Egg quality and fertility – all you need to know
It takes a lot to create the miracle of a baby. One of the reasons is that the female reproductive system is a complex system, where many different factors can have an impact on the overall fertility of a woman. Particularly important, however, is the woman’s egg quality.
In this post we would like to explain what good egg quality means, give you an overview of how you can have the quality of your egg quality tested and what can affect the egg quality.
What is good egg quality?
Women are born with around 1 - 2 million follicles (premature eggs) and, unlike sperm cells, no new follicles are produced during a lifetime. Therefore, the quality of a woman’s eggs is essential for her fertility. The egg needs to be high-quality in order to develop into an embryo, implant in the uterus, and in the end result in a successful pregnancy.
Egg quality is defined by a lot of different factors, like the internal and external quality, or the number of chromosomes in an egg. A normal egg contains 23 chromosomes, which means that egg containing more or less than 23 chromosomes are abnormal.
The relationship between age, fertility, and egg quality
Women are born with millions of follicles, that holds the premature eggs. When they enter puberty, studies show that there are around 300.000 – 400.000 follicles left. Every menstrual cycle about 700 – 1.000 follicles start developing into eggs, but only 1 follicle is released during ovulation. This also means that a lot of follicles are lost every month, and by the age of 35 or 40 the number of follicles you have left are significantly reduced.
It is not only the number of eggs that is reduced, but also the quality of them. With age the egg cells become more unstable. One of the issues with unstable eggs is that the number of chromosomes can change. If the number of chromosomes in your egg is abnormal, it may lead to children with Downs Syndrome or other chromosome abnormalities. Because of this, pregnant women above the age of 35 are often offered prenatal diagnosis during their pregnancy.
How to determine egg quality?
In order to determine your egg quality, it is necessary to perform a blood test, and check your hormone levels, since certain hormones are related to your egg reserve and ovulation. Typically, you choose to be tested for one of the following hormone level tests will be used to determine your egg quality and fertility in general.
It is important to say that even if any of the tests mentioned below shows a high volume of the hormone tested for, you may still be able to obtain a pregnancy naturally. The tests you can take to test your fertility and egg quality is:
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone Test (FSH)
- Estradiol Test (E2)
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH)
If the outcome of the test is negative, and you need to use donor eggs to become pregnant, we can recommend you read our page on how to get started with donor eggs.
How to improve your egg quality
As we already mentioned, age is the most defining factor in determining women’s fertility and egg quality, but there are some other things you can do that might have a positive effect on your fertility and improve your chances of conceiving a child. If you want to improve your fertility, studies show that you need to stay away from substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and excess amounts of caffeine.
It is also recommended that you maintain a healthy diet combined with a moderate amount of exercise. Through a healthy diet and regular exercise, you will be able to improve your overall health and menstrual regularity. It is also recommended if you are about to enter fertility treatment, since fertility treatment is not recommended for women with a BMI above 30.
If you want to read more about how to improve your egg quality, follow the link to our blog post. You can also read a testimonial from Katie, who was conceived with the help of an egg donor.