It Starts with the Egg: A Success Story
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Preparing for a healthy pregnancy
If you are beginning your journey to motherhood, start it with a book that has helped thousands of women like you understand everything they needed to know about reproductive health and pregnancy. It's called "It Starts with the Egg."
Let’s talk about the book, and hear from an Ovaterra community member who shares her "It Starts with the Egg" success story.
About "It Starts with the Egg"
“It Starts with the Egg” is a comprehensive guide to supporting egg quality, which is the foundation of women's reproductive health. Based on hundreds of research articles, the book is divided into three easy-to-digest, actionable parts:
- What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You
- How To Choose the Right Supplements
- The Bigger Picture
“It Starts with the Egg” was written by Rebecca Fett. Rebecca Fett is a best-selling author who shares essential information about prenatal supplements and fertility, especially for women 35 and above. She received her degree in molecular biochemistry from the University of Sydney, Australia. She has also received her law degree from Sydney Law School and NYU.
Rebecca went through fertility challenges at a young age, which ultimately pushed her to help others by sharing the knowledge she accumulated as she pored over hundreds of medical research articles to understand - and overcome - her own challenges.
Five essential takeaways from "It Starts With the Egg"
1) Avoid phthalates and other toxins when trying to conceive
It is important to ensure you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle when you start your journey to motherhood. Reducing exposure to certain phthalates and other fertility-toxic chemicals should be a part of your plan.
So, what are phthalates? Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in the production of plastics. These chemicals are found in many everyday products, such as shampoos, soaps, and even some types of flooring. We are also exposed to phthalates when eating or drinking foods that have been in contact with products containing these chemicals.
Though more research is needed, phthalates may negatively affect your reproductive health. Scientists know that some phthalates affect the reproductive systems in animals, so it may be a good idea to try to reduce your exposure.
Here are a handful of other toxins to avoid while #ttc and how you can be exposed:
- Pesticides (residue on foods, agricultural setting, in-home items)
- Bisphenol-A, or BPA (consumer product packaging, plastics, and food containers)
- Solvents (carpets, workplaces, food containers, and nail salons)
- Mercury (some fish)
- Lead (paint, car repair shops, and recycling)
- Perfluorochemicals or PFAS (contaminated water, food wrappers and various non-stick surfaces)
It is important to know when and where you are more at risk for exposure to these harmful toxins from many everyday products. Being mindful of what you put in or near your body can help maintain proper reproduction health.
2) Choose the right prenatal supplements
Choosing the prenatal supplements that meet the needs for your specific needs is essential in your pregnancy journey. These supplements should contain a few key ingredients to ensure your baby's proper growth and development. Here are a few essential nutrients you should look for in a prenatal vitamin.
Folate is the natural form of folic acid. Folate is an essential nutrient for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant. Folate has two main functions in the preconception and prenatal periods: to help with the development of the neural tube (which eventually becomes the baby’s brain and spine), and to help support the mom's body during ovulation and support egg health.
At least 800-1,000 mcg of methylated Folate (methylfolate) is recommended for the preconception and prenatal periods.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential vitamin that supports the growth and development of body tissue. When you think of Vitamin C, you probably think about your immune health. According to the National Library of Health, a study from 2005 showed that Vitamin C can help support the natural immune response of mom and baby.
Vitamin E is essential to support and maintain normal functions throughout the body. This vitamin has been associated with reproductive health ever since its discovery in the 1920s, because reproduction literally cannot happen without Vitamin E.
Rebecca recommends up to 200 IU of Vitamin E and 500-1,000 IU of Vitamin C.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in the growth and development of babies. Additionally, Vitamin D works with Calcium to maintain and support the growth of bones and teeth, for both the mom and the baby. It is important to ensure you get enough Vitamin D to maintain your body's functions, especially when pregnant.
A significant portion of women are low in Vitamin D. If you have signs of inadequate Vitamin D levels or know your levels are low, a Vitamin D3 supplement can be a useful tool in your #ttc arsenal.
It's a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked to know for sure. Your levels should be above 30 ng/mL, at a minimum. "It Starts with the Egg" recommends Vitamin D supplements that contain between 4,000 and 5,000 IU per day, especially when your levels are low.
Choline is an essential prenatal nutrient that supports the baby’s brain development. In that sense, Choline is similar to Folate. Furthermore, Choline is a part of a neurotransmitter that supports the functions of brain cells. The adequate intake for choline for women who are pregnant is 450 mg per day and 550 mg per day if breastfeeding. There are some studies that suggest an even higher amount of Choline may be beneficial.
3) Avoid supplements not supported by evidence
When trying to conceive, many women look into prenatal vitamins and other supplements to help support a healthy pregnancy.
“It Starts With the Egg” points out that some supplements - like royal jelly - do not have enough scientific evidence to support the claim that they can help with reproductive health and pregnancy. It's best to avoid herbs and supplements that don't have robust evidence, even if some may have been used for a long time in traditional communities.
4) Follow a fertility-supporting diet
While it is always a good idea to maintain a healthy diet, it is especially important when you decide to become pregnant. It can be difficult to get all of the prenatal nutrients from diet alone (that's why doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins), healthy diet is the foundation.
In general, Mediterranean diet has been shown to be one of the best healthy diets for both men and women trying to conceive. "It Starts with the Egg" agrees with a lot of the fertility-healthy diet advice. Here are a few guidelines:
It is important to consult your doctor or registered dietitian when considering adjusting your diet. Also, check out Rebecca Fett's Mediterranean-inspired fertility cookbook, if you need some quick, easy recipes to support your #ttc journey.
5) Don't neglect sperm: It plays a vital role, too
To help support good sperm quality, Rebecca recommends men to:
- Maximize the antioxidants in their diet with brightly colored fruits and vegetables
- Take a daily antioxidant supplement to round it out
- Reduce exposure to phthalates, BPA, and lead
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Keep cell phones out of pockets
- Avoid hot baths/showers the week before a sperm sample is collected
An "It Starts with the Egg" success story
Here is one It Starts with the Egg success story, from Ovaterra's community.
“I was 35 when I read Rebecca Fett’s 'It Starts with the Egg.' I was preparing to freeze my eggs. Being a type-A optimizer, I wanted to understand everything about egg quality so I could do everything possible to maximize my chance of success.
Starting with her book seemed like a no-brainer. After reading it, I did pretty much everything the book recommended:
- I cleaned up my diet and started taking CoQ10 in the ubiquinol form and prenatal vitamins.
- I swapped out laundry detergent, lotion, shampoo – really anything in the bathroom.
- I bought a water filter, glass food containers to replace plastic ones, and stainless steel pots and pans to replace nonstick ones. I was already using a stainless steel water bottle, but if I hadn’t, I’d have replaced plastic bottles with one as well.
- To determine which household items were safe, I downloaded the Healthy Living app that the Environmental Working Group created. It covers everything from foods to personal care products. I recommend the app to anyone on the journey, although their reproductive health list was a little on the sparse side.
After taking all the steps recommended in the ‘It Starts with the Egg’ book, I definitely felt different – better. Mentally, knowing that I was doing everything I could was affirming. I also felt that all my systems were in good shape, ready to fire.
I went through the egg freezing process a while later, and although my ovarian reserve wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I was able to freeze enough eggs to give me a good chance of having my own kids down the road.
The lifestyle changes I made based on the "It Starts with the Egg" recommendations are ones that I know I’ll keep for the rest of my life.
I really feel like the book helped me lay the groundwork for my lifelong health, going beyond reproductive health. I’m grateful for that.”
“It Starts With the Egg” by Rebecca Fett is full of science-driven but accessible information that can help you navigate your fertility journey, from preconception to nursing.
Whether you need support in maintaining a pregnancy-friendly diet or knowing what to avoid when pregnant, this book can help support your motherhood journey.
We recommend “It Starts With the Egg” to anyone who:
- Are planning to become pregnant in less than a year; definitely within 6 months
- Are actively trying to get pregnant, and it's taking longer than you expected
- Are 35 and above and trying to conceive
- Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle that's compatible with your reproductive goals
Please reach out if you have any questions after reading the book, or need additional guidance. We are with you.
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