It Starts with the Egg Book Summary - It Starts with the Egg Book explained in key points
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It Starts with the Egg summary

Rebecca Fett

How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF

4.5 (31 ratings)
19 mins
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    It Starts with the Egg
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    Egg quality is crucial for a successful pregnancy.

    Before we begin, a heads-up – for the sake of clarity, over the course of this Blink, we’ll be talking directly to a hypothetical person who wants to improve their egg quality. But if you’re a partner or potential donor parents following along as well, this information is equally relevant to you – so don’t go anywhere!

    Okay, let’s talk eggs. If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while, you’ll know that timing is crucial. You need to have sex in the fertile window around ovulation – only a few days every month – or your chances of conceiving are zero. Most fertility advice focuses on helping you identify and maximize that window.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to conception, the math isn’t always as simple as we’d like it to be. Sperm plus egg doesn’t necessarily equal baby. Once an egg is fertilized by a sperm it becomes an embryo. Roughly a third of fertilized embryos survive to become babies. Higher-quality eggs are more likely to survive past the embryo stage.

    So if you’re struggling to conceive, timing sex right is only part of the picture. Taking steps to optimize egg quality is equally, if not more, crucial.

    What do we mean by a high-quality egg? Well, it should have – quite literally – good genes. Before maturation, the egg is known as an oocyte, and it contains 46 chromosomes – long molecules that carry genetic information. Forty-six is kind of a magic number – every human cell contains 46 chromosomes. During meiosis – the name given to the egg’s maturation process – these 46 chromosomes consolidate into 23 chromosomes. The sperm supplies the other 23, to give your embryo its unique genetic makeup. The thing is, not every egg comes through meiosis with the correct number of chromosomes. Chromosomally abnormal eggs are known as aneuploid eggs. Even a perfectly healthy, fertile woman will have cycles that produce aneuploid eggs. These eggs usually fail to fertilize. If an aneuploid egg does fertilize, it usually doesn’t survive, and a miscarriage results. Forty-one percent of miscarriages are the result of chromosomal abnormalities.

    So, is it really possible to enhance egg quality? 

    A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce in her life – egg quantity is a fixed deal. And for a long time, scientists thought the same about egg quality. The conventional wisdom was that aneuploid eggs were the result of accumulated damage to the egg related to the aging process. In other words, as a woman gets older, her egg quality declines. It’s true that age impacts egg quality. But we’re now starting to understand that chromosomal damage is likely to occur during meiosis. Any errors that occur during this process can result in missing – or extra – chromosomes. Just what we don’t want. But the good news is that meiosis presents us with a window of opportunity, where we can actually influence egg quality. We can do this specifically by supporting the egg’s mitochondria. These are the cell structures that convert fuel sources into cellular energy – that’s the same cellular energy that powers the demanding process of meiosis. Supercharging the egg’s mitochondria means supporting meiosis and boosting your chances of producing a chromosomally normal egg. We’ll find out how to do that in the next section.

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    What is It Starts with the Egg about?

    It Starts with the Egg (2014) demystifies the science behind egg quality and how it impacts outcomes for fertility and pregnancy. In bringing together a range of reputable studies, it offers evidence-based advice on how to make simple lifestyle changes that will improve egg quality and optimize fertility.

    Who should read It Starts with the Egg?

    • Prospective parents thinking about trying for a baby
    • Couples who’ve been trying for months without a positive pregnancy test
    • Anyone facing fertility challenges

    About the Author

    Rebecca Fett is a qualified molecular biotechnologist and biochemist. As a biotechnology patent attorney, she gained deep expertise in collating and analyzing medical data. After undergoing IVF, she turned her expertise toward helping others understand the complex science of fertility.

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