it’s empty.
- Get moving! Low impact exercise is the best way to literally get your blood flowing. Long walks, yoga, barre, hiking, etc. ANYTHING to move your body each day is great. Moving throughout the day as opposed to having 30 minutes of dedicated exercise, then sitting at a desk the rest of the day is clutch. Take a lap around the office or block, or do a few yoga poses if you’ve been sitting longer than an hour.
- Get a pro. Find an acupuncturist specializing in fertility or try a fertility massage. Or, try a self fertility massage by following this video.
Are you ready to start or expand your family? Preconception Health Coaching could be perfect for you! Click here for more information or email me at Samantha@simplywellcoaching.com to schedule a free 20 minute Discovery Call to see if Preconception Health Coaching is right for you!
Content provided by Women Belong member Samantha Kellgren