In recent years, egg freezing has caught on in popularity within Malaysia, with more and more single women opting for this procedure, as they prioritise career, educational, and lifestyle goals over starting a family in their youth.
Additionally, in neighbouring Singapore, it was recently announced that elective egg freezing for fertility preservation will be made available to both single and married women between 21 to 35 years old, from 2023 onwards.
Because the egg freezing procedure is so expensive and time-consuming, it would be wise and prudent for women to prepare their bodies and boost their fertility before starting the procedure, so as to attain best results with their hard-earned money.
Nevertheless, many career women often face severe time constraints due to their busy work schedule, and they often rush into an egg freezing cycle, immediately or shortly after being medically assessed to be fit to undergo the procedure.
Such haste does not necessarily yield best quality eggs that will ensure their future reproductive success. Instead, women would be well-advised to make extra efforts to prepare their bodies, so as to optimise their egg quality before starting an egg freezing cycle.
These efforts comprise three major focus areas, namely:
- Weight control, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
- Fertility diet and supplements.
- Alternative or complementary medicine,
Here, we will discuss each of these areas in turn.
Weight Control, Exercise, And Lifestyle Changes
Several clinical studies have proven without a doubt that a healthy body mass index (BMI) is key to optimal female fertility, with overweight or underweight patients having reduced chances of conceiving either naturally or through IVF.
Hence, exercise and weight control is crucial for ensuring optimal egg quality for freezing. Nevertheless, it must be noted that while moderate exercise boosts female fertility, high intensity exercise may actually be detrimental in reducing fertility and IVF success rates.
Hence, it would be a good idea to maintain a moderate level of physical activity while avoiding high intensity exercise for a few months, before starting an egg freezing cycle.
Additionally, for optimal egg quality, women should also avoid smoking and drinking for a few months before the egg freezing procedure.
Fertility Diet And Vitamin Supplements
A fertility diet rich in folic acid, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc is recommended to ensure optimal egg quality, before starting an egg freezing cycle.
These can be provided by lean proteins such as fish and poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains like quinoa and farro, as well as legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Additionally, whole-milk dairy products have been shown to enhance female fertility. Prospective egg freezing patients would be well-advised to avoid foods that are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats such as processed meat products.
Various commercially available fertility supplements are presently available on the market. These often combine various vitamins and dietary supplements into one package to enhance egg quality prior to IVF or egg freezing.
Vitamins and dietary supplements that are well-known to boost female fertility include:
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Complementary or alternative medicine may be useful for women with pertinent health problems that could reduce their chances of successful egg freezing, such as:
- Low ovarian reserve determined by blood serum levels of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and ultrasound scans.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) that often results in low-quality and immature eggs.
- Irregular menstrual cycles and aberrant hormone levels.
These would include traditional Chinese medicine-based herbal therapy and acupuncture.
Although the media has reported that many patients experience significant improvements in their fertility after undergoing such treatments, rigorous scientific and medical data are lacking in this field.
Hence, prospective patients would be well-advised to exercise caution and make an effort to gather more information, before deciding on such treatments.
In conclusion, it would be wise and prudent for women to make that extra effort and spend a bit more money to improve their chances of successful egg freezing, given that they are already going to invest so much money, time, and effort on the procedure.
Moreover, this would not only be beneficial for successful egg freezing, but can also enhance overall health, fitness and wellness.
After all, it is well-documented by medical studies that female fertility is closely correlated to good health. As the saying goes, a fertile woman is a healthy and fit woman.
Hence, it is definitely worthwhile putting that little extra money and effort, before embarking on the highly-expensive egg freezing procedure.
Dr Alexis Heng Boon Chin, originally from Singapore, is an associate professor of biomedical science at Peking University, China.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.