A topic that I have heard raised frequently of late, is that around fertility in women in their 30’s s and early 40’s. As women are choosing to have children later more frequently, many are feeling nervous to preserve their fertility and egg quality. This is fair given the decline in egg quality, particularly from 35 years. However, it’s not something to be afraid of if you are taking care of your body. There are several nutritional and herbal medicines that can be utilised to optimise egg quality and prepare for conception, I’m going to share a few strategies. Remember egg quality doesn’t change overnight, that’s why we need 3 cycles or 90 days to improve egg quality.
Fertility is about health at large, how well your body is functioning and inbalance. If you are worrying about fertility in years to come, the best thing you can do is sort out reproductive issues, digestive issues, stress and anxiety or other chronic disease patterns prior to when you’re wanting to conceive. Another common thought process I regularly see is relying on AMH or Anti-Mullerian hormone as the full picture of egg health. AMH is not a direct reflection of egg numbers, low AMH doesn’t exactly mean low egg count, it means current low ovarian functioning. AMH can increase or decrease, a low AMH is not a finite reduced chance of conception being possible. Furthermore, AMH does little to shed light on the quality of eggs or their DNA. For example, a high AMH for your age group can occur with PCOS, this does not guarantee your eggs are of optimal quality and conception will be a breeze for this individual.
If you have a low AHM you should have your vitamin D levels run, to ensure it’s not related to low vitamin D. Vitamin D is also required for healthy endometrium development, needed in implantation and healthy pregnancies. There is a correlation between fertility and optimal vitamin levels and both IVF and IVF with donor egg transfer, have been seen to be significantly more successful with adequate vitamin D levels.
The form of B vitamins taken for pre-conception and pregnancy nutrition is of the upmost importance. Gone are the days of pushing Folic acid pills on every prospective mother. We now understand that activated forms of particularly our folate and B12 are needed for almost half of the female population. This is because approximately 45% of the population has a genetic variant, in the way their body processes folate and potentially B12. You don’t know if you are in that percentage unless you have genetic testing run. Methylated B vitamins and the methyl groups they provide, are important for epigenetic oocyte DNA production. This is relevant for women of all reproductive ages wanting to conceive and has been seen to helps with egg quality and IVF pregnancy outcomes in research.
The activated form of CQ10, an antioxidant that protects oocyte DNA and mitochondria from oxidative stress and aging. Stress, both emotional and physical, toxins, infections and aging deplete our mitochondria, also known as the powerhouse of our cells, or in this case our oocytes cells. Numerous studies have outlined the validity of using CQ10 Ubiquinol for egg health, both in natural conception and in IVF outcomes. Ubiquinol has been seen to increase Oocyte retrieval rates, fertilisation rate and improve embryo transfer success.
Polygonum or Japanese Knot Weed supplies a bioavailable source of Resveratrol antioxidant useful in fertility preparation or for those planning to do an egg retrieval for IVF. This function is via increasing the number and quality of viable oocytes and improving fertilisation and developmental ability for Oocytes. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that protects our cells and DNA from oxidation, this extends to that of our oocytes providing these benefits.
Fertility and conception health is a personal, case by case topic when approached with holistic medicine. So as always if things are complicated or you want the best standard of care, it’s ideal to work with a practitioner with a solid grasp on holistic reproductive medicine. If you’re thinking conception is years off for you, simply addressing health concerns holistically as they arise and treating, your body with tender loving care are solid fertility sparing approaches. If you favour food as medicine and feel generally very healthy then focusing on eating foods that are rich in antioxidants such as green tea, cacao, turmeric, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, pomegranate, dragon fruit and any brightly coloured fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices for healthy DNA and healthy cell production is also wonderfully useful.