One of the more popular books regarding fertility today is Rebecca Fett’s, It Starts with the Egg, which takes an in depth look at the factors that affect egg quality. I happen to love books and documentaries that scare the crap out of you by revealing the secrets of the wasteland that we live in (sike! I hate them). This book definitely has that “live in an oxygen bubble and grow your own food and armpit hair” vibe, but I also took away a good amount of practical advice. If you’re going to read this book, I suggest reading it months before you start your IVF process. If you’re not going to read this book, here are some of my biggest take aways for your perusal:
#1. BPA is EVERYWHERE
I’m not exaggerating. It’s literally everywhere. Long gone is the pride I felt when purchasing my first “BPA free” water bottle (me to the REI cashier: “I’m like so eco-conscious right?!”). Little did I know, that I had been spending the majority of my day in contact with the toxin, AND it’s super disruptive to fertility and hormones. Here is a list of places BPA is hiding:
- Plastic in your kitchen – Tupperware, dishes and cups. If it’s plastic, just washing them in hot water can release the toxin into your food. I’ve switched to all glass Tupperware, and thrown out all plastic dishes.
- Thermal paper – this is the one that hit me the hardest! I handle paperwork and receipts printed on thermal paper EVERY SINGLE DAY at work. Needless to say, I’ve become a more dedicated hand washer. I’ve also concocted this conspiracy theory that CVS is trying to kill us (their receipts are basically just yard long BPA death rolls).
- Coffee Machines – through the plastic parts that scalding hot water travels through.
- Canned foods – weird right? Apparently, they treat the inside of the cans with a BPA-containing resin.
To be honest, this section freaked me out the most, but I can’t live in a bubble, and my husband hates armpit hair, so I’ve made reasonable changes in my household to limit our exposure. Full disclosure, Starbucks is still my number one lady, and an absence of almond milk cappuccinos is probably just as harmful to my mental health as the trace amounts of BPA is to my lady bits (so ya know, balance). Want some supplemental reading? Here’s an article from the Washington Post that talks about the ongoing presence of BPA in our lives:
#2. Nutrition Can Really Impact Egg Quality
This may seem to be an obvious point, however, I was functioning under the common misconception that since you’re born with all your eggs, every terrible tequila shot you took in college has had an irreversible effect on them. Turns out you can still increase the quality of your eggs! What a big PHEW that was. Here are a few recommendations that Fett makes to get those eggs back up to Grada AA quality:
- “switch to slowly digested carbohydrates instead of refined carbohydrates” (Fett, p. 183)
- “choose minimally processed whole grains such as quinoa, wild rice, beans, seeds, brown rice, and buckwheat” (Fett, p. 183)
- avoid anything made with flour
- avoid sugar as much as possible
- “The best plan is to limit your overall consumption of fruit to a few servings per day and choose fruits with a lower total amount of sugar and either a high-fiber content of a high antioxidant content such as apples, pears, and berries” (Fett, p. 199)
- avoid foods trans fat
#3. Supplements Are Confusing
Some are good and some are bad. Some are good for women doing IVF, but harmful for women conceiving naturally. Finding the right supplements for your individual case can be tricky, especially since there are hundreds of books and internet articles feeding you conflicting research. I choose my supplement cocktail based on recommendations from my fertility doctor and research from this book and online that I was comfortable with. My daily dosage is as follows:
- 1 – Rainbow Light Prenatal One – Food based multivitamin
- 1 – Nature Made Melatonin 3mg – apparently studies show that Melatonin acts as a protector against oxidative stress. Also good for making sleepies (scientific term). Not good if you’re trying to conceive naturally, as it may disrupt natural ovulation.
- 1 – Nature Made Vitamin D 2000IU – this was a recommendation from my fertility doctor, after my blood panel showed my vitamin D levels to be on the low side.
Other supplements Fett mentions include CoQ10, folate, B6, and a few other antioxidants. As it goes with favorite 90’s R&B bands, everybody’s different, so what’s right for me (Jodeci, always Jodeci) could be someone else’s 98 degrees (there’s always Dancing with the Stars, amirite Lachey Brothers?)
Should you read this book? Yes! Although some parts can be scary, I think it also creates hope that making lifestyle changes can really up the quality of your eggs.
Should you listen to Jodeci’s “Freek’N You” for old time’s sake? Also Yes!