Egg freezing is becoming more and more popular with the early-30s crowd, and for good reason. Ovarian aging is inevitable, and many singles and couples are waiting longer to try to conceive than in decades past. This is making the lifetime reproductive window much smaller than in previous generations.
There are many reasons someone might want to freeze their eggs. Maybe you know you’d like to have kids in the future, but are currently focused on being a caretaker, starting or ramping up a career, completing courses, or finding your perfect partner.
There are medical reasons too. Chemotherapy, radiation, and some surgical procedures can cause egg damage, so if you’ve been told you may need to undergo these types of treatments, you have the option of preserving some of your eggs beforehand. Egg freezing is also typically recommended for those who are reproductively younger (think 20s and early 30s) but who have been diagnosed as having a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) or a limited amount of eggs remaining.
But egg freezing can be a taxing procedure, physically, mentally and financially. To help you get your best results possible, it’s a good idea to focus on improving your egg health and quality in the three to four months before your egg-retrieval procedure. That’s because it takes about 100 days for your little premature follicles (the sacs that hold eggs) to grow and develop into a mature egg.
Along with healthy lifestyle changes for fertility, you can improve your egg quality by ensuring they get adequate nutrient supplies and protection from damage.
Supplements for egg quality before freezing
Improving egg quality relies on getting all the key nutrients needed for follicle/egg growth, cell division, DNA replication and healthy hormone regulation. Meanwhile, antioxidants act as your egg bodyguards, protecting and neutralizing free radicals that could otherwise cause damage. Look to include these nutrients and antioxidants when prepping your eggs for freezing:
CoQ10 (CoEnzyme Q10)
Cell energy, called ATP, is produced in the mitochondria of your cells, which is where CoQ10 works its magic. CoQ10 is like a battery charger and bodyguard all in one. It has a major role in pumping out more ATP energy into your cells, while also scavenging and neutralizing the free radicals that cause damage.
Around the age of 30, the natural levels of mitochondria and ATP in the body start to decline, which make this power-producer a star for boosting those egg batteries.
In patients with DOR, taking 600 mg CoQ10 daily for two months before egg retrieval has been shown to increase the number of retrieved eggs. Pre-treatment also resulted in higher fertilization rates and higher quality embryos when those eggs were used in IVF cycles.
CoQ10 can also be used in those with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as a way of getting more eggs to mature. One study found that, for patients with PCOS, adding 180 mg of CoQ10 in the cycle prior to IVF procedures (many describe egg freezing as the first half of IVF, because both start with an egg retrieval) resulted in a greater number of mature-sized follicles and significantly greater ovulation rates (66 percent vs 15.5 percent in the control group).
How much CoQ10 should you take? Minimal amounts to help reproductive outcomes start around 200 mg per day, but many studies that look to improve egg maturation and quality recommend 600 mg daily (especially in those with DOR, poor egg quality and in aging eggs). Bird&Be’s The Powers for Females includes 200 mg of CoQ10, with the option to add the CoQ10 Boost capsule to your daily sachet for an extra 400 mg, giving you a total of 600 mg for that full battery boost and antioxidant support.
The proclaimed health-protecting effects of red wine are attributed to the antioxidant Resveratrol, which is found the skins of red grapes. But don’t be fooled: you’d have to drink roughly 60 to 1,000 liters of red wine per day(!) to get enough Resveratrol for its antiaging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Taking a Resveratrol supplement is a much more realistic game plan. Resveratrol helps slow ovarian aging by activating a protein called SIRT1 that protects your mitochondria, regulates cell division and DNA repair, and even helps prevent DNA damage. Resveratrol treatments have been shown to significantly benefit egg and embryo quality (that’s why we include 60 mg of Trans-Resveratrol in every sachet of The Powers for Females).
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is a powerful antioxidant that can protect your eggs during the egg-freezing process. It produces glutathione (another incredibly strong antioxidant) and supports cell growth. But what makes this little antioxidant so important for egg freezing is that it can actually protect eggs (and sperm for that matter) from freezing-induced damage. It helps preserve eggs during freezing, improving their viability, as well as the function of their mitochondria. You’ll find 500 mg of NAC in each daily dose of The Powers for Females.
As a well-known antioxidant in the cardiovascular system, Vitamin E is also a potent egg protector. Vitamin E’s claim to fame is that it protects against blood vessel damage and plaque build-up in the arteries of the body. This greatly affects proper blood flow throughout the body. In the ovaries, Vitamin E is found in the follicular fluid surrounding the egg. Having higher follicular fluid levels has been associated with enhanced egg maturation and better quality eggs. Supplementing with Vitamin E—get 25 IU per day with The Powers for Females—before an IVF cycle has been linked to a significantly greater number of mature, fertilization-ready eggs.
Fatty acids can be used by cells to make energy, but they need a shuttle to get them into the mitochondria where they get processed and turned into energy. Think of L-Carnitine as their shuttle service. This important antioxidant helps the mitochondria in ovarian follicles and eggs make more energy, all while scavenging and eliminating free radicals that can cause damage to these power centers. This is a big deal considering that almost all of an embryo’s mitochondria and energy comes from the egg!
L-Carnitine treatments have been shown to improve mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity, overall improving egg maturation, development, and quality. These actions are particularly important when freezing your eggs as sometimes eggs can be damaged during the freezing and/or thawing process. Antioxidants and mitochondrial helpers help prevent this damage, improving the integrity of the egg cell membranes.
These important antioxidants collectively have many roles in producing healthier, more viable eggs, so that they can later create strong embryos. Along with these goodies, it’s also important to get the basic vitamins and minerals that will support the function of ovarian hormones and overall egg production. Look for a prenatal with Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Calcium and Magnesium (you’ll get all of these in The Powers for Females) and take it daily for about three months before egg freezing. That way, you can have peace of mind that your eggs are getting all the support they need to be at their best before they’re retrieved, selected, and reserved for potential use down the road.