Quality Matters: All About Egg and Ovulation Quality
When trying to conceive, you want both parts of the equation - sperm and egg - to be healthy, to give you the best chance at conception. Men can test their sperm quality with a semen analysis, but unfortunately egg quality is pretty difficult to determine without expensive and invasive procedures. But there are still simple things you can do now to help increase your chances of conception!
What is egg quality?
Egg quality refers to whether or not an egg is chromosomally (or genetically) normal. Thinking back to your high school biology class, you may remember that both an egg and sperm each need 23 chromosomes to create a healthy embryo - when this happens, an egg is considered euploid, or chromosomally normal. If an egg has more or less than 23 chromosomes, it is considered aneuploid, or abnormal.
The quality of an egg is determined months before it’s released during ovulation. Eggs get their chromosomes in a cell division process called meiosis. This is when chromosomes are divided between eggs. If something goes wrong during this process and an egg gets one too many or one too few chromosomes, the egg is considered abnormal.
But this does not mean that if you have one abnormal egg that all other eggs are abnormal. Women have a mix of normal and abnormal eggs, and either can be released during ovulation, although the body does have checks in place to try to release the highest quality eggs. If an abnormal egg is fertilized, it usually fails to implant into the uterus or will result in miscarriage later on. Rarely an abnormal embryo will survive pregnancy, which is most commonly seen in babies born with Down Syndrome.
How do I measure egg quality?
Egg quality - the genetic makeup of an egg - cannot be measured through any hormone based test. The only way to test the genetic quality of an egg is to fertilize it, then run a genetic test on the embryo. This is something that couples undergoing IVF can choose to do, but it’s unrealistic for a couple trying to get pregnant without IVF, as it is difficult and can be expensive.
How can I improve egg quality?
Since egg quality is determined by the genetic makeup, there is no specific way to improve egg quality once it is formed. And it is important to note that egg quality typically does decline with age. Data from Extend Fertility shows only 40% of the embryos are genetically normal in 40 year old women.
However, some doctors have suggested that living a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy, exercising, not smoking, etc.) can help improve chances of proper cell division and thus genetically normal eggs. Some also recommend the supplement CoQ10 to help give egg quality a boost.
Getting older is unfortunately inevitable, and as women age, we increase the percentage of our eggs becoming abnormal. According to Chief Clinical Officer at Extend Fertility and Proov medical advisor, Dr. Joshua Klein, MD says "at age 25, since approximately 90% of eggs are healthy, a woman ovulates a healthy egg 9 of every 10 months, on average. At age 45, the opposite is true, where 9 of every 10 months a woman ovulates an unhealthy egg, which is why it is considered harder to conceive."
All that said, there are other things you can do to improve the chances of successfully conceiving. How? By ensuring your ovulation is high quality!
What is ovulation quality?
Ovulation is considered “high quality” when it is successful. Successful ovulation occurs when an egg is released and the empty follicle produces enough progesterone for a long enough period of time to support an embryo, should an egg be fertilized. Progesterone prepares the uterine lining for implantation, ensuring the embryo has a healthy environment where it can thrive. Without enough progesterone, a healthy egg doesn’t have a good chance of thriving, even if it does meet up with sperm to form an embryo. Some doctors classify ovulation quality not only as successful but also as “weak” or “strong”, or “sufficient” or “insufficient” These classifications are often a function of the amount of progesterone released after ovulation.
How can I confirm successful ovulation?
Confirming successful ovulation has never been so easy with Proov! Proov is the first and only at home, FDA cleared PdG test kit. PdG is the urine metabolite of progesterone and only rises when progesterone is also elevated. Testing PdG levels in urine with Proov, days 7-10 after suspected ovulation will confirm that successful ovulation has occurred, giving your healthy eggs the best chance at successful conception!
Have any questions about successful ovulation? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org!