How much do you know about the female egg? For starters it is nurtured inside the female body for around 120 days before it is able to be fertilised. Nutritionist Gaye Godkin takes us through the five key facts we all should know when trying for a baby.
Women are born with around 1-2 million follicles (immature eggs). This is their complete supply and they don’t make any more. At puberty the number of eggs has dropped by over half down to 400,000-500,000. With each menstrual cycle up to 1000 follicles begin getting ready for ovulation. Only 1 becomes mature enough to do so. The other 999 or so are lost, so once you start your regular menstrual cycles, you begin to lose eggs on a monthly basis.
DO EGGS AGE?
Because women are born with their full complement of eggs, naturally, they age with the ageing process of the female body. For example eggs aged 20 are fresher at 20 years of age than those at 30 and 40. The older the eggs, the higher the risk of chromosomal or genetic abnormalities occurring.
IS IT EVER TOO OLD?
The average age a woman gives birth to her 1st child in Ireland is now 32. Hence the increased rate of interventions and assistance in trying to conceive. Being older does pose potentially more risks, however embracing a healthy lifestyle and diet during pregnancy can prevent complications.
We are constantly bombarded about the healing properties of so-called super foods. There are many pseudo-science articles floating around on the web about the one food which will improve egg quality and contrary to many nutritional prophets promoting specific foods, it’s a little trickier than that. In reality there is no one food that will create the perfect egg. The environment is key and it is dependent on a number of factors.
Nutrients in food do have the ability to affect our genetic material. This is called our DNA or otherwise known as our blue print. Egg quality refers to whether an egg is genetically normal or has abnormalities. The primary cause of damage to an egg is the ageing process. Simply, egg quality declines with age. As women age, so too do the eggs. If they are bathed in a body that is exposed to excess alcohol, smoking, chemicals from fat cells, poor diet and stress, the egg quality starts to become affected. When the damage goes to a genetic level, it is not possible to reverse it. But not to worry! Thankfully, each month many follicles are produced and with natural selection a healthy body releases the best egg.
WHAT CHANGES CAN YOU MAKE?
Like most things in life, conception is a wonderful gift and in many ways human reproduction still remains a mystery. There are of course many changes that a woman can implement prior to considering becoming a mother. The earlier the better to get the vessel ready to carry the baby. Smoking is a well known cause of chromosomal damage to the volatile female egg. It decreases the egg quality, pollutes the internal environment and damages both DNA and cells. Frequent alcohol consumption has a negative effect on the ovaries, it depletes folate (an essential B vitamin for conception) and interferes with the absorption of iron and damages egg health.
Micronutrients all help in the egg’s development. Eating a healthy, balanced diet in conjunction with adopting positive lifestyle behaviours is the only known way to increase your chances of producing a healthy egg. Micro nutrients all help in the egg’s development. This is where Proceive may help by providing the extra support needed to support good pre-conception health.