What's Your Egg Quality IQ?
It is no news that infertility is on the rise in the US. While some believe the rise infertility is linked to maternal age, that’s not always true.
In fact, leading researchers wonder if there’s something in our lifestyle or environment that may be reducing fertility. Some experts link infertility and poor egg quality with the increases in chronic diseases like asthma, heart attacks, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
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.
Also, certain risk factors for poor egg quality at or around the time of fertilization were identified. These risk factors include the following:
What's your egg IQ?
Did you ever think that your lifestyle habits before pregnancy could influence the health of your future babies? While age is still the key determinant of egg quality, age is not the only factor that’s considered when getting pregnant.
The health of the developing eggs and their ability to respond to internal or external hormonal stimulation may be affected by the following:
- Poor blood flow
- Toxic substances like cigarettes and environmental contaminants
- Inflammation caused by stress or diet
- Hormonal imbalances
- Intake of unhealthy dietary fats.
You may wonder if alternative medicine therapies can help you increase fertility and help you get pregnant. Ironically, many medical experts downplay alternative treatments such as nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga. They claim there is little proof to support these methods.
But the reality is that few clinical trials have even studied the effect of alternative treatments on regulating ovulation and getting pregnant. So it is difficult to draw accurate conclusions if there are few scientific studies.
Ways to boost egg quality
If getting pregnant is your goal, talk to your doctor about ways to boost egg quality, especially if you’ve been told that you have diminished ovarian reserve and/or poor egg quality. Keep in mind that making a significant impact on egg quality is not a short-term undertaking. You may want to make lifestyle changes for a minimum of three months and up to 13 months. Here are some suggestions that may help:
Tip 1: Consider acupuncture and herbal treatment. Both of these therapies have been used for thousands of years to help regulate the menstrual cycle. Therapies from Traditional Chinese Medicine are thought to restore an oocyte’s ability to respond to hormonal cues by assisting in regulating and balancing the hormone cycle. Some practitioners find that acupuncture helps to stimulate blood flow to the ovaries.
Tip 2: Revamp your diet. Try to get rid of foods that cause inflammation, including refined sugar, corn-fed red meat, some preservatives and nitrates, omega-6 fatty acids, and transfats. Studies show that chronic inflammation decreases the cells’ ability to respond to hormonal cues. Inflammation plays a role in diabetes and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Tip 3: Work with a fertility dietitian. Hormonal health may be improved with the use of nutritional supplements, adopting an anti-inflammatory/hypo-allergenic diet, and improving GI function.
Tip 4: Get rid of toxins in your living environment. Eliminate substances such as parabens (in cosmetics), phthalates (in pliable plastics), Bisphenol A (in plastics), PCBs and PBDEs (in coolants, flame retardants). Not only do these toxins mimic the reproductive hormones of the body, they are linked to both infertility and cancer.
Tip 5: Lower your stress level. Chronic stress is linked to both hormonal disruption and inflammation. Relaxing and limiting stress is important to re-establishing hormonal balance.
Tip 6: Exercise for endurance, flexibility and strength. Find activities you enjoy such as walking, swimming and yoga. In contrast to high intensity activities like running, spinning and impact aerobics, yoga boosts blood flow into the internal organs by releasing tight musculature in the hips, groin and low back.
Take charge of your fertility
No matter what you do, realize there are choices you can make that may influence your fertility and boost the chance of getting pregnant.
Take a look at your diet and lifestyle habits. Review your exercise regimen (…or lack of one). If you smoke or drink, stop. Do all you can in your power to boost egg quality and in doing so, increase the chances of getting pregnant.
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- Pulling Down the Moon
- National Institutes of Health's Female Health and Egg Quality Initiative