Want to know the ten things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to optimize your egg health?! Find out which lifestyle changes you can make for better quality eggs starting TODAY....
When we were freezing our eggs, we wanted to do it in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY, without it taking over our already busy lives.
With an ocean of overwhelming advice out there, we've done the heavy lifting by distilling some of the science into TEN simple tips that can give you a head start on fortifying your fertility future.
(Note: This applies to you whether you're trying to get pregnant naturally, preparing for IVF or egg freezing, or even if you're not ready for kids now, but looking to maintain your fertility.)
We first revealed these tips in a radio interview with the wise and wonderful Susana Kennedy. Hint: if you can’t put a finger on her accent, it’s South African! We were in the 2oceansvibe studio in sunny Cape Town.
Listen to the Top Ten Fertility Tips interview with Susana :
We had great fun, despite some minor microphone problems in a few places, sorry if you notice! But that's showbiz, baby.
1. Minimize plastic in your kitchen - switch to glass
We hear a lot about plastics being bad for health in general and that includes reproductive health. Chemicals in plastics have been shown in many, many studies around the world to disrupt your hormones. Hormone balance is important for the proper maturation of your eggs as well as well as other reproductive functions. BPA is just one you might have heard of (it’s known as the “gender bending” chemical as it’s linked to man boobs and even genital malformation), but even their replacements like BPE can be just as bad.
Plastic chemicals leach into food and drinks, especially microwaved Tupperware or plastic takeaway containers. The same goes with some water bottles. Switch to glass bottles where possible. This even goes for some sex toys made of plastic!
2. Avoid household and personal care products with unnatural fragrances (often listed as “parfum” on the label).
Products with fragrance often include a group of chemicals called “phthalates.” Phthalates mimic hormones like estrogen in your body in such a way that they can actually HALT the maturation of your eggs.
Phthalates can be found in everything from detergent, cleaning products, lotions, shampoos, and nail polish. Avoid items that say fragrance or perfume on the label, and look for "phthalate-free" or "no synthetic fragrance" instead.
3. Switch to “paraben free” cosmetics
Parabens are a class of chemicals used as a preservatives (basically they stop mold and bacteria from growing in your foundation etc.). Studies have shown parabens can actually penetrate your skin and be absorbed in tissues where they disrupt your hormones - again, having a negative effect on your eggs.
The key is to always read the label/packaging in order to avoid buying makeup and other cosmetics with ingredients the have the word ‘parabens’ at the end of them. The most common names to look out for are butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. So you’ve got to look for "-paraben" within a larger word on the label.
4. Replace folic acid supplements with its other more active form, 5-MTHF
You’ve probably heard about folic acid being an important supplement for pregnancy, but it has also shown to help in the creation of quality eggs.
5-MTHF is what your body converts folic acid to anyway, but taking it in this active form has been shown to make it more effective. It is also commonly known as methyl-folate and is sold under the brand names Metafolin and Deplin
5. Take a Coenzyme Q10 supplement, but also in its active form: Ubiquinol
Coenzyme Q10 fuels something called mitochondria, which are the power banks of the cells in your ovaries. It takes a huge amount of energy to mature eggs and mitochondria supply this energy.
The problem is that as we age, the mitochondria loses steam, like a battery that loses power over time. By supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 you can give your eggs an extra charge that will help them reach the final stages of maturation. Just make sure you’re buying a bottle of CoQ10 in its ACTIVE form: Ubiquinol.
6. Take a prenatal vitamin
This can provide you with a cocktail of helpful antioxidants for your eggs that will protect them during the fragile months of maturation.
Look for a high quality prenatal that includes vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, and iodine.
7. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday
Sleep is a bit of a zeitgeisty topic - but we tend to talk about getting ENOUGH of it. But scientists have found the RHYTHM of it is also really important. We now know not just getting sufficient sleep, but getting good quality sleep translates to good quality eggs, as reproductive hormones are produced while you sleep. Illustrating this, studies have shown women who work shifts (like nurses or cabin crew) and have irregular sleep/wake times tend to have more reproductive problems.
By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day you aren’t fighting your circadian rhythm, which can do a lot to help you get great quality sleep.
8. Think about adding more into your meals than taking away
There are an endless amount of nutrients and antioxidants in a wide range of healthy foods that can both nourish and protect your eggs. Most often, food is the best and only way you can effectively absorb these crucial nutrients, opposed to supplements. This also means that people with restrictive diets like being a vegetarian (Susanna) or on the ketogenic diet will need to be more aware of any potential deficiencies.
This also means that you might need to change up your dietary routine so you don’t get too much of one nutrient and not enough of another. For example, if you eat eggs for breakfast everyday, try adding a side of avocado or mixing it up with spinach. Salads are also a great way to pack in a bunch of different ingredients like nuts, berries, sprouts and crunchy veggies.
9. Eat like a diabetic
By this, we mean you don’t want big fluctuations of the hormone insulin. Insulin has a cascading effect on the function of other hormones - including estrogen. You want to maintain a balanced diet that avoids excessive sugar. This includes all refined carbohydrates, as well as the white granules that can lead to insulin imbalance. A sugary diet is especially problematic for women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a common reproductive health issue.
10. Don’t over exercise
A moderate amount of exercise reduces oxidative stress, but beyond a certain point extreme exercise (or a sudden boost in frequency or intensity) can actually INCREASE it, which can damage your maturing eggs.
To avoid overexercising, avoid starting a new aggressive fitness routine. On the other hand, stick at gentle cardio or relaxing yoga, which can help your overall physical, mental and egg health.
PUT THESE TIPS INTO ACTION...
The unfortunate truth is that there are no shortcuts when it comes to optimizing your ovaries. Good fertility is based on good health, and we all know that means living well and making good choices everyday.
But the good news is that these ten simple tips can give you a head start on preserving and enhancing your natural fertility! This comes with peripheral benefits too - by embracing these powerful steps you will feel empowered, strong, sorted and in control.
Keep us updated on your own journey!