The question “how many eggs do I have?” is one of the most frequently asked by patients during their initial informative consultation at Ovoclinic. To answer this, it is of utmost importance to go back to biological origins and understand how the passage of time exerts its effects on fertility.
After week 20 of pregnancy, a female foetus will have around 7 million eggs, but by birth this number is reduced to approximately 1 million. That is to say, that from her very first day of life, a woman already has all of the eggs that she will ever have.
In contrast, men generate sperm throughout their whole lives. As such, a healthy man can produce approximately 100 million viable sperm cells every day! However, only very few of those will try to fertilise an egg. Although women cannot create new eggs, they can look after the ones they have and maintain their quality.
WHAT IS THE OVARIAN RESERVE?
The ovarian reserve is the number of eggs that a women has at any given moment. The diminishing of the ovarian reserve is a natural process that happens throughout the various stages of a woman’s life. In her 20s and towards 30 years old, a woman reaches her maximum fertility potential, a stage which ends at around 50 years old approximately, with the menopause.
Oocyte quality is one of the key factors to achieve fertilisation, implantation and embryo development. As a woman ages, it is possible that the quality of her oocytes deteriorates. An optimal ovarian reserve is measured also by the morphology and the genetics of the egg.
To evaluate the ovarian reserve, it is necessary to visit an assisted reproduction centre for a series of tests. A transvaginal ultrasound is used to perform an antral follicle count (AFC) and the level of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) is measured from a blood test. The follicles are the small liquid filled sacs that contain the immature oocytes, while AMH is a hormone that is secreted by the eggs that are in the ovaries.
FOODS AND VITAMINS TO TRY TO IMPROVE OOCYTE QUALITY IN A NATURAL WAY
As we mentioned earlier, producing new eggs, and of quality, is an impossible mission, as a woman is born with a certain number of eggs. Strengthening the oocytes you have and trying to better their quality in a natural way is possible thanks to certain healthy practices, such as doing sports, and using powerful antioxidants like melatonin or co-enzyme Q10.
From Ovoclinic, we share with you some vitamins, supplements and foods that can help you to improve oocyte quality, whether you are trying to get pregnant naturally or if you are going to begin a cycle of IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
Vitamins for improving oocyte quality:
- Vitamin E. Better known as the fertilisation vitamin. It protects the egg cells and controls hormone changes.
- Omega 3 fatty acids. Help to regulate ovulation and can even delay aging of the ovaries.
- Vitamin D. Improves the quality of ovarian tissue and the endometrium (where the embryo will implant).
- Vitamin C. Reduces cellular damage in the body and increases the absorption of iron.
Foods to help you improve oocyte quality:
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce, lambs lettuce…) rich in calcium, folic acid and iron.
- Orange and yellow fruits (pineapple, pumpkin and squash, peaches, oranges…) are full of betacarotene, a substance that protects the outer layer of the egg.
- Avocado, a fruit that regulates reproductive hormones with a great content of natural stimulants to strengthen fertility. They have a high content of healthy fats and vitamin E.
- Pulses (lentils and beans), contain iron and fibre, necessary elements for a healthy diet.
- Olive oil, before eating or at breakfast, is an ideal helper for fertility and the correct functioning of the body.
- Nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) are rich in selenium and antioxidants, favouring the quality of oocytes.