There’s a persistent misconception that a woman’s egg quality is largely untouchable—you get what you get, and the rest is out of your hands. While that’s true insofar as a woman is born with all the eggs she’ll ever have, a number that will decline over time, actual egg quality can be influenced by external factors. But can you improve egg quality in 90 days for the best chances of a healthy preconception, pregnancy and baby? Read on.
- While egg quantity can’t be changed, egg quality can be influenced by diet and lifestyle choices.
- The egg maturation process is roughly 90 days, which means healthy choices made during the three-month preconception window can be really beneficial.
- Specific nutrients can support egg quality in a few different ways.
- In addition to eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, hydrating properly, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, it’s important to take a good prenatal vitamin to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients in the right amounts.
Egg Quality and Fertility
Here’s the thing about egg quality: it’s the high-quality eggs that have the best chance of developing into an embryo, implanting in the uterus and becoming a successful pregnancy. When people talk about egg quality, it’s really a reference to whether an egg is chromosomally normal, AKA euploid, or abnormal, AKA aneuploid. The better your egg quality, the better your fertility (i.e. your ability to become pregnant).
Women begin life with up to two million eggs, but thousands will be lost before puberty. Once she begins puberty, an egg is released every month in preparation for ovulation, and another thousand or so are shed with each menstrual cycle. But the older a woman becomes, the more likely it is that errors occur during the cell division step of the egg maturation process. That can create abnormalities that prevent embryos from implanting properly, trigger miscarriage or result in chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome. In fact, by the time a woman is 35, roughly half of her eggs will remain chromosomally normal.
A number of lifestyle choices can wreak havoc on egg quality, so consider nixing these habits as ground zero if you’re planning a baby:
- Smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes mutate DNA in egg cells, rendering them unsuitable for conception and increasing the likelihood of birth defects. Of course, that’s in addition to all the other health hazards this habit poses. If you’re still smoking, now is the time to quit.
- Stressing. All that stress-induced cortisol and prolactin in your system hinder egg production by interfering with ovulation. Stress-reducing activities like yoga, massage therapy, meditation and breathwork are key, and your body as a whole will appreciate it, too.
- Eating a nutritionally-void diet. This is a big one. A diet high in trans fats and simple sugar contributes to systemic inflammation, a scenario that is detrimental to the follicle fluid surrounding the eggs.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of consistent movement is often pinpointed as a cause of fertility issues, because it tends to go hand in hand with excess body weight. Reproductive processes are negatively affected by abnormal hormonal and metabolic factors in overweight and obese women.
Improving Egg Quality: A Timeline
The maturation process from oocyte (or immature egg) to an egg primed for ovulation is roughly three months. Oocytes hang out, dormant, in the ovaries until they’re up to bat, where they’ll begin developing in a follicle, which are found in the outer layer of the ovaries. During each cycle, a few follicles will begin developing. Usually, only one egg will fully mature and is released from its follicle during ovulation (unless there are two, and then you’re looking at a fraternal twin scenario).
Understanding the timeline is important if you’re researching ways to improve egg quality. Since the maturation process is about 90 days, the three months leading up to conception are prime time for making mindful changes to your lifestyle and diet. Of course, these changes may pay off sooner rather than later too, meaning that 30 days of healthy habits will also benefit your fertility (not to mention your health as a whole!).
Now, let’s talk specifics.
There really is no magic bullet when it comes to improving fertility. But focusing on living a healthy lifestyle is a step in the right direction, and nutrition is a key player. A diet high in antioxidant nutrients can reduce inflammation in the body and help protect eggs from oxidative stress. Your best bet is to prioritize veggies, lean protein sources, and healthy fats, go organic whenever possible, and take a “whole foods” approach that means you’re eating foods that are as close to nature as possible.
Take a prenatal vitamin.
Key nutrients have also been identified for their role in supporting egg quality:
- Vitamins B6 and B12, which help promote normal ovulation
- Folate, which protects against chromosomal abnormalities
- Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect maturing eggs from oxidative damage
- Vitamin K2, which aids in metabolizing estrogen and progesterone
In addition to a nutritious diet, one of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting these nutrients and others designed to support your fertility is through supplementation. If you’re planning on a baby, experts advise starting a high-quality prenatal vitamin during the preconception period to ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients in all the right amounts. Beli for Women contains vitamins B6 and B12, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K2, among other important nutrients. Plus, it's just three capsules a day.
Some research suggests that insufficient sleep and sleep disturbances may influence fertility, and there’s no question that your mental and physical health hinge on good sleep. Make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of quality rest every night (1).
Water is essential for the body’s natural process of detoxification. Flush away toxins by ensuring you’re getting the recommended amount of water daily. Consider adding a hydration pack once a day—the electrolytes and trace minerals help you hydrate more effectively. Just remember to look for sugar-free versions.
Minimize caffeine and alcohol.
Caffeine and alcohol really don’t have a place in a healthy lifestyle, especially one designed to nourish your fertility. Caffeine depletes key vitamins and minerals required for ovulation (2), and alcohol is likewise detrimental to ovulation (3).
Between 30 and 60 minutes of movement every day can support fertility, help regulate your cycle, support ovulation, even decrease miscarriage risk (4). Just be aware that over-exercising isn’t the goal here, since that can disrupt hormone function.
All of the things experts recommend for a healthy body and mind support your fertility, too, and that includes nourishing egg quality. But if a baby is the goal, this is the time to get started. Give yourself three months to really focus on your health, and your eggs will thank you!
- Kloss, J et al. (2015). Sleep, sleep disturbance and fertility in women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402098/
- Ulvik, A et al. (2008). Coffee consumption and circulating B-vitamins in healthy middle-aged men and women. https://academic.oup.com/clinchem/article/54/9/1489/5628649
- Anwar, M et al. (2021). The association between alcohol intake and fecundability during menstrual cycle phases. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34102671/
- The role of exercise in improving fertility, quality of life and emotional well-being. https://www.yourfertility.org.au/sites/default/files/2018-08/The_role_of_exercise_in_improving_fertility.pdf
*Any statement made on Belibaby.com has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We recommend consulting with your medical provider before starting any new supplement.This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Beli.