When I first started out in clinic, many women were coming in for assistance with their egg quality in preparation for egg collection as part of their IVF treatments. To date, this is still very much part of what we do however in recent times, there has been an increasing number of women requesting support for egg quality and fertility not necessarily for the near future, but for if and when the time is right to conceive.
Many young women are being encouraged to freeze their eggs for several reasons be it circumstance, health issues or fertility concerns, but the most common reason is age. There are a few facets that need to be considered when it comes to egg freezing and supporting women more in this intriguingly new space and somewhat new approach the longevity of a woman fertility. Forgive me if this post is long, I will try and break it down simply with the facts to support you, help increase your egg quality and fertility too, no matter where you are at. Fertility isn’t just about babies, but rather a thriving reproductive system ready when you are to fire away.
Ask yourself why?
First up it’s really important to ask yourself the question why. Why am I freezing my eggs? One of the most common reasons I see women freezing their eggs is due to low AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone). There have been countless times I’ve spoken in depth about my concern over the accuracy of this test. Most recently I got to chatting with my friend Aimee Raupp in an episode 10 of The Wellness Collective podcast where we dug into AMH and how to use your AMH to your advantage. AMH, if you’re unfamiliar, supposedly tests your ovarian reserve to predict your fertility potential. Without digging into why I think this test is extremely questionable (and therefore certainly not something I see as a defining result), I see women’s AMH results dramatically improve after following a few simple steps which we will dig into here today. That tells me one of two things – either we are not born with all of our eggs (I think likely since every other cell in our body has the ability to replicate) OR this test isn’t accurate. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t really matter. Let’s just improve your hormones as much as possible and maximise your fertility on the whole to set you up for your best possible outcome.
Another common reason women tend to opt for egg freezing if they aren’t ready to conceive is age. Sigh. I wrote this piece a little while ago discussing how a woman in her 40’s could be more fertile than a woman in her 30’s. Yes, we know fertility declines with age BUT again there is no definite or defining factor and I see very healthy and fertile women well into their 40’s. Equally I see some pretty unhealthy twenty-something-year-olds. To me, age is just a number, what we should be focusing on is overall health and wellbeing – I promise you with this, your fertility will follow. Your age does not define you and we see women in their 40’s regularly falling pregnant. Freezing eggs due to age isn’t a bad idea, more so an insurance policy incase your natural fertility isn’t playing the game.
Improving your fertility naturally also increases your success of assisted conception
The other common denominator leading women to egg freezing is due to health issues like PCOS, Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, certain cancers being amongst the most common. Again, I’m not at all opposed to freezing eggs, but it prompts me to suggest you look at fixing the core issue at hand. All these conditions are treatable and we’ve discussed that in great detail many times. And who wouldn’t want to treat their Endo or PCOS anyway? The symptoms due to these conditions can be pretty nasty and something no girl should have to experience. In any case, symptoms are your body’s way of telling you what’s going on internally so using these as clues to really make inroads to health is key.
Freezing your eggs alone isn’t necessarily the best insurance policy if your health is a little (or a lot) awry. In fact, like anything in life, you want to put yourself in the best position before investing in egg collection and storing or pregnancy for that matter. Freezing your eggs isn’t necessarily a walk down easy street. There’s a lot to coordinate not to mention drugs (that sadly have side effects), appointments, hard earned dollars and a little extra stress on the body, all thrown in the mix. For these reasons it certainly isn’t something you just wake up one day, walk into your doctors office and collect right then are there. There are a host of factors to consider and time and you want to give it your best change – hence why preparing your body in the best way is so important and can save you thousands.
Where to start?
If you find yourself in the midst of gynaecological health battles, it’s so important to start here, look at what your body is communicating with you and dig deep. I get this can be hard to sort out on your own, but what counts most is what you do daily, not necessarily what you do when you step into your health care professionals office. Sure they can give you some answers and some insight but it is what you then do that can change things up – for the better. For this reason, I’ve done the hard work for you. In my book Well & Good I discuss the basics of the most common issues including Endo, PCOS, infertility and peri menopause. I want you to understand what’s going on and to be able to take the reigns of your diet and lifestyle to support your health, not lead it up the garden path sans broom.
Once you can look at the why and understand your health issues better, it’s essential you get a grasp on the drivers of your issues. Stress is always at the centre point. But remember stress isn’t just being busy or running late and feeling flustered. It can be sub-average gut health, poor liver detoxification (check out my free cleanse as a great start), emotions, chemical exposure, nutrient deficiencies and intolerances being the most common. Truthfully, your genetics dictate the conditions you are predisposed to, but the good news is that you can influence your body to preform optimally when you can minimise stressors – no matter what your presenting symptoms, your body can work better if you show it how. Understanding the factors that are ‘turning on’ your symptoms is a big piece of the puzzle. If you’re searching for what that might be, here’s some help.
Once you can put your finger on common stressors, there are some tangible additions that are easily to adopt and add in. My best suggestions include;
+ Like treats like. This ancient concept has stood the test of time. Look to nature for foods that support your reproductive health. Eggs assist in egg quality (probably because they tick fat and protein boxes, something I suggest is essential at every meal for happy hormones since your hormones are made of these). Avocado’s represent the womb and funnily enough take 9 months to grow and ripen. Make no mistake – that is no coincidence! Olives are wonderful as they are packed full of antioxidants and help to clean up the effects of stress and then of course my favourite – nuts! They tick many boxes for happy and healthy hormones. I dive into this deeply in Well & Good also.
+ CoQ10 has been shown to improve egg quality and fertility on the whole. It assists in boosting the function of the mitochondria – the powerhouse of your cells. It’s a favourite of mine in the clinic alongside a few other good quality supplements like magnesium (amazing for stress), B vitamins, Zinc and Fish Oil.
+ Reduce stimulants like alcohol, smoking and don’t overdo it on the caffeine. A cup a day most likely won’t cause any issues, but if you’re nudging up to 3+ cups per day it is certainly something to think about.
+ Exercise your reproductive organs. If you’re flying solo, this may be easier said than done, but regular sex is key to increasing blood flow to the uterus. Acupuncture is also another amazing way to iron out the creases that stress causes as well as balance the body and increase uterine blood flow.
Just one thing
The best advice I can give is to take it one thing at a time. Whilst there isn’t just “one thing” you can do, rather than overwhelming yourself and your body, taking a simple and balanced approach I believe is where it’s at. We can want to throw ourselves ‘all in’, but in the long run, that gets pretty tiring. Take it easy and put yourself in the best position for great eggs.
So to summarise here’s a list!
+ Follow a diet that is high in fat and protein and limited processed foods, exactly like I advocate for in Well & Good.
+ Look out for your gut – ensure you have quality prebiotics, probiotics as well as collagen to support gut permeability and the microbiome.
+ Iron out stress with practices like exercise (not too much, moderate intensity is best), acupuncture, massage or yoga.
+ Get the right supplements onboard – CoQ10, Fish Oil, Magnesium, B Vitamins & Zinc as a great start. There are always more but I prefer to keep it simple and these are an excellent start.
+ Reduce stimulants and other stress that may be impacting general wellbeing.
+ Practice regular sex where possible for increased uterine blood flow.
If you’re keen to understand yet another facet of stress, check out this months LIVE chat – you can catch the replay as part of the Wellness Collective Membership, this month we chatted in depth about the adrenals and how they are an essential player in improving hormone health and especially your fertility. Remember, your eggs are an extension of your fertility.