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What can I do to improve egg quality?

by admin on March 28, 2017 No comments

Egg Quality is something that can come up in a conversation with a Fertility Specialist. AMH Testing will determine your ovarian reserve, but if you’re told your egg quality is poor. Is there anything you can do about it? The answer is Yes & Scientific evidence is backing this claim up.

What’s my AMH go to do with it?

Egg numbers are determined while a female foetus is in the womb. By the time she’s born she has 1 million eggs available. As she ages through childhood, adolescence and adulthood her number of eggs decline naturally until at menopause when she has no viable eggs left. The test for your ovarian reserve is AMH or Anti-Mullerian Hormone.

Sometimes your AMH can be normal, but your egg quality is poor.

In cases of older women AMH can be on the low side already, but combined with poor egg quality, this is where time is of the absolute essence.

What can IVF do about poor egg quality?

There’s not a lot IVF or a fertility specialist can do to improve the quality of eggs. The system of IVF is a numbers game with it’s strength being in the proliferation of eggs from recruited follicles for collection.

The latest experiments are trying to see if injecting younger mitochondria into eggs of older women to see if this makes any impact. They have found that Chinese Herbs are achieving this without such measures and enhancing cell energy output (see below under “Energy”).

To IVF Doctors and fertility specialists, Egg Quality is seen through the filter of the quality of the DNA in the egg. As women age, this DNA which was determined at the beginning of the woman’s life, has over time been subject to natural ageing processes also.

However, research conducted about women with Low AMH and poor egg quality in conjunction with Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment was quite positive. But HOW Can TCM help Egg Quality?

Its these 3 ways that research has found egg quality improves:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Oxygenation
  3. Mitochondrial Energy

Let’s look at them in more detail…

There is more to an egg than just its DNA and it is in consideration of it’s other components that we hope to apply some influence. ~ Jane Lyttleton, Acupuncturist, Author, Researcher

The Egg Environment

Environment impacts upon the egg’s final quality before release and meeting sperm. The ideal environment required good blood flow, oxygen, nutrients, hormone signals and the potential to provide energy to an embryo.

Research has shown that eggs that come from follicles with optimal blood supply and oxygen content have higher fertilization rates and developmental potential leading to improved IVF outcomes.

Nutrition

The Problem: Older ovaries have a limited blood supply as it deteriorates over time. Therefore eggs from older ovaries don’t get the best oxygenation or nutrient-rich blood flow.

A Solution: “Acupuncture has been shown to promote the growth of new blood vessels and to specifically increase blood flow to the ovaries.”

Ref: Stener-Victorin E, Kobayashi R, Kurosawa M. Ovarian Blood flow responses to electro-acupuncture stimulation at different fequencies and intesities in aneasthetised rats. Auton Neurosci (2003)

Oxygenation

The problem: Reduced blood supply in older ovaries means limited oxygenated blood gets to the ovaries and eggs.

A Solution: “Acupuncture has been shown to promote the growth of new blood vessels and to specifically increase blood flow to the ovaries.”

Ref:

  • Stener-Victorin E, Kobayashi R, Kurosawa M. Ovarian Blood flow responses to electro-acupuncture stimulation at different fequencies and intesities in aneasthetised rats. Auton Neurosci (2003)
  • Tejera A, Herrero J. delosSantos MJ. Oxygen consumption is a quality marker for human oocyte competence conditioned by ovarian stimulation regimens. Fertil Steril (2011)

Energy

Okay, lets take this slow, as this needs a little more explanation.

(a) Mitochondria are microscopic components of all cells. They are markers for egg quality.

(b) They are the energy production centre for the cell. The bi-product is called ATP (energy)

(c) The egg or Oocyte is a cell itself.

(d) So Mitochondria are donated from the oocyte to a newly formed embryo.

(e) It is the energy from the mitochondria that initiates the cell division needed for an embryo to grow. As cells divide, cells multiply and the embryo grows.

The problem: Fewer mitochondria, poor mitochondrial function, less ATP can lead to unsuccessful implantation and non-viable embryos.

Mitochondria of older eggs aren’t great at ATP Production.

Eggs of poor responders to IVF drugs have 3 times less mitochondria than good responders.

A solution: Chinese Herbs, more specifically Kidney herbs have been scientifically shown to boost mitochondrial activity & ATP production.

Ref: Dumollard R, Duchen M, Carroll J. The role of mitochondrial function in the oocyte & embry. Curr Top Dev Biol (2007)

So now all that scientific stuff has been covered, you may be thinking:

What do I do now? What can I do about poor egg quality?

The first-step suggestions are:

  • Receiving some regular Acupuncture to benefit blood flow & oxygenation to your pelvic area and direct circulation towards your ovaries. This will enhance nutrition delivered to these structures.
  • Receiving Chinese Herbs. Not just any Chinese Herbs, but under the guidance of a Chinese Herbalist who is registered or has experience in Fertility/IVF protocols.

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