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TTC Self Help book club: It Starts With the Egg / Is your Body Baby Friendly?

(21 Posts)
Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 09:37:13

Hello ladies,
Following chats in other threads, where a number of us are reading the same books, I thought this thread could be a sort of online book club, to share and discuss two books that offer some well-supported advice for conception and a successful pregnancy, and to offer each other support on our journeys:

'It Starts with the Egg' - How the Science of Egg Quality can help you get pregnant and prevent miscarriage - Rebecca Fett

'Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF Failure, Explained - Alan B(and eer

Perhaps like me you have suffered recurrent miscarriage, and/or you feel age may not be on your side when it comes to making babies. Or perhaps you have been TTC for some time and you're wondering what you can do to help. You might even be just starting out and wanting to give yourself the best possible chance.

Having scanned the internet for answers and flicked through these books, it's clearly evidenced that there lots we can do to get our bodies, our eggs (and our partners) in optimum health for a successful pregnancy.

It would be great to hear from those who have read / are reading the books and any success stories from people who have implemented the advice...

What are your thoughts, take aways and top tips?

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 09:38:17

Here are the book covers:

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 09:53:31

Here's a review of It Starts with the Egg that i found on Amazon, which sums it up better than I can. Key point is that there's lots we can do in the 3-4 months before conception to improve egg quality - there's still hope as your eggs don't age in the way many people think:

"This is the best fertility book in the market. A very well researched, informative book. This lady is an inspiration for anybody who has been told their egg quality is poor. Rebecca tells you exactly what to eat, what supplements to take and time frames to improve your egg quality. I followed the fertility plan in her book and became pregnant within a couple of months. I am 40 and I was told my egg quality was very poor. I have just finished an ivf cycle with 5 good quality embryos. I am now pregnant. Incredible. Please buy this book!"

Joeypotter1 Tue 17-May-16 14:17:44

Hello Dixxie. Just to let you know I've joined your thread and will hopefully be able to join in with any discussions when my book (It starts with the egg) arrives next week. X

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 16:09:22

Hi Joey, welcome...

bananafish81 Tue 17-May-16 17:40:55

I followed the advice in 'it starts with the egg' regarding supplements and saw an overwhelming difference in egg and embryo quality between my first and second cycles.

The embryologists were all asking if my AMH could have been a lab error because my response was so good

After my recent miscarriage I had immunes testing done - I had the tests with an Athens lab whose immunes tests are identical to the Chicagos, except that they use intralipids instead of IVIG for the NK cells cytotoxicity assay - for a third of the price of the Chicago tests. My Dr prescribes empirically for immunes anyway so the testing was more for my own peace of mind to understand if they were any massive red flags on the immunes front that may have been the root cause of the miscarriage. The Alan Beer book was absolutely essential in helping me to really understand the various test results, found it incredibly helpful

Cannot recommend them both enough!

bananafish81 Tue 17-May-16 17:50:17

I skipped over the chapters in 'it starts with the egg' about plastics, household cleaners, cosmetics etc. I decided I had to draw a line somewhere and that my IVF cycle wouldn't rest on what kind of saucepan I used or whether I had nail polish on my toes or not!

I did follow the supplements advice to the letter, for women with diminished ovarian reserve

In particular, DHEA, ubiquinol, resveratrol, melatonin, high dose vitamin D, C and E, along with the regular prenatal & fish oil supplements

First cycle I'd been on the supplements only 6 weeks and had rubbish eggs - 7 retrieved, 6 mature, 4 fertilised, but all the embryos conked out after day 3 and nothing made it to blast

Second cycle I'd been on everything for over 4 months. Same protocol, same drugs. Retrieved 17 eggs, all mature, 12 fertilised, 7 made it to blast of which one was transferred and 4 were good enough to freeze

Got a BFP - v sadly miscarried but the tissue testing showed the foetus was chromosomally normal ie the miscarriage wasn't due to embryo quality

No idea if correlation equals causation, and consultant said the cumulative effect of the stims created a more oestrogenic ovarian environment and higher egg quality in the second round - but said absolutely possible the supplements may have played a role too

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 19:06:47

Hi Bananafish, welcome to the group and I'm so sorry for your loss.

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience. So on the positives, you saw a marked improvement in egg quality that may well be attributed to the supplements, which is brilliant.

And what I'm also hearing is that that's only one part of the equation, for those of us (me included) who've suffered multiple miscarriage. So I feel afraid of relying on egg quality alone.

Has anyone read the second book yet, will we learn more about what causes miscarriage and what we can do to mitigate the risk?

Tempted also to throw in a third book, 'Miscarriage - What Every Woman Needs to Know' by Prof Regan at St Mary's? I haven't been able to face that one yet but if anyone has read it or wants to share insights, please go ahead...

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 19:08:58

rider1975 Tue 17-May-16 19:14:20

Hello - I've also joined the book thread. Will pop into Waterstones this weekend. I got pg the first time on both MCs so not sure if I fit the bill but hey I'm open to anything for third time lucky esp given some of your accounts here

bananafish81 Tue 17-May-16 19:29:08

Prof Regan and Alan Beer are diametrically opposed when it comes to mc

Much of the Alan Beer book is basically a head to head debate with Prof Regan's dismissal of immunes for the official RCOG guidance

Unfortunately I know several women who went to Prof Regan's RMC, were told they were just unlucky, miscarried AGAIN (three times in 12 months for two friends) and only when they went private and got immunes testing and treatment did they (so far) manage to stay pregnant

For me the likely answer to my miscarriage was the quality of the endometrium. The research by Prof Quenby and Brosens is pretty enlightening

We're doing IVF with PGS at the moment to ensure we only put back a chromosomally normal embryo - that's the seed bit of the equation

We won't however be doing a transfer for a few months - as my consultant wants to really work on optimising the uterine environment before we put anything back - that's the soil bit of the equation.

Most miscarriages are due to the seed

However recurrent miscarriage - and those like mine which were a first loss but where tissue testing showed the baby was chromosomally normal - is generally due to the soil, which can be a multitude of factors

Dixxie Tue 17-May-16 19:50:14

Hi Rider, really glad you've joined. smileLike you I don't find it hard to conceive but as Bananafish says, if the eggs aren't chromosomally normal it can end in miscarriage. I guess our question is similar to Bananafish- is it the egg or the environment... The books seem to cover both parts I think, and learnings and insights from other sources are welcome.

Bananafish that's not the first time I've heard less positive things about Prof Regan. The only NHS consultant who goes down the immunity / NK killer cells route seems to be Prof Quenby at Coventry? I'm needing to make a choice about seeing her or going private, or both. If I go private do I forego my right to NHS help (sorry to sound so naive)?

I suspect my body is having some kind of immune reaction, because I get sick and feverish and agonising pain each month but every test (Endo etc) is clear. Last week when I started miscarrying it was the same x 3 and I ended up in hospital screaming for pain relief. So is my body attacking the pregnancy? (I have made this explanation up myself BTW so I may be way off...)

Would love to hear more about what you've been told you can do to improve endometrial health?

Dixxie Wed 18-May-16 08:15:01

Hi ladies,

The Egg book starts by explaining the dangers of BPA, commonly used in plastics, eg. Bottles and food containers, paper receipts. It's priority at the start of the book suggests we should take it fairly seriously.

The latest research shows that even minuscule amounts can interfere with hormonal systems and harm developing eggs, affecting IVF success rates and increasing miscarriage risk. This is especially important for PCOS, recurrent miscarriage or failed IVF cycles.

...all very well but as I said to Rider in a PM, here I am washing Tupperware in a plastic washing up bowl,wearing rubber gloves, then I pick up my plastic phone cover, type on a plastic keyboard on a table with a PVC cloth on it, and driving 2.5 hours a day in my car surrounded by plastic... But there are practical things we can do:

Our goal should be to get levels in our system well below average.

To reduce exposure:

- avoid canned goods (most are lined with BPA) unless labelled BPA-free

- replace plastic containers in kitchen with glass, plastic utensils with metal/wood

- take care when using plastic (even if BPA-free as it will contain other chemicals): wash it by hand and not too hot / don't use it in the microwave or with hot food or drink

- Handle paper receipts as little as possible and wash hands afterwards

- get rid of non-stick pans, trays etc.

...For us, we're moving to SIGG lunch boxes and water bottles, SIGG / Pyrex / glass food containers, wooden chopping boards, wooden/metal utensils and replacing the non stick wok and frying pan with ceramic from TK Maxx/Homesense (good value).

Will you make any changes or is it just too difficult?

Dixxie Wed 18-May-16 21:15:36

Blimey trying to read the other book, Is your Body Baby Friendly... It's really heavy!!! Lots of scientific info about different immune problems causing miscarriage but I haven't found anything I can actually TK to help myself except finding ££££ to see a private consultant and have lots of tests...

bananafish81 Thu 19-May-16 14:55:33

dixxie I haven't been to see Prof Quenby but AFAIK you can self refer for about £400 and it shouldn't affect your right to any NHS investigations with a RMC. The standard recurrent miscarriage investigations will be for thyroid issues and clotting disorders. Prof Quenby and Brosens focus on an endometrial biopsy looking at uterine killer cells - so completely different things.  

For me the biggest issue is thin lining - so in my natural cycles I ovulate but don't really menstruate as I don't build up enough lining to have a proper period. Although my lining thickened up when we threw a boatload of oestrogen at it, if it had never properly regenerated and had a proper clear out, it's possible that although the top soil was good, the bottom soil wasn't - and that the foundations weren't strong enough to sustain a pregnancy. The new research by Prof Quenby and Brosens points to menstruation to being critical to the regeneration of the endometrium and endometrial stem cells - so my Dr wants to work on my lining to get me menstruating before we do a transfer cycle. This might involve some light ovarian stims drugs, like I'm doing for IVF right now, but not for the purpose of actually getting eggs (I'll not be allowed to TTC naturally in case of any Octomom type scenarios!) I don't produce enough oestrogen so my Dr wants to 'teach' my ovaries to produce enough oestrogen to grow lining by myself, so we can get me having some proper bleeds before we do a frozen transfer cycle  

When I had my hysteroscopy a few weeks ago the Dr did an endometrial biopsy (not looking at uterine nK cells like the Coventry clinic do), which will serve as a sort of turbo endometrial scratch. However we'll potentially do another one nearer to the time of embryo transfer depending on how long a gap we have. 

We will also be treating empirically for immunes, which is where Prof Quenby and Brosens would disagree, as they argue steroids where they're not needed can leave some women over suppressed. We will however be adding in immunes treatment into the protocol. So prednisolone, intralipids, clexane, aspirin and additional injectable progesterone, on top of the standard IVF meds 

bananafish81 Thu 19-May-16 14:58:09

Reproductive immunology is a specialist area, so there's nothing you can really 'take' without being under the care of a Dr or clinic

The FF immunes faq may be helpful:

bananafish81 Thu 19-May-16 15:03:20

BTW if you get pregnant easily but have trouble staying pregnant I would definitely go to the Coventry clinic. Prof Quenby and Brosens have identified an 'unfussy' uterus as being the cause of RPL in some women - ie they get pregnant too easily, the uterus allows chromosomally abnormal embryos to implant, that it should be rejecting.

Joeypotter1 Thu 26-May-16 16:24:24

Hello everyone. 'It started with the egg' finally arrived yesterday and I've had a quick read through. I found it an interesting read. It was nice to know that I've already been doing some of the things she suggested, for example, taking preconception tablets which have folic acid and giving up alcohol and caffeine.
A quick question - I was wondering if anyone was taking dhea tablets and if so, do you have a brand to recommend?
I'm now back on clomid (100mg this time as they've upped the dose) so i'll let you know how that goes.

bananafish81 Thu 26-May-16 16:25:58

I bought my DHEA from - you want the micronised pharmaceutical grade kind.

Dixxie Thu 26-May-16 17:21:28

Hi Joey, welcome. Bananafish thanks for the tip I shall order some... smile

SuzieBergman123 Thu 24-Nov-16 20:47:28

Hi all, I bought "It starts with the egg" after 3 years of failed TTC. I had a miscarriage last year and a failed IVF PGS in June. My consultant told me to consider donor eggs and that I couldn't improve my egg quality. I am 43. So I decided to to follow the author's advice in every possible way - as I thought I had nothing to lose. Been doing yoga, pilates for the past 4 months, reduced toxins in my life, cut out caffeine and alcohol altogether, tried Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture and bought all the following supplements:

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine 500mg daily
Acetyl-L- Carnitine 500mg daily
L-Carnitine 500mg daily
Ubiquinol CoQ10 600mg daily
DHEA 50 mg daily
Myo-Inositol 2000mg daily
Folic acid 200ug daily
Zinc Picolinate 15mg daily
Liquid vitamin D 2000IU daily
Thorne's Basic Nutrinets IV with copper and iron ----daily

I am now 5 weeks pregnant - conceived naturally. Happy as well as extremely frightened that I may have another miscarriage. Does anyone know what to do with the supplements once you are pregnant? I am scared that if I stop them - I will miscarry.

Please help! Thank you!

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