Since the season of Easter is upon us, I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss eggs. Unfortunately not the chocolate variety, but rather the ones that women carry around inside of them waiting for the day when they discover what they are actually for.
I promise that I will try to egg-splain as much as possible about why it’s important to have egg-cellent eggs and not make a yolk of everything. Ok, I’m all out of egg puns so on with the important stuff.
Throughout our IVF journey we have discovered that good eggs are pretty much the cornerstone of whether you will have a successful IVF cycle or not. Of course there are a lot of other factors that can play a part, especially depending on what type of infertility you have, however having multiple good quality eggs is really giving you the best possible chance of falling pregnant.
Early indicators weren’t all that encouraging for us; my first scan at the fertility clinic showed a lower than average number of follicles on my ovaries. The follicles are the sacks that contain the eggs, so by doing an internal ultrasound they can assess how many eggs your body is likely to produce under ordinary conditions before any manipulation takes place. Usually the norm is a minimum of 6 on each ovary, however I was showing only 5 or 6 total therefore only 2 or 3 per ovary. This was not ideal but meant that I would be put on the highest hormone protocol which I took to be a positive, as that would hopefully give my ovaries a big boost allowing them to go forth and multiply!
Upon leaving the clinic that first time however, I thereafter took it upon myself to research egg quality and what steps, if any, I could take to make my eggs the best they could be.
After some research I discovered the book ‘It Starts with the Egg’ by Rebecca Fett, a biochemist who specialises in genetics.
Out of all the IVF books I have read, this one was by far the best. A lot of books on the subject of IVF are based around people’s own journey’s, how they felt, what their outcome was etc, and that is great as it’s always comforting to feel that you’re not the only couple going through this. However, I also felt I wanted a book that allowed me to take action; that would give me physical changes I could make in my life that could directly have an impact on our IVF treatment. I found that this book did that in abundance.
The overall synopsis of the book is “How the science of Egg Quality can help you get pregnant naturally, prevent miscarriage and improve your odds in IVF”. The book talks, in a very detailed manner, about how egg quality can play a huge role in whether or not you become pregnant, stay pregnant and go onto have a healthy baby.
The book summarises; “The latest scientific research is changing the way we think about fertility. Egg quality is emerging as the single most important cause of age-related infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and failed IVF cycles….Whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through IVF, the quality of your eggs will have a powerful impact on how long it takes you to get pregnant and whether you face an increased risk of miscarriage. Based on a comprehensive investigation of a vast array of scientific research, this book reveals a ground-breaking new approach for improving egg quality and fertility”.
As with everything, there were elements of the book that didn’t apply to our situation, however I think it’s perfectly acceptable when using these books for your own purposes to skip over the areas you’re not interested in and just concentrate on the areas that do pertain to you. No one says you have to read the book from cover to cover, and in particular there were chapters on polycystic ovaries, miscarriage and diminished ovaries that thankfully are not subjects I have to deal with at the moment.
The chapters that did really stand out to me were as follows:
- Toxins in our every day lives that can affect egg quality;
- Multivitamins and supplements that can improve egg quality;
- Supplements that can do more harm than good; and
- The Egg Quality Diet.
I’ll talk about the supplements that I chose to take and the changes I made to my diet in Part Two of this post, however what was so interesting to me was reading about toxins that are all around us in our homes every day that can be extremely harmful to us, particularly to women who are trying to get pregnant.
The main toxin being BPA which stands for Bisphenol A and can be found in plastic food containers, paper receipts, CD’s, DVD’s, canned food and drink containers and worryingly, even some baby bottles and sippy cups.
Numerous scientific studies have been undertaken solely in regards to BPA and many large companies have played their part over the years in reducing the amount of BPA their products have exposure to, or at the very least they have indicated on their products whether there is any BPA existing.
Now as with everything, I know there are sometimes limitations to how many changes you can make in your life and I’m certainly not going to refuse if Dave asks me to pop a DVD in the player! However, I do believe that small changes can often make a larger overall impact so I’ve made sure to change all our plastic food containers to glass ones and I no longer drink juice out of cans or plastic bottles.
Another group of toxins the book discusses that could potentially hamper egg quality is phthalates, known in the US as “Chemical Enemy Number One”. These are commonly found in cleaning products, nail varnish, any kind of perfume or fragrance, vinyl and PVC. The EU now officially recognises phthalates as a toxin that is harmful to reproductive health and therefore the use of them have been banned in a number of cases, most recently in children’s toys. (It should be noted however that there are many other dangers to health that can result in over-exposure to phthalates).
As with BPA, many clinical studies have been carried out into the dangers of phthalates with regards to fertility, and they have been found time after time to “significantly interfere with the growth of ovarian follicles in eggs”. They have also been shown to “drastically interfere with egg development and the ability of eggs to fertilise”.
Once again, it’s almost impossible to eradicate everything toxic from your life and still actually live, however I have done my best by changing the following:
- I have changed all my cleaning products, washing powder, dishwasher tablets, handwash, bubble bath and shower gel to non-toxic products. I have recently discovered ‘Method’ cleaning products, which are amazing and best of all are entirely free from harmful chemicals, biodegradable, against animal cruelty and smell fantastic!
- I immediately stopped wearing nail varnish as this in particular has been proven to have a higher concentration of phthalates than any other cosmetic product. This was a hard one for me as I was never without nail varnish on my fingers and toes, however I have discovered I actually have lovely, strong nails so it’s not been a bad thing at all!
- I have stopped using hairspray or any other spray in my hair, opting instead for natural argan oil or coconut oil.
A lot of people may think I’m crazy for believing and implementing advice from a book; however nothing was too big that couldn’t easily be done, and when you want something as much as we want a baby, I would just about do anything to improve our odds.
There’s nothing to say that these changes will help in any way, however they can’t do any harm and it’s probably good practice to eliminate toxins from our life for our general health anyway.
For the most part however I feel good that at least I can do something to try and improve our chances instead of just sitting back and letting fate plays its hand. I have already had some evidence that these changes may have played a part in improving my egg health, which I will discuss in part two of this post.
In the meantime, I hope you all have an egg-squisite Easter 😉