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What can cause poor egg quality in women?

For women looking to conceive, egg quality is a critical factor influencing their chances of a successful pregnancy. While age is often the first concern, several other factors can play a significant role. Let’s explore the key culprits that can negatively impact egg quality and discuss potential strategies to optimise your reproductive health.

Oxidative Stress

Our bodies naturally produce free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage cells and their DNA. This process, called oxidative stress, occurs throughout our lives. However, excessive free radicals, often caused by external factors, can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses, leading to cellular damage.

Unfortunately, egg cells are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress. Damage to their DNA can lead to chromosomal abnormalities, impacting embryo development and potentially resulting in miscarriage or failed implantation.

Several lifestyle choices contribute to increased oxidative stress:

  • Smoking: Cigarettes release a significant amount of free radicals, directly harming egg quality. Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful ways to reduce oxidative stress and improve overall fertility.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol consumption disrupts the body’s ability to manage free radicals and can impair egg health. Moderation or abstinence is recommended for women trying to conceive.
  • Environmental Toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, and air pollution can also contribute to oxidative stress. Minimizing exposure through lifestyle choices and dietary adjustments can be beneficial.

Thyroid Health

The thyroid plays a vital role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism and hormone production.Studies have shown a strong link between impaired thyroid function and reduced egg quality. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can disrupt ovulation and hinder embryo development.

For women planning a pregnancy, getting a full thyroid function test is often recommended by fertility specialists. Ensuring adequate iodine intake through dietary sources like dairy products, seafood, eggs, and iodized salt is crucial, as iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function.


Unfortunately, we know that your fertility will begin to decline as you get older and this has a lot to do with the quality of the eggs you are producing. This doesn’t mean that we can’t get pregnant after a specific age, it does mean, however that we can be more aware of the effects ageing has on our eggs and work to undo some of these. Diets rich in antioxidants and antioxidants through supplementation can help to support the ageing process and assist in improving egg quality.

By understanding the factors affecting egg quality and taking steps to mitigate them, women can optimise their chances of a healthy pregnancy. Remember, a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management,plays a crucial role in promoting overall reproductive health. If you have any concerns about your egg quality, consult with your doctor or a fertility specialist for personalised advice and guidance.

Interested in learning more about the factors infulencing fertility in women? Visit our guide to the six foods to help boost female fertility.