How to Know It's Time to Boost Your Egg Quality for Fertility
Egg quality is crucial for your fertility as a woman. If you have poor quality eggs, you will not only find it difficult for you to get pregnant, but also to stay pregnant.
I often get asked, "how do I know I need to improve my egg quality?" from women looking to improve their fertility outcome. And my answer is as follows.
There isn’t a simple test to assess your egg quality like there is to access men's sperm quality, but there are several factors that can help you determine whether your egg quality is good or not. Conception and a healthy pregnancy is the ultimate sign, but here are a few signs you can track along the way.
Those in which I'll uncover in a little.
What exactly is egg quality?
Usually egg quality and egg quantity are mentioned together. But they are different.
Egg quality refers to the genetic component, its structure, its composition and other things that make it normal or abnormal. The quality of your eggs can decreases over time, but they don't have to.
Egg quantity is the total number of eggs that are still available in your ovaries, and allegedlely (verdict is still out on this), women are born with all the eggs we'll ever have. Your egg quantity can decrease over time as they get used up or disintegrate.
Keep reading to learn ways to know and detect whether your egg quality (and even quantity) is poor.
1. You've been trying to concieve for at least 6 to 12 months
First and foremost, if you and your partner have been trying to conceive for months, you may have an egg quality issue. Especially if you don't have PCOS or any other known reproductive illnesses, and y'all are having unprotected sex during your fertile window (ovulation time), yet still not falling pregnant.
Do not dismiss this as a "coincidence" or not being "God's timing". You should dig deeper into WHY you are not getting pregnant after several intentional attempts of trying. There is a reason and you egg quality may be it.
2. You're experiencing repeated miscarriages
A miscarriage happens when the embryo can’t grow and dies during the early stages of pregnancy. The quality of an egg is essential to develop into an embryo and carry pregnancy till full-term. A poor-quality egg will have trouble fertilizing, developing into a healthy embryo and implanting in the uterus.
Having multiple miscarriages could mean the eggs might not have the correct number of chromosomes or are abnormal - essentially pointing back to poor egg quality. If the pregnancy does go to term with an abnormal egg, it could lead to congenital defects like Down’s syndrome. Normally, in a healthy conception and fetus, the egg and sperm have 23 chromosomes each, totaling 46 chromosomes in the resulting embryo.
3. Failed fertility treatments and IVF transfers
If you've had failed fertility treatments and IVF transfers, poor egg quality can be the reason. Low-quality eggs can and will fail to fully develop into a healthy embryo and fetus. If by the third day in the lab the embryo has not achieved a six to eight-cell stage or doesn’t have a regular shape, these embryos can’t be used for the embryo transfer phase of IVF. Limited or zero embryos making to blastocyst state represents egg quality that is poor.
4. Low Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), estradiol and Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) levels
FSH is a hormone that is produced by your pituitary gland. As the name suggests, this hormone is responsible for stimulating your ovaries to produce a mature egg every month. As your egg quality decreases, they become more resistant to FSH, leading to low FSH reserve.
During menstruation, your estradiol levels increase to mature and release the eggs. It also helps thicken your uterine lining to facilitate the implantation of fertilized eggs. Low levels of estradiol results in low egg quality and quantity. This also lead to decreased implantation and pregnancy rates.
Your AMH levels can help predict if you are losing eggs too rapidly. However, it doesn’t necessarily tell you about the quality of the egg. So, if you have low AMH levels you could have less eggs, and could also but not necessarily have poor quality eggs.
5. Irregular ovulation and irregular periods
If you are not ovulating regularing or having regular periods, which by the way is a sign of underlying hormonal issues, you probably have low quality eggs. Each month during ovulation your ovaries release one egg (or two or more occasionaly) that could get fertilized by sperm to form an embryo, and then if it gets implanted in the uterus, it could lead to a pregnancy. This cycle doesn't happen with irregular ovulation.
Irregular ovulation and periods could include you experiencing menstrual cycles that are long or short, or having periods that are late, or having no periods at all, or also having periods with light or heavy flow. Any of these could be due to poor egg quality.
The quality of an egg greatly affects your fertility. The poorer your egg quality the lower your fertility and the lesser your chances of conception.
Love and health,
- Shavonne Richardson