Improving Egg Quality
It is possible to improve a woman’s egg quality. The most important factor in treating a woman with diminished ovarian reserve, the cause of poor egg quality, is a timely diagnosis. Ovarian Reserve (OR) will continue to decline with time, so the sooner diminished ovarian reserve is diagnosed, the sooner effective treatment can begin, and we will have a better chance of improving the quality (and quantity) of the patient’s eggs, ultimately resulting in better pregnancy chances. When it comes to improving egg quality, the therapeutic interventions must take place while the immature eggs are going through the maturation process in the ovaries. Traditional IVF focused on the last 2 weeks of the months-long journey eggs go through, but at that stage, egg quality is more or less determined. An effective treatment to improve egg quality must happen earlier. The image shows the length of time each stage of egg (follicle) maturation takes. The orange rectangle indicates the window where immature eggs can be treated for better-quality eggs for retrieval later in the cycle.
In 2004, CHR’s Dr. Norbert Gleicher and Dr. David H Barad introduced dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)(DHEA) supplementation as a form of innovative fertility treatment for women with diminished ovarian reserve that, since then, has demonstrated some remarkable results. In the last few years, DHEA supplementation has been accepted worldwide. DHEA (a mild male hormone that is converted to testosterone and estradiol in the body) has been shown to increase the quality and quantity of eggs by improving the ovarian environment where the eggs mature.
"DHEA, whose use was pioneered by CHR, has been shown to increase both egg quality and quantity."
Diminished ovarian reserve, which is characterized by abnormally low levels of androgens in the ovaries, typically result in poor quality eggs. Supplementation with DHEA raises the androgen levels in the ovaries, and this “restoration” of androgen levels in the ovaries appears to affect egg quality positively. The improvement in egg quality then leads to an improvement in embryo quality, increased IVF success rates, decreased miscarriage rates, and decreased chances for chromosomal abnormalitieschromosomal abnormalities in embryos.
CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) Supplementation
Recently, we have started using CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) supplementation in women with diminished ovarian reserve, in addition to DHEA, in order to improve egg quality. While DHEA works on growing eggs by providing an androgen-rich environment to mature in, CoQ10 is an important nutrient for the mitochondria, a small organelle that provides energy to cells--including eggs--in human body. CoQ10 levels, as well as the number of healthy mitochondria, decline as women age, and top researchers in this area, like CHR’s Dr. Vitaly A Kushnir, believe that the age-related decline in CoQ10 levels contribute to the age-related loss in egg quality.
There are many women who have been advised by other fertility centers that, because of their poor quality eggs, their only chance of conception was with egg donation. But by combining DHEA/CoQ10 supplementation with a customized IVF treatment plan, we’ve helped countless women improve their egg quality and successfully conceive without the use of donor eggs. In fact, about one third of women who did not have enough good-quality eggs to attempt pregnancies with their own eggs at other fertility centers have successfully conceived and delivered, using their own eggs, after treatment at CHR!
Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.
Last Updated: October 8, 2018