Fertility Tips: How to Improve Egg Quality for IVF

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how to improve egg quality for ivf

Want to know how to improve egg quality for IVF? This post reviews lifestyle changes and medical interventions that can help. It is my sincere wish for you that these recommendations help you increase your chances of a successful egg retrieval and embryo transfer, and ultimately, a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.

If you are undergoing  in vitro fertilization (IVF), you will soon learn that it is all about the quality of your eggs, not about the quantity. For both of my IVF cycles, I was concerned with my numbers despite knowing that quality was the most important factor. “All it takes is one,” they would tell me. But we were working dealing with Male Factor Infertility – Nonobstructive Azoospermia to be specific – and we only had so many vials of sperm to work with. So to me, it really mattered how many healthy embryos we were left with.

My Egg Retrieval Stats

While my follicle count was decent for both of my cycles, the amount of mature eggs retrieved was on the lower side. I’d heard stories of countless women saying how they’d had 10, 20, even 30 eggs retrieved. 30! And there I was with well under 10 both times. My fertility doctor told me that for each stage of the process, expect the numbers to be cut in half.

And that’s before you even get to the transfer stage, which isn’t a guarantee.

So, if you have 12 retrieved, expect 6 to be mature, 3 to fertilize, and 1-2 to make it to a Day 5 embryo.

Well, I had 6 eggs retrieved on my first cycle, and 2 eggs retrieved on my second cycle. *Yikes* you might think. I know I did. Low odds from my point of view. My hopes for a successful cycle were dwindling.

Here were my numbers from my two successful IVF cycles:

Cycle 1 (resulting in my daughter): 

  • 6 eggs retrieved
  • 5 mature
  • 4 fertilized, 2 with top grading (healthy candidates for implantation), 2 with slightly lower grading
  • 1 made it to a Day 4 embryo before being deemed unviable, 2 made it to Day 5 embryos, or blastocysts (a rapidly dividing ball of egg cells). One is now my daughter and the other is on ice.

So, 33% success.

Cycle 2 (resulting in my son): 

  • 2 eggs retrieved
  • 2 mature
  • 2 fertilized with top grading (healthy candidates for implantation)
  • 1 made it to a Day 3 transfer* and the other made it to a Day 5 embryo, or blastocyst. The Day 3 transfer is now my son and the other is on ice.

So, 100% success.

* Because I had such a small amount of eggs retrieved on my second cycle, my doctor chose to transfer a healthy Day 3 embryo to increase my odds, and allowed the second to continue on to a Day 5 embryo to become stronger and more viable before freezing.

Not what you expected, was it? Given what I knew of the general odds and the number of eggs I had retrieved, it wasn’t what I expected either. This told me that quality of eggs was really important, not quantity.

Why improve egg quality?

For obvious reasons, the quality of our eggs affects our success rates. High quality eggs produce high quality embryos that are more likely to implant at your embryo transfer, and result in a successful pregnancy.

You can have 20 low quality eggs retrieved, meaning that they are immature eggs that may not be viable enough for fertilization. Or you can have 10 healthy eggs retrieved and a great chance of fertilization and thriving embryos.

There are many reasons why someone may want to improve the overall health of their eggs, whether it has to do with their experience trying to conceive naturally, unsuccessful IUI or IVF cycles, or a diagnosed issue relating to hormone levels/hormonal imbalance.

  • Multiple failed cycles, or cycles resulting in low quality eggs
  • Miscarriages
  • Low follicle count
  • Age
  • Diminished ovarian reserve early in life
  • General poor egg quality
  • Low FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)
  • Low estradiol
  • Low AMH

How to Improve Egg Quality for IVF

Improving egg quality is crucial for successful IVF. While there’s no guaranteed method to improve egg quality, certain lifestyle changes and medical interventions might enhance your chances. However, before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or undergoing medical treatments, please consult with a healthcare provider or a fertility specialist.

Before starting your next IVF cycle, consider these tips for improving egg quality, including lifestyle factors and medical interventions.

Lifestyle Changes: 

  • Healthy Diet: a poor diet can directly impact egg health.

    • Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables (leafy greens), whole grains, and lean proteins.

    • Consider supplements like folic acid, vitamin D, and CoQ10, which are believed to support egg quality. A good place to start is prenatal vitamins – no need to buy multiple separate vitamins!

    • Studies show that following the mediterranean diet positively impacts female fertility.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight:

    • Being underweight or overweight can affect fertility. For example, of women with obesity and PCOS, losing 5% body weight drastically improves the chances of ovulation and pregnancy. Aim for a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet.

  • Regular Exercise:

    • Engage in moderate exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga. However, avoid starting excessive or intense workouts before your cycle if your body isn’t already used to the motions and stress.

  • Manage Stress:

    • Practice stress-reducing activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. High-stress levels can negatively impact fertility.

  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol:

    • Limit your intake of caffeine and avoid alcohol consumption, as they may interfere with hormonal balance.

  • Avoid Smoking and Recreational Drugs:

    • Smoking and drugs can harm egg quality.

  • Lifestyle Changes for Your Partner:

    • Sperm quality also plays a vital role. Your partner should also maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid smoking and excessive alcohol, and manage stress.

Medical Interventions:

  • Ovulation Induction:

    • If you have irregular ovulation, medications like Clomid or letrozole might be prescribed to regulate your menstrual cycle and improve egg quality.

  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):

    • ICSI can be used alongside IVF, where a single sperm is directly injected into an egg. This can be beneficial if there are concerns about the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg.

  • Donor Eggs:

    • If your egg quality is a significant concern, using donor eggs from healthy younger women might be an option.

  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT):

    • PGT can identify chromosomal abnormalities in embryos before they are implanted, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.

  • Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):

    • Some studies suggest that acupuncture and TCM might help improve fertility by promoting blood flow to the reproductive organs and reducing stress.

Remember, every individual is different. It’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare provider or fertility specialist who can tailor a plan based on your specific situation and needs. They can conduct tests to determine the underlying causes of fertility issues and suggest appropriate interventions accordingly.

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