It’s not just the quantity that decreases, however, the quality of the eggs also reduces, the older a woman gets. This is why trying to conceive becomes increasingly more difficult with age and the risk of having a child with conditions like Downs Syndrome also increases, due to an increase in chromosomal abnormalities. Miscarriages are also more common in older women with poor egg quality.

Fertility in women, starts to decline more rapidly after the age of 35.

What can cause egg quality to decrease?

Just as the rest of a woman’s body experiences signs of ageing, so too do her eggs, as they weaken with age. Other factors that increase the decline of egg quality are:

·      STDs, endometriosis or other conditions that lead to inflammation or scarring of the ovaries

·      Poor lifestyle choices, like smoking, drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs

·      A family history of early menopause

·      Cancer treatment, which is why some women receiving a cancer diagnosis before they have completed their family, choose to have their eggs frozen prior to treatment.

Which lifestyle changes can help to preserve egg quality?

Smoking, alcohol and drug use can all have a negative impact on egg quality. While it is not possible to improve egg quality, cutting these things out can help to reduce any further deterioration.  

Gentle to moderate exercise can also have a positive impact on fertility.

Your GP can advise you on any support available, if you need it, to help you to make these lifestyle changes.

How does diet help to preserve egg quality?

Making the following adaptations, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, may be beneficial for preserving egg quality and for ovulation:

·      Having antioxidants, like folate and zinc, can reduce the risk of damage to egg cells

·      Eating a larger breakfast and smaller evening meal, may help people with PCOS

·      Avoiding trans fats

·      Reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates, like sugary foods and drinks, white bread and white pasta. Replace them with unrefined, wholegrain foods.

·      Eat vegetable protein sources, rather than just animal proteins

·      Reducing caffeine

·      Avoiding alcohol

As with any lifestyle changes, it is wise to consult your doctor, before radically changing your diet.

Who might benefit from freezing their eggs?

·      People who are about to undergo cancer treatment, as freezing eggs will preserve their quality and save them from being damaged by the drugs.

·      Individuals who are transgender and intending to have their ovaries and uterus removed, may wish to freeze their eggs, so they can parent a child later, biologically linked to them, via a surrogate.

·      Someone who knows that they would love to have children in the future, but the conditions are not right for them at the present time, eg. financially, emotionally, relationship wise, etc, then they may decide to freeze their eggs, to increase their chances of conceiving later.

The eggs are harvested, then frozen and stored until needed.

Here at The IVF Network, we understand the challenges faced by people who are struggling with fertility issues and that everyone’s journey is different. We provide a wide range of information, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices, on your personal fertility journey.


‘Why does a woman’s egg quality decrease with age?’ 2021, Orchid Reproductive and Andrology Services