Thoughts on 'It Starts With The Egg'? - Fertility Network UK

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Thoughts on 'It Starts With The Egg'?

Redsequin profile image

Hi guys. I hope you're all having lovely, relaxing weekends.

I'm just wondering if anyone has read 'It Starts With The Egg'. I've been unsure whether to buy it. On the one hand, I'd love to know more about improving egg quality. On the other hand, I'm worried it'll just make me feel guilty I'm not doing enough.

Since my husband and I double-vaxxed and we don't re-start IVF until January, we decided to risk a cafe today. One of the serving staff was coughing and afterwards, I cried because I was so scared about getting Covid and ruining my egg quality, so I'm starting to wonder if I really need more to worry about!

Anyway, your thoughts on the book would be appreciated!

Jessica xxx

50 Replies

It’s written by someone with no medical training. She’s actually a lawyer and had a background in research. All the author has done is pull together research from other studies which generally have very small sample sizes. I followed it for recurrent miscarriage and egg quality and it made absolutely no difference for me.

Oh wow, I didn't realise she's actually a lawyer! That changes how I see the book. I don't want to take as gospel information based on small-scale studies. Thanks for this! 🧡

Definitely buy it as it gives u food for thought but buy is your body baby friendly by Dr Beer xx

I’ll be honest. I hate that book.

I spent a small fortune buying all the things and cooking the meals for about 6 months and all I achieved was becoming paranoid that I was causing our failed attempts. I genuinely think you need to eat healthy and relax. Now I eat what I want (I have a healthy BMI and aim for 5aday) and only take pregnacare vitamins and I am mentally so much better for it! I think this ride is rough enough without someone making me feel like I don’t have a baby because I used a plastic spatula and eat a takeaway once a week! Xxx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to RubyVet

Haha, omg the spatula guilt! I've definitely had that since I listened to a podcast where the woman was talking about how she'd stopped touching any plastic before IVF. I think you're right. I'm going to just bumble along as I have been with my mostly healthy diet and my regular vitamins. XXXX

ZiggyandBC profile image
ZiggyandBC in reply to RubyVet

I agree with this 100%. The last thing any of us need is to feel like we’re not doing enough and we need to do more to be able to bring our babies home. We’re already doing everything we can xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to ZiggyandBC

YES! Exactly, Ziggy. ⭐

I didn't buy that book but did buy another one. I found it became almost an obsession to follow the book and I don't think that did me any favours. I know the book contains some good advice and others have shared some of that advice on here in the past. I think these books can help but can also hinder sadly. You have referred to possibly feeling guilty if you feel you're not doing enough and in my case that was true and how I ended up feeling xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Skittles11

Hi Skittles. Yes, I think you're right. I'm going to pass on the book for now. I'm trying to head away from the guilty mindset and cut myself some slack. I'm just a human doing her best and that's okay. 🙃

Honestly I think you can get better advice on this forum from people who have been through IVF and TTC for years. The book sets unrealistic expectations about diet and supplements etc. Get advice from the wonderful people on here who have done IVF, tried literally everything, and also know what doing IVF in real life real life really feels like and what’s manageable and what’s not xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Daisy1245

Thanks, Daisy. Yes, I think you're right. I knew there was something stopping me from buying the book, and everyone's comments have confirmed that. 😅

I bought and sped read it, flicking past the in depth research studies & just reading conclusions. It helped open my eyes to changes I should make, but actually if I wasn’t going through IVF or if I am successful in my first round, then I’ll continue with some of the changes, because it’s opened my eyes. I haven’t changed everything, just mainly use of glass tubberware and change of cosmetics. But I echo some of what was said above in that this forum can be a lot more helpful, and I certainly got most of my info on supplements from the great posts on here. xxx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to CJohns

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I've reflected, and I already try to avoid too many chemicals in my beauty products, plastic Tupperware etc. so I think I'm going to just carry on as I am and probably avoid the book for now! xxx

I found it interesting - especially the supplement recommendations, but be careful, it is very very easy to get obsessive about everything, which doesn’t help your mental health or cycles xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Hayleh123

Thank you! May I ask which of the supplement recommendations you adopted? I currently take a multivitamin with Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Zinc, Iron and B vitamins alongside 200mg of COQ10 and wondering if I should add Omega 3.

Hayleh123 profile image
Hayleh123 in reply to Redsequin

I think what matters the most is the protocol you are on - not supplements. We like to feel we have control by dosing up on all this stuff, but it doesn’t make much difference apart from vitamin d (4000mg - but get levels checked), folic acid (5mg folate) and Ubiquinol (300mg) x

Hayleh123 profile image
Hayleh123 in reply to Redsequin

Ps. If you want to focus on nutrition, I recommend a session with Mel Brown, she is lovely x

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Hayleh123

Thanks, lovely. This is all useful.

I just wanted to reply About freaking out I’m cafe … this is my fear - we start December 23rd and I hve sooo many things to attend with friends And just enjoy Xmas spirit but I keep worrying. I don’t know what to do tbh as I do have one child and he is 4 and a germ carrier anyway so can’t take him out of school for a month anyhow I didn’t buy the book just read about some supplements that I seemed to find everyone on every forum agreeing with and getting the one - one is Coq10 as my doctor also told me to her it. However if I bought the book I feel it would end up making me feel I’d have to have a very grey life… I just can’t

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Yeside

Hi lovely. Yes, Christmas time is particularly hard as there are always so many invitations to things! And, yes, I imagine it's tough with a little one because they're always catching things.

I think I'm particularly paranoid because I had Covid at the start of the pandemic and it hit me like a train: I was ill for nearly two months! Although I imagine after two vaccinations now it wouldn't be nearly as bad. My husband also calmed me down yesterday by reminding me so much is out of our control, we're doing our best, and getting completely stressed out about it only makes me feel worse.

It sounds sensible just going with supplements people are suggesting on here. I'm interested in adding Vitamin E after transfer as I'd never heard of that before. xxx

Hi there! First of all to freaking out. I’m not overly scared of covid, personally haven’t worn a mask in shops since the restrictions have been lifted BUT I’ve just changed clinic and they’ll make me do a PCR before the next round so I’ll be a recluse in the weeks leading up to it, just not worth putting myself through all the drugs and headspace to not be allowed treatment because I catch covid. That said, I truly believe I caught covid when I went to my last clinic for egg retrieval because I hadn’t been anywhere else.

I’ve read that book too after a friend recommended it. I think if you believed every single word you’d drive yourself mad. I tend to eat very clean and I’m a bit of a fitness freak, but like most women here I own a plastic spatula 😂 My new consultant recommended DHEA and CoQ10, so I’m taking those along with the usual folic acid etc. I’d say I’d let you know how it goes but I’m on different stims next round.

Best of luck, be kind to yourself xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Dpwpool

Hello! yes, my clinic also makes you do a PCR test, and in fact they temperature check you every time you walk into the building! I think that's perhaps increased my worry, and also because I had Covid at the start of the pandemic and reacted very badly to it: I was ill for nearly two months, and I've always wondered if it affected my fertility.

Haha: the spatula! Oh god, the things we worry about. I mostly eat the Mediterranean diet with the odd treat thrown in, and I exercise 30 minutes a day. I am looking at maybe adding supplements but just waiting to see what my consultant says when we talk to her Monday.

Like you, I'll also be on different stims this time as for our first round I only produced 4 eggs lol (although the quality must've been okay as they all fertilised and half made it to blast) so it's going to be hard to tell what makes the difference.

When does your next round start? Best of luck with it, and thanks so much for your thoughtful response. 🧡

Wow! I just want to give you a big hug!! I’ve been there with that worry and I totally get it 🤗

In my opinion if you are that worried about a cough in a cafe I would defo not read it, it has some helpful parts but that is outweighed by the guilt and pressure it can put on you (and some other IVF tips and books too) I realised this quite quickly luckily but did have a few months of worry, guilt and anxiety about practically every part of my life (cutlery, shampoo, foods, vitamins etc) and also heart palpitations and insomnia from the vitamin combo it’s recommends! When I properly stopped worrying and went about my life is when it finally worked after years of trying. Not sure if it’s coincidence or not 🤷🏻‍♀️ But it’s made me think that the less worry can help vs all that pressure.

I think the ladies on here will probably be better at giving realistic tips on egg quality improvements that worked for them and maybe you can pick and try ones you might feel comfortable with? I know there have already been quite a few posts about it too ☺️

One thing I would recommend is the mindful IVF app it helped my to be a bit more relaxed about the whole thing and helped me gain my sanity and sense of control in an otherwise crazy process and I’m not usually into that kind of mindful stuff. I am wishing you the best of luck for the rest of your journey 🥰 and a lovely relaxed Christmas when it comes xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Twiglet2

Ahh thanks, Twiglet.

Yes, I can definitely be a bit of a stress-box, and probably don't need anything else to worry about. And actually, the thing that's been helping me the most is just taking 15 minutes to lie on my acupressure mat and listen to a guided meditation every night before bed.

Wow, it's wild that the supplements gave you heart palpitations, but I guess actually not that surprising; it's easy to forget how powerful these supplements can be—even the herbal ones. Anyway, I've written a few down and I plan to ask my consultant about them when we have our post IVF consult Monday. We got very few eggs (4!), but they all fertilised and two survived to blast, so I'm aware I don't want to change everything because even getting the same result again would actually be okay. I mostly just want *something* to transfer!

I hope you have a lovely, relaxed Christmas too! I'm going to put my decorations up today (a bit early but I know it will make me happy, so why not?!)


Twiglet2 profile image
Twiglet2 in reply to Redsequin

That sounds like you have a decent egg quality so hopefully stays like that for you lovely ☺️Yeah It was so strange! I think it Was the Ubiquinol -coq10 one that did it! As soon as I stopped them and just went back to the pregnacare preconception one and iron (mine is always low) the palpitations stopped straight away!

Oh I might need to get me one of those acupressure mats, sounds good 👌🏻 I’m currently getting the decorations up too! Absolutely not too early 😆 🎄 xx

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Twiglet2

I can 100 per cent recommend the acupressure mat. When I first brought it home my husband was like "WTF is this medieval torture device?" 😂but now even he loves it too. Happy Christmas decorating!

I think you have to take everything that is said in all fertility books with a large pinch of salt and common sense. I have now done 4 rounds of ICSI and I read the book earlier this year before our last cycle on a recommendation of a friend and increased a number of my vitamins and supplements as per the advise in the book. My best friends are a GP and a pharmacist so I also spoke to them about some of the supplements I’d never heard of before or that were difficult to get in the uk and got them to get me some additional info on whether they were really good things to take. Melatonin for example, both my friends said absolutely not to take and that it would require a prescription in the UK which no one would give me so I just took it off the list. I took vitamin C, D, E, omega 3, DHEA, bio-quinone (although I took 300 rather than 600 as it was so expensive and I figured something was better than nothing) and high strength folic acid. I also changed all my shower stuff to sulphate free, although I’m not at all convinced whether that would really make any difference. I have low AMH and had previously only got 1 usable egg which I then miscarriaged from our first 3 rounds so we had decided this would be our last round before looking at donor eggs and as such we figured it was worth throwing everything we could at it to see if it helped. We got 4 eggs at collection, 2 fertilised and I’m currently 8 weeks pregnant. I have no idea if any of the extra stuff I took helped or if it was just luck but right now I’m glad I took it all and gave our last round everything I could. Good luck!

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Pupster83

Thanks, Pupster, this is really helpful.

I am planning to start on Omega 3 and Vitamin as I've not been taking those. I was going to ask my consultant about DHEA when we next chat, although am I right in thinking it can have some nasty side effects so it's only recommended in very specific cases?

I currently have two blasts in the freezer from our first ICSI round, and we're hoping to get two more in January and do a fresh transfer of one of those. I'll be on different stims though, I think, as the consultant thought I should be able to produce more eggs considering my AMH and FSH results (like you, I made 4 eggs!).

Huge congrats on your pregnancy!!! What an awesome result for you after such a tough first 3 rounds. 🧡

Pupster83 profile image
Pupster83 in reply to Redsequin

I’ve been on and off DHEA for over 3 years, as we were basically told at the start that it was the only thing that might help egg quality given my AMH was very low, and I haven’t really had any nasty side effects. I reckon it’s increased some facial hairs, which I hate, but in the grand scheme of thing I know they can be dealt with and in all honesty I’ve found they have got even worse in the last 6 weeks anyway.

Hi Redsequin,

I flicked through this book and haven't picked it up since. I don't agree with intensive dieting but I just try and stay healthy and take the medication and supplements I need to but it's also important to keep healthy in your mind. It's a marathon and there are so many ups and downs and twists and turns. So much you don't have control over. Try and be kind to yourself. (Easy for me to say) One way is not to make everything about IVF. It's going to be a big part of your life but there are also other things going on. I am seeing Christmas as a distraction and love crafting so trying to focus something else that and gives my brain a bit of a break. I do worry about covid (another thing we don't have a lot of control over) a bit but I work in a hospital and doing a few normal things now like going to a cafe or out. But I wear a mask and wash my hands. Also sometimes people just cough a bit for other reasons. But it's ok to do what you feel comfortable with like sitting outside if they have a heater!!!

Defo get yourself some nice treats to distract yourself. Maybe an audio book? Or crafting project to give your mind a rest 🙄

Hi lovely. I think your advice is spot on!

My crying after the cafe was a bit of a wake-up call. My husband very gently said he thinks I'm putting too much pressure on myself when so much of this is out of our control. He said the same thing about maybe focussing more on doing the things I enjoy. I'm also a crafter, and now planning on a few fun Christmas projects for after work next week and also going to have friends over for dinner. I know all of this will shift my focus and cheer me up.

Also, I'm trying to remember that if I catch covid or flu or whatever it won't be "my fault", just an annoying thing that's happened. I think partly I get so stressed because I had Covid at the beginning of the pandemic and was ill for nearly 2 months! I should try and remember I'm vaxxed now, though, so it hopefully wouldn't be as severe.


I think whether or not you find the book helpful will depend on how you approach it. There is a tonne of stuff in there about lifestyle eg avoiding plastics etc, and much of it is impractical and likely to simply make you feel like infertility is your own fault. I largely ignored those bits. What I do think it is helpful for is the supplements. Some supplements are backed by a number of studies (eg melatonin and vitamin E) whereas others aren't, but other than hurting your bank balance the worst they will do is nothing (with the exception of DHEA - that is not to be messed with without careful consideration). I found it a really helpful starting point to start reading papers on the ones she recommends and even though she has no medical training she does actually make a pretty good stab at what is effectively a scientific literature review. I took all of the recommended supplements and I had really good blastocyst rates for my age (39 when I started, 50% blastocysts from eggs collected in both rounds). My second round was successful. Was it the supplements? I will of course never know. But I felt like I was actively doing something positive, and in the IVF fight where one largely feels utterly powerless it is one of the few things I felt like I had control over. xx

Hi Purpledoggy, just following this post as I'm interested in supplements. Have you had a bad experience with DHEA. I just started taking it a few weeks ago after having levels checked. I'll be checking again after a month of being on it. I haven't had any bad side effects so far other than my period just arrived and I'm quite uncomfortable today which is a bit unusual for me.

I have not taken DHEA myself, although I did buy some as I was considering it if round 2 failed. It is rather notorious for unwanted side effects (eg greasy skin, acne, hair growth) when taken at the full dose (75 mg per day) and many women need a lower dose because of either side effects or ending up with their DHEA and/or testosterone levels too high on the full dose. It is likely beneficial at the right dose, I just flagged it above as most supplements are pretty harmless unless used excessively, but that one can have detrimental effects even at the standard dose depending on your response to it. If you have been prescribed it then obviously discuss with your RE before changing the dose xx

Thanks for all this really helpful advice! May I ask how much vitamin E you took and when you started taking it? That's currently one of the few supplements I'm not taking, along with Omega three which I plan to start soon! 🧡

I was taking 200IU a day until I started an IVF round, then took 400IU a day during stims and 600IU a day after stims (I stopped for 2 days before EC to reduce any chance of increased bleeding risk). It improves blood flow to the ovaries and endometrium so it is a good one to take when actively going through IVF. If you take omega 3 make sure it is not cod liver oil based as it is high vitamin A, which is not good when TTC as it can cause birth defects. I use algal omega 3 but fish oil (as opposed to fish liver) is also fine xx

Thanks, lovely! Sounds like a plan.

Pnw2020 profile image
Pnw2020 in reply to Purpledoggy

Hi. I agree with Purpledoggy. I followed the IVF guide in the book. Most supplements don't do any harm but it's a good idea to check DHEA-S/testosterone if considering taking this. I also tested Vitamin D and swapped to a spray which helped maintain my levels. Remember that supplements should ideally be started at least 90 before a cycle due to the egg recruitment process. Who knows if it helped me but I did two cycles and had a 100% blastocyst rate each time. Don't forget to find ways to manage stress and I personally think you have to do what is right for you. Good luck x

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Pnw2020

Thanks, lovely. Unfortunately, I don't have three months but I'm going to do the best with the 1.5 months that I do have!

I've been taking all the normal preconceptions supplements (folic acid, iron, zinc, B vitamins and COq10) for a while but just now adding in omega 3 and Vitamin E. Also trying to eat a protein-rich diet with lots of leafy greens and as far as possible avoiding plastics/toxins.

I'll be staying with my in-laws though for 2 weeks over Christmas so aware I won't be able to control my diet quite so much, though I might ask them if they can get in smoothie ingredients for me so I can have a nutrition boost at least once a day.

I started reading it, but found it all too much and put it away in the cupboard and have never taken it out since. I know we all desperately want our happy endings, but it all seemed a bit extreme to me. Xxx

Yes, I think extreme advice can do more harm than good sometimes, particularly if it makes you feel lots of stress and guilt!

I must say I followed up book and aslo my naturopath ans cut lot of stuff such as diary, eggs, coffee, went guten free took supplements NAC, NAD and ubiniqoul for over 3 months ( recommended by my fertikity doct). Started using all natural cleaning and soap, body wash shampoo all that . Eating only organic. Just went through my egg retrevial at 39 years old and had better results than at 35. Im not pregnant yet but if I knew all of this at 35 I would probably have 2 kids naturally by now. MENTS i have son from first ivf. I never believed that diet can make change but now I'm 100 precent believer in it. You need 3 months at least for eggs to improve and also all the inflamation to loose up( diary is big big infalmatory for most women).Hope this helps. Let me tell you that my RE was shocked by my results.

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Barbemily

Thanks so much for sharing your experience: it sounds like all the changes you made really worked for you!

Unfortunately, I don't have 3 months before my next cycle but have been trying to use the 1.5 months to be healthy where I can. I *mostly* eat an organic Meditteranean diet, take various supplements and am trying to add in a green smoothie with avocado, spinach and plenty of ginger once a day plus ginger tea as an anti-inflammatory. I've used natural soap/cleaning products for a while now but I get dandruff, so I kind of have to use a stronger shampoo at least half the time or I look awful 🥴

Barbemily profile image
Barbemily in reply to Redsequin

Can you cut diary, eggs and go gluten free?

Redsequin profile image
Redsequin in reply to Barbemily

Hmm, I guess I could cut down on those 3 (not that I actually eat many eggs or much gluten) but I do find it a bit confusing; lots of articles I've read have said eggs and organic dairy can be good for TTC because they're so protein rich.

Barbemily profile image
Barbemily in reply to Redsequin

I do not want to suggest what you should do but that worked for me alot. Best of luck dear to you.

Hi lovely, just to echo what others have said really. I did buy the book a few months ago and I have flicked through it. If you tried to do everything in the book you would drive yourself mad though and stress is not something you want.I try to do some of the things recommended in the book, such as avoiding plastics where possible and taking some of the supplements etc.

I am due to start another round early next year too.

I was actually due to have egg collection in December. I was on the pill in preparation and then tested positive for covid. I was gutted! So we had to postpone. My husband and I are double vaccinated, I only had mild symptoms and even though my husband had cold symptoms he tested negative luckily. But I am worried about egg and sperm quality for next time now! Hoping it does not have any negative effects. It is annoying to have the delay, but also just going to try and use the extra time to get more supplements in, try to relax and just enjoy Christmas. So I can understand how you feel about covid. I had been so careful though, working from home and not really going anywhere and still caught it - so do allow yourself a treat if it makes you feel better! All we can try and do is be as careful as possible, but you still have a life to lead and looking after your mental health is very important xx

Hi lovely. Thanks so much for your kind reply.

Oh no! How frustrating for you guys to catch Covid, though I'm glad to hear your symptoms were only mild. I think part of the reason I'm probably more scared than most people is when I had Covid at the start of the pandemic it was awful and lasted nearly 2 months! But you're right: you can get it even if you're being super careful and you do have to still lead a life despite IVF and all its various challenges.


Hi there, I did follow the book for my second IVF cycle, and had a successful pregnancy. I agree with everyone who said take it with a grain of salt & don’t obsess. I made changes that felt “doable” to me. It also actually gave me more of a piece of mind bc after following it I felt I had done just about everything possible to achieve a successful pregnancy. So even if my IVF had failed I would’ve been more at peace than if I hadn’t followed the book. Hope this helps ❤️

I agree: it's good to feel you've been proactive but it's not good to obsess. I'm going to try and lean into my intuition about what further changes feel right for me. xxxx

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