- Dr. Kali MacIsaac
Three Ways To Better Quality Eggs
The environment in which egg cells are growing during the process of recruitment and development has a major impact on the quality of the egg cell that is ovulated every cycle.
Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally, or with the help of an embryologist, optimizing the quality of eggs (oocytes) that are being produced is of paramount importance in increasing the likelihood of each cycle resulting in a healthy pregnancy. Oocytes require good blood supply, proper nutrition, the right hormonal signals and the ability to provide energy to the embryo in order to survive the initial stages of pregnancy and create a healthy baby.
What all women should understand is the following: egg quality is one of the biggest barriers to achieving healthy pregnancy, no matter your age. Even an incredibly healthy, fertile, 30-year old woman only has a 20% chance of getting pregnant every cycle - not every egg she ovulates could achieve healthy pregnancy.
Although it’s more common in women >40 to have poor quality eggs or respond poorly to IVF medications, it can happen to women who are chronologically younger if the aging process has been accelerated. Some ovaries age more quickly than others – and unfortunately neither Chinese or naturopathic medicine can increase the number of eggs that are left in an ovary or change their chromosomes. What we can do is bring the egg cells that do remain up to their peak potential.
At Acubalance, we always recommend a minimum of 3-6 months of treatment with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, naturopathic supplements and nutritional IVs before trying to conceive, because we are working to optimize this environment as the oocytes develop.
One of my favourite quotes from a research study on the importance of the cellular environment for egg quality says it so well:
“The production and development of oocytes depends on the follicular environment, which can be altered by the mother’s health and lifestyle.”
What can you do?
1. increase blood flow
-blood flow to the growing eggs (‘follicles’) is crucial for their healthy development. In older women, blood flow to the ovaries is lower than in younger women – reducing the amount of nutrients and oxygen that bathe the developing eggs
-eggs from ovaries that received adequate blood supply have higher fertilization rates during IVF cycles
How? Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow to the ovaries. The acupuncture points do not need to be on your abdomen to increase blood flow to the growing follicles – but your TCM doc should have extensive knowledge of reproductive Chinese medicine (ask if they have ABORM certification). Maintain proper hydration, to ensure proper circulation. Consider Mayan abdominal massage if there is a history of abdominal surgery or adhesions.
2. improve cellular energy
-the availability of energy to a growing oocyte determines whether cell division is suppressed or induced, thus controlling cell development
-eggs with more ATP (cellular energy) have a better chance of making viable embryos, and older eggs produce less ATP
-when embryos are given extra mitochondria (energy-producing organelles), it may be more likely that fertilized eggs become healthy early embryos
How? Support your mitochondria with oral supplements like CoQ10, nutritional IV therapies like IV glutathione, exercise moderately, take Chinese herbs, and receive LLLT laser therapy from your Acubalance doc. We recommend some, or all, of these strategies depending on a patient’s age, history and lifestyle.
3. provide necessary nutrients
-older oocytes have poorer defenses against oxidative stress by reactive oxygen species, which is damaging to egg cells
-antioxidants, like those from brightly coloured fruits and veggies, and supplemental antioxidants like acai berry and CoQ10 have been shown to improve response to IVF
-both undernourishment (deficiencies) and overnourishment (obesity) have been associated with poorer reproductive performance
-follicular fluid containing higher amounts of omega3 fatty acids, like those obtained from fish oil, results in higher fertilization rates and is positively correlated with pregnancy
How? Eat. Your. Veggies. I can’t say it enough – at least 50% of your plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner, should consist of brightly coloured veggies. Take a high quality fish oil supplement with around 1g of combined EPA and DHA daily. If you’re gearing up for an IVF cycle, incorporate a series of nutritional IVs to your prep, along with twice weekly acupuncture, to flood the cellular environment with good quality vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I have seen a series of nutritional IVs change IVF with CCS outcomes in patients - going from zero chromosomally normal embryos to 4 in a subsequent cycle in one memorable case.
If you’d like to know more about nutritional IV therapy, acupuncture, or how you can improve the quality of your eggs no matter your age – book for a free 15 minute consult with one of our experienced docs.
Dr. Kali MacIsaac HBSc, ND
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