Optimising Egg and Sperm Health
Optimising Egg Health
Women often worry about the number of eggs they have remaining (as indicated in the AMH/AFC tests), however, the key to achieving a successful pregnancy is not so much about the number of eggs but the quality of those eggs.
Egg -quality declines with age, and is a natural part of the ageing process, which makes achieving a pregnancy after age 35 more difficult. Not only are there fewer eggs, but older eggs can have a higher percentage of abnormal DNA.
Leading a healthy lifestyle helps to optimise egg-quality. At No.1 Fertility, our doctors recommend following a Mediterranean diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, oily fish and whole grains. We also recommend limiting the amount of saturated fats, sugar, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine in your diet.
Soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, tea (including green tea) and coffee all contain caffeine, which is linked with lower fertility and increased miscarriage when consumed in high amounts. We recommend limiting caffine to around 200mg a day – or around two cups of coffee.
There is no safe amount of alcohol to drink when pregnant or trying to conceive, so it is best to eliminate alcohol if you can.
Smoking can harm an egg’s DNA and should be avoided. We can help you with a quitting program to help support you.
Exposure to chemicals and toxins should also be limited when trying to conceive as these can act as hormone disrupters. You can swap microwaving in plastic for glass, and avoid heavy perfumes and cleaning products.
Vitamins play a huge role in egg health. Anyone trying to conceive or considering freezing their eggs should start taking a pregnancy vitamin or folate supplement. There are several other vitamins which our doctors recommend to improve egg quality which will be discussed with you at your appointment.
Regular exercise can also help to improve natural fertility by encouraging blood flow throughout the body and assist in maintaining a healthy weight, which is optimal for pregnancy.
Prioritising self-care and limiting stress is important during your fertility journey. Stress can produce hormones like prolactin and cortisol which can affect egg quality and production. Self-care activities which can decrease stress include meditation, acupuncture, yoga, spending time with pets and loved ones and prioritising sleep.
Optimising Sperm Quality
Male factor infertility accounts for approximately 40% of all cases of infertility. Whilst age doesn’t impact sperm in the same way as eggs, there is still a decline in the quality of sperm after the age of 45 years.
Common causes of male infertility are often easily diagnosed and can often be effectively managed through IVF treatment options. Lifestyle changes – like eating well, exercising and quitting smoking – can also improve sperm quality. The results of these changes can be seen in as little as 90 days.
To fertilise an egg, the sperm needs to be the right shape and have good motility so it can reach the egg. A healthy diet and lifestyle promotes healthy sperm. The Mediterranean diet which prioritises fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy oils and whole grains is the ideal diet for healthy sperm. Minimising sugar and highly processed foods is also beneficial. If drinking alcohol, it is best to stick to 1-2 standard drinks once or twice a week only.
Smoking and recreational drugs can damage the DNA of sperm and affect its shape and ability to reach the egg, so should be avoided. Exposure to chemicals and toxins should also be limited where possible.
Regular exercise is important to maintain a healthy body weight as being overweight can impact on the production of sperm. Excess body weight especially around the thighs can create warmth around the testes. An increased body temperature during acute viral illness can also affect sperm production.
There are several vitamins that can improve sperm quality. Your doctor will discuss this with you at your appointment.