Suggestions To Improve Egg and Sperm Quality for IVF

April 26, 2024 11:31 am

Through the years, In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) has been an increasingly popular choice for couples who require help conceiving, especially couples in their late 30s onwards. The number of couples opting for IVF has risen in recent years, from about 5,500 in 2013 to over 7,700 in 20171. 

This upward trend is quite understandable. Among the known types of assisted reproductive technology, IVF is the most effective form with a success rate of between 40% – 50%. The success rate is further enhanced with frozen eggs and sperm, making this a common practice among many IVF clinicians.

 

What is In-Vitro Fertilisation?

IVF is an assisted reproductive technique where mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilised by sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg(s) is then transferred to the uterus. In Singapore, up to two fertilised eggs can be transferred at one time but the chances of conceiving twins are below 10%.

One full IVF cycle takes about 3 to 4 weeks, and it takes most couples an average of 2 to 3 cycles to successfully conceive. Each retrieval can produce multiple fertilised eggs enough for 2 to 3 transfers so if the first transfer is unsuccessful, the remaining eggs can be used for subsequent transfers.

IVF can be an expensive and expansive process, so, understandably, couples want to maximise their chances of success. 

While age is no doubt one of the critical factors that will contribute to your fertility success, many other factors, including your overall health, affect your chances of pregnancy – regardless of IVF or not. 

At Thrive, we firmly believe that self-care plays an important role in your fertility journey; being and feeling in tip-top condition can greatly enhance the quality of your eggs and sperm. 

 

How to boost egg quality in females 

Women are born with millions of egg cells, but most of them will not develop into one for ovulation. The one that becomes ovulated needs to be optimised to be the very best, healthiest cell possible. To improve your chances of conceiving, you should strive towards nurturing a better-quality egg. 

This process requires patience. The window for improving egg quality is two to four months before ovulation. This is the time when the follicle cells are preparing to divide to form the egg cell that will end up being ovulated.

Here are some common causes that lead to unhealthy eggs and simple ways to improve the quality of your eggs. 

Causes

Ways to improve

Age
  1. Regular exercise
  2. Take supplements
  3. Try to conceive at a younger age

Hormonal Imbalance

Take suitable supplements and/or medications

Anatomical Problem

To be surgically treated

Unhealthy Lifestyle

  1. Avoid smoking, alcohol, drugs
  2. Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
  3. Exercise regularly

Stress

Practice daily stress management through fertility yoga every day

Chemotherapy

Freeze the eggs before chemotherapy begins

Chromosome Abnormality

A 24-hour time-lapse monitoring system is able to detect abnormality early, to avoid transferring an abnormal embryo to the uterus

 

Illustration of Sperm-min

 

How to boost sperm quality in males 

A man’s sperm is as important as a woman’s egg. Globally, about 30% of infertility cases are due to the male factor2. 

The sperm quality in IVF takes into consideration three parameters: sperm count, mobility, and morphology:

  • Fertility is most likely if a single ejaculation contains at least 15 million sperm per millimetre. Too few sperm would mean fewer candidates available to fertilise the egg, making pregnancy a tall order.
  • To fertilise the egg, the sperm must travel through the female cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. Pregnancy is possible with at least 40% of the sperm in the ejaculation moving along.
  • A normal sperm should have a round head and a straight tail. 

Causes

Ways to improve

Unhealthy Lifestyle

  1. Avoid smoking, alcohol, drugs
  2. Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
  3. Exercise regularly

Chemotherapy

Freeze the sperm before chemotherapy begins

Medical Conditions

  1. Premature ejaculation due to physical or psychological factors
  2. Erectile dysfunction: inability to sustain an erection

Both conditions occur due to stress but can be medically treated.

Hormonal Disorder

Low testosterone can be treated medically

Genetic

  1. Obstructive Azoospermia
  2. Non-obstructive Azoospermia
  3. Chromosol abnormality

Genetic disorders cannot be treated

High Level of Sperm DNA Fragmentation

  1. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoid stress
  2. Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
  3. Take anti-oxidant supplements

Anatomical Problem

  1. Undescended testis 
  2. Varicocele can be treated by surgery
  3. Abnormally developed (small testis)

 

Taking the right steps towards your bundle of joy

IVF does not always have to be an intimidating, long, and arduous process. With the right steps taken on this journey, couples could be rewarded with a bundle of joy. With new technology, it is possible to identify healthy sperm and healthy eggs, but you should still do your part to maximise your chances.

Ladies, it is important to remember that there is no “anti-ageing treatment” for an egg. If you are young and know you want kids in future, consider freezing your eggs for use at a later stage. As we grow older, the quality and number of healthy eggs we have in our bodies will radically decrease, making pregnancy an increasing challenge as we age. 

Similarly, for men, the quality of your sperm is affected by several factors including your lifestyle, existing medical conditions, and genetic disorders. 

To enhance the quality of your eggs and sperm, stay focused on eliminating stress and living healthily and actively. You should also consider suitable supplements.

 

References 

  1. Number of Couples Undergoing In-Vitro Fertilisation Treatments in Past Five Years. Ministry of Health. (2021, March 4). Retrieved June 28, 2022, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/number-of-couples-undergoing-in-vitro-fertilisation-treatments-in-past-five-years
  2. Kumar, N., & Singh, A. K. (2015). Trends of male factor infertility, an important cause of infertility: A review of literature. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 8(4), 191–196. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-1208.170370  
  3. Chang, J. (2021, June 29). Now May Be The Perfect Time To Improve Your Egg Quality. Overlake Reproductive Health. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://fertileweb.com/now-may-be-the-perfect-time-to-improve-your-egg-quality/
  4. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, May 13). Healthy Sperm: Improving your fertility. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 23, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/fertility/art-20047584

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