The term ‘poor egg quality’ is disempowering to our patients. Patients are often told the reason they cannot conceive is due to poor egg quality and they come into our offices desperate to address this, feeling helpless that there is nothing that can be done to support them.
We submit that the term ‘egg quality’ is reductionist and dehumanizing. Our philosophy to restorative fertility language is that it must be respectful, reflect the true physiology of human reproduction, and never lose sight of the humanity of a couple’s fertility journey.
At Fertility Continuing Education we want to use the clearest language in all of our teachings. A woman is not just an oocyte or an egg; a man is not just a sperm. Human reproduction requires a multitude of factors. A woman’s healthy ova is surrounded by a healthy follicle, is influenced by a healthy level of hormones and is bathed in follicular fluid, which we call White Flow. To just focus on the singular component of an oocyte excludes the many other nuances of reproduction.
Using the term ‘egg quality’ and ‘ovarian failure’ can incite feelings of extreme stress and trauma in patients that have undergone lengthy fertility treatments. It’s important for clinicians to become more sensitive to this and instead, use the more intentional language of improving human follicular function and human oocyte maturation. We have a responsibility to deliver care in the most humane way.
What gets ignored in this conversation about egg and sperm quality, is that an embryo is conceived in a woman’s fallopian tube, which is also bathed in fluid, or White Flow. The health of this fluid, (seminal fluid, cervical fluid and follicular fluid) which is rich in sugars, minerals and proteins, requires that we expand the way we think about fertility to include whole-body health.
By charting White Flow days, the patient gets a real-time, immediate indication of her follicular health and can physically feel her egg health in action. White Flow is so critical to human reproduction that we feel it’s important to stress the concept of White Flow Makes Babies™.
There are also many other factors that can contribute to follicular health such as hormone levels, inflammation, poor diet and stress, many of which are modifiable and thus very empowering for the patient. Health is then brought back to her body.
If you type in ‘egg quality’ in PubMed, you will get over 10,000 entries which cover every mammal on the planet. What gets lost is the human dimension. Much of the research on egg quality is done on animals and this data is then extrapolated to human reproduction. At FertilityCE, in order to deliver you the best evidence-based information, our research includes: maternal serum vitamin levels, human ovarian follicular function, human oocyte maturation and human ovulation. We feel these terms are more respectful, less reductionist, and less judgmental.
In our next post, we will begin to discuss the role of nutrients such as Vitamin D in Follicular Health and human ovulation.