How to Improve Egg Quality after 40

If you’ve come to this article looking for ways to improve egg quality after 40, then you are likely already aware that a woman’s chances of getting pregnant decreases with age.  Unfortunately, women see a drastic decrease in egg quality and quantity when they reach the age of 40 .  There is nothing we can do to prevent the regular loss of eggs as you age.  The good news is, there are several fertility supplements you can take and dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your oocyte (egg) quality and overall fertility after 40.  

So… let’s dive in!

Fast Facts

  • Egg quality refers to the proportion of a woman’s eggs that are genetically normal.  The amount of genetically normal eggs a woman has decreases as she ages.  By 40, less than half of a woman’s eggs are considered normal.  
  • There’s no fertility test available to assess egg quality. The only way to know if an egg is chromosomally normal is to fertilize it and perform a genetic test on the resulting embryo.
  • Women in their 40s have consistent live birth rates when they use donor eggs. This indicates that oocyte quality decline is the major contributing factor for age-related infertility.
  • You can change your fertility at 40 by improving your ovarian microenvironment, which protects your remaining ovarian reserve and increases your chances for producing “normal” quality eggs.  

What is Egg Quality and Why does it Matter

Egg quality refers to the status of an oocyte as genetically normal or abnormal.  Female babies are born with all of the eggs they will ever have.  When women ovulate, their eggs go through a cell division, known as meiosis.  As women age and their eggs become older, those eggs are more likely to accumulate errors in their DNA during that division process.

Genetically normal eggs have 23 chromosomes (euploid).  Genetically abnormal eggs contain cells with degraded DNA.  As women age, a higher percentage o their eggs become abnormal.  Since DNA is like a road map for our cells, any DNA damage to eggs can prevent them from fertilizing properly and becoming a healthy embryo and eventually a baby.  

How Long Does it take to Improve Egg Quality?

Eggs take approximately 90-120 days to develop and mature fully.  As such, fertility specialists recommend taking supplements, starting acupuncture, and making diet/ lifestyle changes 3-4 months before trying to conceive.  Don’t stress out if you feel like you’re in a time crunch!  Making these changes even one month before trying to conceive, especially with fertility treatments, has been shown to positively impact egg quality.  

Foods/Diet to Improve Egg Quality after 40 

Everyone knows that our diet and proper nutrition have a direct effect on our health.  It should come as no surprise that our diet also has a direct impact on our fertility. 

When you are trying to get pregnant, there are foods you can eat to improve your fertility and to increase your egg quality, like liver, fish, and full-fat dairy products.  All of these foods contain high levels of vitamin A.  Sufficient Vitamin A levels play a significant factor in ensuring oocyte quality, ovarian response, and embryonic development .  Research indicates that eating foods containing high levels of omega-3s like fish, oysters, and flax seeds may be effective to preserve fertility and improve egg quality .   

The Fertility Diet

At CNY Fertility, we recommend eating a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates.  A high-fat, low-carb diet helps to improve overall fertility and egg quality in two main ways, (1) reducing inflammation and (2) balancing reproductive hormones.  Balanced reproductive hormones are essential to female fertility.  When hormones are unbalanced, a common symptom of PCOS, the ovaries don’t function properly, and eggs mature at a lesser rate and quality. 

Inflammation can cause tissue damage and reduce blow flow to the ovaries.  This impairs nutrient delivery and impairs egg development.  Proper nutrition and blood flow are essential to ensure that eggs develop normally and result in high-quality oocytes.  To reduce inflammation, we recommend limiting your carbohydrate intake.  When carbohydrates get broken down by the body, they turn into glucose, fructose, and other sugars that are known to cause inflammation.  

We recommend increasing your fat intake because fat is key to the development of every cell in the body .  Fat gives the body energy and supports cell growth.  Fat also helps to absorb nutrients and produce hormones.  Like everything else in our body, eggs are made up of cells.  Fat gives eggs the energy and nutrition they require to develop properly.  

For full information on the benefits of eating a high-fat and low carbohydrate diet, check out D. Kiltz’s Keto Cure Magazine!

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

When you are pregnant, most doctors recommend limiting caffeine consumption and restricting or completely eliminating alcohol.  It makes sense that you should avoid things that you would while pregnant while you are trying to get pregnant.  Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption has been shown to impair female fertility function in several ways .  

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Egg Quality after 40

When you are trying to prove your egg quality and chances of getting pregnant, it is important to focus on improving your overall health.  There are many simple changes you can make to your daily routines that will help you do so.  Most items in this section are intuitive and obvious, but that doesn’t make them any less important or impactful. 

Sleep

Obviously, quality sleep is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know it is directly related to egg quality and fertility?  While we sleep, our bodies repairs cell, restore energy and release hormones needed for reproductive and other processes.  Sleep allows our body to complete the necessary processes to support the development of high-quality and healthy eggs.  

At night, the pineal gland in our brain produces the hormone melatonin to promote sleep.  Melatonin is essential to maintain our body’s biological clock, and it also can improve egg quality.  Research has shown that melatonin is beneficial for reproductive function and is believed to facilitate oocyte quality, ovulation, embryo development

You can use many strategies to naturally increase your body’s melatonin production, like eating a healthy diet, managing stress, and cutting back on screen time.  Melatonin levels decrease with age, so it is especially important for women over 40 to ensure they are making choices that promote good sleep .  

Avoid Smoking

Smoking causes a laundry list of health problems and research shows it impairs egg quality and quantity.  Smoking increases egg loss in the ovaries and increases the number of abnormal eggs produced .  Chemicals in cigarettes cause DNA mutations in egg cells.  These mutated eggs are considered low quality, abnormal, and they are commonly unstable for conception.  

Manage Stress

Managing stress is much easier said than done, but low stress levels are associated with better health.  Stress is known to cause many imbalances and issues throughout the body related to fertility and egg quality.  When we are stressed, our bodies produce increased levels of cortisol and prolactin, which can decrease ovulation, hindering egg production .  

Research has shown that stress may be detrimental to oocyte quality and reproductive outcomes .

At CNY Fertility, we understand the importance of reducing stress for fertility and improving egg quality.  Unfortunately, fertility treatment can be a significant cause of stress, especially for women over 40.  As previously mentioned, fertility decreases with age, so older women commonly experience more difficulty getting pregnant.  As such, we have developed several programs at CNY to help reduce stress and provide support throughout your fertility journey.

Light Exercise/ Yoga

One of the best ways to improve your health is to get moving!  Light exercises like walking, stretching, and yoga are great ways to reduce stress, increase blood flow to your reproductive organs and balance the immune system.  As previously mentioned, a woman is born with all of the eggs she will ever have.  These eggs lie dormant in the ovaries until one month they mature, go through meiosis, and are ovulated.  Ovaries require nutritious blood flow to maintain a suitable environment for eggs to rest and eventually develop into high-quality oocytes.  

Supplements to Improve Egg Quality after 40

Fertility supplements can be used to improve the egg quality of women over 40.  Taking supplements is a great way to support a healthy diet and ensure overall and fertility health.  When choosing fertility supplements, look for products that contain the specific vitamins and nutrients listed below.  These nutrients have been shown to improve mitochondrial function, increase antioxidant levels, and support a healthy ovarian environment to improve egg quality.   

Fish Oil (Omega 3s)

As previously mentioned, omega 3s can help to preserve fertility and encourage the production of higher quality eggs, especially for women over 40 .  Getting appropriate levels of omega 3s can be extremely difficult from diet alone, especially if you don’t eat a lot of seafood.  Fish oil supplements are a great way to ensure adequate levels of omega 3s to preserve your fertility and improve egg quality.  

Research has shown that omega 3 supplementation is a practical and effective way to delay ovarian aging and improve oocyte quality at advanced maternal age.  Even short-term use of omega 3 supplements is associated with improved oocyte quality for women in their 40s .  

Co-Enzyme Q10 (Co q10)

Co-enzyme q10 levels within the body decrease as we age.  As such, it is important for women over the age of 40 to take Co q10 supplements when they’re trying to get pregnant.  Co q10 is a vital nutrient because it is the primary antioxidant that protects and supports mitochondria.  As co q10 levels decrease, so do the levels of energy mitochondria can produce.  

For high-quality eggs to develop, mitochondria need to function properly.  Mitochondria provide the energy needed for biochemical reactions like DNA replication.  If mitochondria can’t provide sufficient levels of energy to support DNA replication, then fewer high-quality eggs are produced.  

In addition, oocyte mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with reproductive aging.  The increase in DNA replication issues that occur as women get older may be caused by the age-related decline of the function of oocyte mitochondria.   

Research has shown that Co q10 supplementation can help to combat and reverse the age-related decline in oocyte quality by improving the mitochondrial function .  In short, Co Q10 helps to provide energy to cells and to promote improved egg quality.

DHEA (unless PCOS)

Studies show that taking DHEA supplements enhances female fertility by supporting ovarian health and improving egg quality.  Age-related effects on the ovaries are known to negatively impact egg quality.  Researchers have looked for ways to reduce the effects of aging on the ovaries for a long time.  DHEA is the supplement that has made the greatest impact. 

DHEA has been observed to improve the ovarian microenvironment, effectively increasing its functionality.  This causes the ovaries to produce better quality eggs .  Research has shown that DHEA supplementation can improve the number of eggs produced, their quality and the quality of resulting embryos

Fertility specialists recommend taking 25-75mg/day to improve egg quality.  You should not take DHEA if you have been diagnosed with or you are suspected of having PCOS.  Women with PCOS commonly experience increased levels of androgens (male hormones), and DHEA supplementation can further contribute to hormone imbalances.  

Vitamin A

As previously mentioned, vitamin A plays a significant role in ensuring oocyte quality.  Sufficient vitamin A levels are required for oocyte quality and also blastogenesis, an essential portion of embryo development .  Supplementing vitamin A can help women in their 40s to ensure they have appropriate levels to support healthy egg development.  

Other Vitamins and Nutrients for Egg Quality after 40

Vitamin E- Vitamin E has strong antioxidant effects.  It can reduce oxidative stress and increase follicular blood supply that is essential to the development of high-quality eggs .  

Zinc – Zinc and certain B vitamins have been shown to play a pivotal role in DNA synthesis, which is fundamental to the development of high-quality oocytes .  

Folate – Research shows adequate folate levels are important for oocyte quality, maturation, fertilization, and implantation .

The Supplements we Recommend to Improve Egg Quality after 40

At CNY Fertility,  we have formulated what other Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologists and we believe to be the best fertility supplements available, Molecular Fertility.  Our supplements are backed by peer-reviewed journals and clinical fertility care experience.  They contain all of the nutrients listed above and many more to improve egg quality and overall fertility. 

As women increase in age, their nutritional needs change.  Our supplements contain science-backed and lab-tested, premium ingredients that are especially important for women over 40.   

Check out Molecular Fertility’s full line of female fertility supplements!

In Conclusion

As you can see from this article, the best way to improve egg quality after 40 is by focusing on your overall health.  Taking fertility supplements, eating a healthy diet, incorporating yoga into your daily routine, and managing your stress levels will improve all of the bodily processes that support fertility and quality egg development.  

Don’t fret if you’re 40 and are just starting to think about having children!  More and more women are waiting until later in life to grow their families.  Fertility specialists are more knowledgeable than ever, and fertility treatments are available to increase your odds of conception.   

 

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