TCM has been used in the treatment of gynecological conditions for centuries. Egg health plays a central role in fertility. It is an indicator of a woman’s reproductive potential. Poor egg quality is on the rise in recent times and is responsible for a substantial percentage of infertility.
Egg Quality – why is it important for fertility?
An egg that is damaged or has a chromosomal abnormality is of inferior quality. An egg with abnormalities results in poor embryo quality which is often responsible for poor implantation and pregnancy outcomes. While undergoing IVF, a woman with inferior egg quality will have a poorer response to ovarian stimulation. Natural conception for a woman with poor egg quality can also be a challenge. If conception does happen, the risk of miscarriage is higher. It is important for women who are preparing to conceive, naturally or with assisted methods to support egg health. TCM techniques seek to create harmony, boost organ systems, and remove blockages. They are beneficial whether you are TTC naturally or via ART.
What causes Poor Egg Quality
Women are born with a finite number of follicles. At the onset of menstruation, a certain number of follicles containing eggs start developing rendering a woman fertile. As a woman gets older, the number and quality of eggs significantly diminish, significantly declining over the age of 35. Though age is the most common reason for infertility due to poor egg quality, it can be seen in younger women also. The factors that affect egg quality are:
- Age of the woman – natural progression as a woman ages the quality declines.
- PCOS – exposes the developing eggs to fluctuating unbalanced hormones.
- Endometriosis – scar tissue that can block the blood flow to the developing oocytes.
- Lifestyle factors – poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, smoking.
- Environmental factors – endocrine disrupting chemicals and toxins.
The Chinese Medicine Approach
As per TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), poor egg quality is seen as a deficiency of Kidney energy. Kidneys house essence that can be likened to DNA. Lack of kidney essence directly affects the genetic composition of the eggs. Kidney energy is what is responsible for healthy maturing gametes. When treating infertility due to poor egg quality, TCM focuses on strengthening the Kidney energy.
The lifecycle of egg development is 90 days. The quality of eggs depends on the genetic and cellular environment they are developing. One study has demonstrated that blood flow to the pelvic area reduces as we age causing egg quality to decline quickly. Regular acupuncture during the egg development stages increases blood flow to the uterus, ovaries, and pelvis.
Chinese medicine can also regulate hormones with acupuncture and herbs. In doing so the developing eggs are not exposed to fluctuating levels of reproductive hormones.
Acupuncture is usually combined with TCM herbal medicine for the best results. Chinese medicine pharmacology is extensive and is becoming more and more common to treat present-day gynecological conditions. It is only highly effective but also safe and noninvasive.
Foods to boost Egg Quality
There is no one diet to improve egg quality and fertility. Eating a balanced diet rich in a variety of nutrients is the approach.
- Antioxidant-rich foods – Rainbow of vegetables and fruits to neutralize free radicals.
- Whole grains and Legumes – Complex carbohydrates, high in fibre.
- Nuts and Seeds – Sunflower, chia and flax, walnuts, Brazil nuts.
- Fatty Fish – Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, and Tuna are packed with healthy Omega-3 fats.
A committed approach using TCM treatment strategies for improving egg quality can produce excellent results.