Supplements to Improve Egg Quality

There is so little in this delicate game of TTC that we actually have control of, so when there is something that can improve our outcomes, it makes sense to act on it.

There isn’t a whole lot of information on supplements that can improve egg quality, but of what is known, I have summarized here. Obviously, I am posting this in my role as a blogger dealing with fertility challenges, and not as a physician.

Since follicles are recruited from “storage” as early as 90 days from when they are ovulated, supplementation is best started three months prior to when your IVF/IUI/BD is happening. In fact, most studies testing the efficacy of supplements on egg quality have subjects taking them for 3 months before their procedures.

Now, obviously, this isn’t always possible, but I don’t think it is an all-or-nothing kind of thing. For example, last cycle, I was doing an FET, so for several weeks, I was not taking these supplements. But I figure that giving my eggs 45 days of quality-improving support will be better than nothing. So don’t sweat it. Do what you can. After your eggs have been retrieved/ovulated, you stop these supplements.

So here’s what I am taking for this round of IVF:

Ubiquinol– this is the more active form of the antioxidant CoQ10. Doses that I have seen suggested range from 200mg to 600mg, going higher if your base egg quality is worse. I am taking 400mg daily, split up 200mg in the AM and 200mg in the PM. Warning: ubiquinol is very expensive.

Myoinositol aka Inositol – this supplement used to belong to the family of B vitamins but because it can be made by the body, they nixed its status. There have been positive studies on the use of Myoinositol for improving egg quality. The dose that was studied was 4 grams or 4000mg per day. Myoinositol at much greater doses has also been shown to be as effective as SSRIs in the treatment of mood disorders. I have taken mine in capsule form, 2 grams in the AM, 2 grams in the PM. The store I buy it from ran out of the capsules, so I am currently taking the same dose in powder form. I just have to measure it myself now.

Melatonin – follicle/egg samples taken from people with good egg quality have eggs that are bathed in naturally greater melatonin concentrations than those from people with lower quality eggs. 3mg is the recommended dose, taken at bedtime, as it can help with sleep. Be careful taking this if you are hypothyroid. Melatonin down-regulates (slows down) thyroid function, and thyroid function is super important in TTC. For example, my TSH level before tak
ing melatonin was 0.84, and after taking melatonin daily for a month, my TSH went up to 1.15! So it really does make a significant difference. Since 1.15 is still under the TSH limit for TTC of 2, I’m not worrying about it too much. Especially since I will be stopping it after egg retrieval.

Omega 3 Fish Oils – help to decrease inflammation, which is important in egg development. Inflammatory cytokines can compromise egg quality, and inflammation in general is bad. I have not found any solid suggestions for dosing, but I take a total combined dose of 1800mg daily. 900 mg in the AM, 900 mg in the PM. I took the same dose even before TTC. It is important to buy good quality brands. Ascenta is a good brand.

DHEA – I don’t take it, but there is research that shows that it can help with egg quality if you are found to have low levels of it. If you do not have low levels of it, it can do more harm than good. Generally, people who tend to produce lots of follicles (PCOS types) should not take this. I am not sure of dosages recommended.

Now there are some other supplements that I have seen recommended by trustworthy sources, but without the randomized controlled trials to back them up, I wasn’t going to spend the money.

I also think that food can be both healing and harming. I have major digestive issues, and when I eat something that triggers my immune system, I get major inflammation. It is noticeable the next day- my tattoos become puffy like braille, the fluid in my joints accumulates and becomes so sore that I feel pressure when I close my hand into a fist. As a result, I am doing my best to stay away from my food sensitives- gluten, dairy, fructans, and polyols. It is so hard, as I love the flavour of garlic and onions, and veggies like broccoli and brusselsprouts. But everyone is different, so just be aware of your food sensitivities and stay away from things that harm your gut.

Too much exercise can also cause problems, as increasing your metabolism causes free radicals and oxidative stress to happen. This can damage DNA in the long term, and I think is part of the reason why female athletes who had an exercise history of greater than 4 years prior to TTC had poorer IVF success. But of course, this is pure speculation, and really, the damage is done. Most women who have a BMI over 30 can benefit from regular exercise. What I’m talking about here is over-exercising to the point of stressing out your body. Like what I have been doing since the 1990’s, and still did until a few days ago.

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got. I hope you find this helpful. Stay tuned to see if 45 days on these supplements made a difference on my egg quality for the upcoming IVF#2 (predicted for end of January, early February).

Fresh New Cycle and Fertility Clinic Frustrations

So yesterday I started my first period since the D&C. It took 26 days for it to begin, and so far it’s been pain-free.

Yesterday the bleeding was light, and today it has been heavy but without cramping. Most of my periods prior to TTC have been pain free, and it wasn’t until starting all of the fertility drugs that I started to have more painful periods. So, so far, this feels cleansing.
I am excited to see how my BBT looks for this upcoming cycle, because my post D&C BBT was wonky. I had some egg white cervical mucus for two days, which indicates that I maybe ovulated, but my luteal phase was only 6 days, and there was not a distinctive temperature shift. My body temperature was also really low, which was weird. This cycle has already started off 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer.

On the weekend we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with my in-laws at the cottage. We started the process of closing the cottage for the winter, bringing in the dock, clearing out the fridge. The whole family stayed overnight, and we got to spend a lot of time with our niece and nephew.

One afternoon, I was playing with our 8 year old niece, when she pulled out this book:

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I asked if she wanted to read it to me (to practice her reading out loud), but she didn’t. She wanted me to read it to her. I took a breath, braced myself, and started reading. She cuddled into me, and at one point, I started to well up with tears. The words seemed to hit a chord, and I thought that I could not continue. I took another deep breath, put on a smile, and continued on without her even noticing.

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That night, I couldn’t sleep. I started reading Ann-Marie MacDonald’s new book, Adult Onset, which really was not a good thing for me to begin, given that there are a lot of flashbacks to the main character’s mother’s multiple miscarriages/stillbirths. In bed, I started crying, then fully weeping, while DW pulled me into her chest. I didn’t sleep at all Thanksgiving night.

In other news, I’ve started the process of cleaning out our garden. The weather has been warmer than expected, so the soil is easier to work. Today, I pulled up all of our rainbow carrots, beets, and harvested some brussel sprouts.

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I roasted some with maple syrup, and they were delicious.

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Lastly, I wanted to share my frustration with our fertility clinic. I emailed my primary nurse almost two weeks ago about getting the immune blood panel done, then emailed her again a few days ago, and then called and left a voicemail today, and she still hasn’t gotten back to me. DWS emailed her at the same time two weeks ago, and she got a reply. I’m not sure why, but it seems like she is avoiding me. It is super frustrating for me because I’m anticipating my next cycle to be in about 4 weeks, and want the immune results to come back before we transfer the last embryo. Yes, we plan to transfer the last embryo probably sometime in December. I just want to rule out any issues with staying pregnant, so that we maximize our chances with this last embryo. I don’t know why our nurse won’t get back to me with a yes or no from the RE. It is super frustrating.

Anyways, new cycle, new beginnings.

Day Three Embryo Report

I think I have OHSS. In fact, I’m certain I have it. In the past twenty-four hours, I’ve gained nearly three pounds, and my abdomen has increased in circumference by at least 3 centimetres. My belly is taut and hard to the touch, and it hurts changing positions, going pee (and poo), and coughing. I imagine this is how it feels to be extremely pregnant.

In other news, I received an update from the embryologist!

Of our 14 fertilized embryos:
8 of the 10 ICSI-fertilized embryos are at the 6-8 cell stage
3 of the 4 IVF-fertilized embryos are beyond the 8 cell stage and are growing fast!

In total, we have 11 embryos still in the race, on their way to becoming morulas in the next 24 hours!

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