Preparing for Pregnancy
Improving Egg Health for Pregnancy
Whether you’re beginning to think about pregnancy, or are currently trying to conceive, the health of your eggs (as well as the sperm) may be something you’re thinking about. The health of your eggs (also called oocytes) plays an essential role in fertility, and optimizing the quality of those eggs is important. As with almost everything to do with our bodies, there is not always an “easy fix” or a “one size fits all” to improving egg health. However, there are some important considerations and tips for improving egg health for pregnancy. Here are 7 tips for improving egg health for pregnancy:
7 Tips for Improving Egg Health for Pregnancy
1. Eat Enough
Not eating enough, or undernutrition, cannot support a healthy reproductive system. This includes the health of your eggs. Undernutrition means that you are not consuming enough nutrients to meet your daily needs. Talk to your Dietitian about your personal nutritional and calories needs.
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eat a balanced diet, with a focus on omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Sources of omega 3 fatty acids, include fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and omega-3 eggs (1). Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (2) come from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are important because they protect eggs from damage caused by oxidative stress. Click here to read more about foods that can help support fertility.
3. Limit Smoking, Caffeine and Alcohol
If you are planning on pregnancy or have been trying to conceive and currently smoke, do your best to quit. Smoking does not benefit yours or your baby’s health. As for caffeine and alcohol, there are no studies proving you should avoid it completely, so enjoy your cup of java in the AM and your glass of wine in the PM if this is what you enjoy (3). But, if you are concerned with the amounts of caffeine and alcohol you are consuming daily and are unsure how to limit your consumption, a Dietitian can help answer those questions and support you in changing those habits. Alcohol in excess can disrupt menstrual cycles which effects the health of your eggs (2).
4. Engage in Movement
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity movement each week, including aerobic (e.g., walking or biking) and resistance training (e.g., squats and bicep curls with dumbbells). You can also include yoga and stretching, or any other movement that brings you joy , increases your heart rate and reduces stress. Engaging in movement offers many benefits including physical fitness and improvements in mental health (4), which both play a role in the health of your eggs.
5. Manage Stress
This is easier said than done, especially when trying to conceive. BUT, stress is actually one of the largest factors disrupting the health of your eggs. Symptoms related to anxiety and depression can cause problems with eggs maturing properly (3). Too much stress is never a good thing, and strategies to help manage stress include movement, sleeping 7-8 hours each night, and eating a balanced diet!
6. Give Yourself Time
It takes time to de-stress, implement healthier habits, and get into a good sleep schedule. These habits that impact your egg health all take times, so give yourself, and your body, time to make these improvements.
7. Talk with Your Dietitian
Talk with your Dietitian, and doctor about any concerns. It is common for women to experience infertility because of another underlying factor such as Endometriosis or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) which are both known to reduce fertility (2). It is never too late to talk to your team of health care professionals for support and to request tests (such as blood tests) in case you have a nutritional deficiency or other medical concern that could be causing your eggs to be less optimal.
Final Notes from The Nest
Optimizing the health of your eggs is not an overnight fix, but rather a focus on healthier lifestyle choices to support not only your eggs, but your entire reproductive system , as well as your mind and body. Most importantly, reducing your stress levels, eating balanced meals with a variety of foods, and giving yourself time are essential tips to improving egg health for pregnancy. And don’t stress about nutrition – your Dietitian is here to help you understand the best food choices for YOU to optimize the health of your eggs!
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- Gaskins, A. J., & Chavarro, J. E. (2018). Diet and fertility: a review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 218(4), 379-389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2017.08.010
- Brown, E. J. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle (5th). Stamford (CT): Cengage Learning; 2014. 517p. (chapter 2)
- Silvestris, E., Lovero, D., & Palmirotta, R. (2019). Nutrition and Female Fertility: An Interdependent Correlation. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 10, 346. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2019.00346
- Mottola, M. F., Davenport, M. H., Ruchat, S. M., Davies, G. A., Poitras, V. J., Gray, C. E., Garcia, A. J., Barrowman, N., Adamo, K. B., Duggan, M., Baraket, R., Chilibeck, P., Fleming, K., Forte, M., Korolnek, J., Nagpal, T., Slater, L. G., Stirling, D., and Zehr, L. (2018). 2019 Canadian Guideline for Physical Activity Throughout Pregnancy. British Journal of Sports Medicine 52(21):1339-1346. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2018-100056