Do you feel like your biological clock is ticking? You are definitely not alone! Many women start to feel the pressure of their biological clock as they age. The term biological clock often refers to the “increased maternal instincts of (particularly) women as they get older.” This feeling often starts when the perceived window of opportunity to conceive reduces. Even though it may be scary to think about missing the optimal time of trying to conceive, there are things you can do to support your body and the quality of the egg it produces each month!
Each month, the body prepares itself to potentially conceive. A follicle from the ovary will become dominant and eventually the egg will be released at the time of ovulation. Even though an egg is released each month, this egg needs to be of good quality!
Let’s take a look at the factors that can impact egg quality.
1) Age: We know that as we age fertility eventually declines. And even though most of us would ideally like to turn back the clock, we know it is not possible! However, we can work to undo some of the effects that come along with the aging process. Especially, mitigating the effects of aging on the eggs we produce. By using antioxidants through supplementation, eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables and using botanical medicine to balance hormones, all of these can help to support the aging process.
2) Oxidative stress: Oxidation in the body is part of the aging process. Think of when you bite into an apple and the inside starts to turn brown if you leave it to sit out. This is oxidation. Just like the apple, our cells can start to “rust” due to oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress can prevent our cells and tissues from functioning properly. There are many factors that can contribute to oxidative stress such as emotional stress, smoking, consuming alcohol, exposure to toxins, etc. Additionally, a study done on mice found that insulin resistance (a common feature in PCOS) contributes to oxidative stress. So, addressing blood sugar dysregulation through diet, botanical medicine and supplementation is key!
3) Thyroid health: The health of your thyroid is extremely important in terms of fertility management. I often suggest getting a full thyroid panel with Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T3, T4 and Anti-Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO). A study done to assess thyroid function and embryo quality found that women with high normal TSH levels or high TSH levels had impaired embryo quality. Additionally, if their TSH levels were fine but they had the presence of Anti-TPO, which is an autoimmune marker, their embryo quality was negatively impacted. Thyroid health can be treated using medication (ie. Synthroid), Natural Desiccated Thyroid, botanical support and key minerals such as iodine, selenium and zinc.
Ou, X., Li, S., Wang, Z., Li, M., Quan, S., Xing, F., Guo, L., Chao, S., Chen, Z., Liang, X., Hou, Y., Schatten, H. and Sun, Q. (2012). Maternal insulin resistance causes oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in mouse oocytes. Human Reproduction, [online] 27(7), pp.2130-2145. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22556376 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].
Weghofer, A., Himaya, E., Kushnir, V., Barad, D. and Gleicher, N. (2015). The impact of thyroid function and thyroid autoimmunity on embryo quality in women with low functional ovarian reserve: a case-control study. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, [online] 13(1). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25975563 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].
By Samina Mitha, www.saminamitha.com