Egg Quality: What You Need to Know

Pregnant woman holds her belly

Getty Images / Matthew Horwood

Your fertility is always changing, with a significant decline around age 35 and another measurable drop at 45. Over time, the ability to conceive can become more challenging, along with greater odds for complications. Research shows that as fertility is decreasing, the risk of miscarriage is increasing. In both instances, the quality of a person's eggs is a big piece of the puzzle.

“The lower the egg quality, the higher the rate of miscarriage and infertility. These are things that happen as women age. Your egg quality is determined by your age, genetics, and your environment,” explains fertility expert Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD, MPH, who is referred to by her patients as the “egg whisperer."

It's important to note that while there are things you can do to support egg health, there's no magic way to change the quality or makeup of your eggs. “It's not fair to mislead women into thinking that egg quality is in our control," Dr. Eyvazzadeh notes. "We can control the things we eat and how we [lead] a healthy lifestyle...but that may not mean your egg quality will get better."

As people understand more about their reproductive health, they can make informed choices that might improve their fertility and support their egg quality.

What Is Egg Quality?

The quality of a person's eggs determines whether they will have a viable pregnancy.

“Egg quality refers to the part of the embryo that comes from the ovary, which is the egg. The strength of the egg determines the strength of the embryo,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh explains.

Problems with egg quality can impact the ability of the fetus to grow and mature. “When there is an issue with egg quality, we often seen either no embryo development after fertilization, or a low number of embryos. Embryos that form may have an extra or missing chromosome, notes Dana McQueen, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at University of Chicago.

“When an embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes, that embryo will typically not lead to pregnancy, or could lead to a miscarriage,” she adds.

Up to 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. About half of the miscarriages that occur are due to an embryo, or a fertilized egg, having the wrong number of chromosomes.

Age and Egg Quality

There are several factors that can impact the health of a person's eggs. But the dominant factor is one that no one can control: age.

A person's egg quality will decline over time, along with the quantity of eggs available, as that number is shrinking every day since birth.

Dana McQueen, MD

In women who are over 40, less than 30% of embryos will be normal. This highlights the change in egg quality with age.

— Dana McQueen, MD

“We know that for women younger than 35, about 65% of embryos will be genetically normal. However, in women who are over 40, less than 30% of embryos will be normal. This highlights the change in egg quality with age," Dr. McQueen states.

Other Things That Can Affect Egg Quality

Environmental factors like pollution play a part in the quality of a person's eggs, and studies have shown that smoking has an impact on fertility. An increase in tobacco exposure is associated with a decrease in the number of embryos.

Health disorders can also harm egg quality. “Endometriosis is a fertility-threatening condition. An inflammatory state can be toxic for eggs, as it causes eggs to be less mature and less viable, increasing the likelihood of miscarriage, implantation issues, and infertility,” says Dr. Eyvazzadeh.

Even some drugs used to treat sickness can have a detrimental impact.

“Cancer treatments can cause the egg supply to become depleted. The term we use is 'gonadotoxic.' The drugs used in cancer treatment can cause early menopause as a result,” Dr. Eyvazzadeh notes.

Other factors that can impact egg quality include genetics and carrying the gene for early menopause. A person's own chromosomal abnormality can also cause problems, such as in Turner Syndrome, where there is an absence of ovarian function.

Ways to Support Egg Quality

There is no magical way to improve egg quality overnight. However; experts do offer some steps you can take to support stronger egg health.

Take CoQ10 Supplements

CoQ10 is a naturally occurring chemical found in the human body. It is an antioxidant that plays a role in metabolism, and has high levels in the heart, liver, and kidneys. CoQ10 can help reverse the signs of aging, and studies have shown the benefits of CoQ10 in supporting ovarian health.

Consume Acai Berry

A study conducted by a fertility clinic found that they were able to retrieve a greater number of healthy eggs from people who took this antioxidant supplement. The superfood is said to reduce stress and inflammation.

Add Melatonin to Your Nightly Regimen

Melatonin can help you get a good night’s sleep, but this antioxidant can also improve oocyte quality, which plays a role in embryo development. It was also found to increase the rate of success in IVF patients.

While none of the named methods can guarantee a certain outcome, studies have shown favorable results with egg quality when they were implemented.

Myths About Egg Quality

There are still plenty of misconceptions surrounding egg quality and fertility. A common myth is that birth control pills somehow hurt egg quality. Experts say this is not the case. In fact, birth control pills can sometimes help slow the progression of endometriosis. which, in turn, can help with fertility.

Many people have also been told that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition that causes enlarged ovaries, prevents the ability to get pregnant. It doesn’t.

“It is important for those with PCOS, [which] affects 15% of women, to know about their condition and how to treat it from an early age—not just when they are ready to get pregnant,” states Dr. Eyvazzadeh.

A final myth is that egg quality can actually be concretely changed; it can't, for two important reasons.

“Egg quality has everything to do with your genetics and your age and these things cannot be controlled or changed,” explains Dr. Eyvazzadeh.

You can’t counter the effects of Mother Nature. But you can do your best to make wise choices and take action that will help you understand and support your egg quality.

A Word From Verywell

Although there is not a scientific way to guarantee improved egg quality, there are steps you can take to support the health and viability of your eggs. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, continue to learn all you can about your fertility, and consult an expert or healthcare provider who can help you on your journey.  

14 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By LaKeisha Fleming
LaKeisha Fleming is a prolific writer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of formats, from film and television scripts, to magazines articles and digital content. She has written for CNN, Tyler Perry Studios, Motherly, Atlanta Parent Magazine, Fayette Woman Magazine, and numerous others. She is passionate about parenting and family, as well as destigmatizing mental health issues. Her book, There Is No Heartbeat: From Miscarriage to Depression to Hope, is authentic, transparent, and providing hope to many.Visit her website at