A recent study suggests that royal jelly from bees may help boost fertility by promoting ovarian follicle growth, increasing their size and quality.
At birth, a female infant’s ovaries already contain all the eggs they will ever have. Typically, this is approximately 300,000 to 400,000. The eggs are immature and normally remain dormant until puberty. At that time, and for every month thereafter until menopause, the ovaries prepare one to several egg follicles every month for possible fertilization. This process starts with the release of FSH or follicle-stimulating hormone, and LH, luteinizing hormone, from the pituitary gland in the brain.
Hormones and Ovulation
FSH signals the ovary to prepare an egg. It does this by encasing the egg in a follicle, which is similar to a fluid-filled sac on the surface of the organ. Several follicles may be present, but generally, only one of them will actually release an egg. If more than one egg is released, fraternal twins are possible. These are twins no more genetically related than any other siblings, and they can both be of the same sex or one of each.
Ovarian follicle growth and eventual size are critical for conception. Not only do the follicles host and release the egg, but they are directly involved in the quality of the egg cell. Egg cell quality is a key factor in the chances for conception. The egg matures in the follicle partly under the direction of the pituitary when it releases LH. After the egg is mature, it bursts out from its fluid-filled sac and begins the journey through the fallopian tube. After the egg is released, the now-empty follicle becomes the corpus luteum, which is a Latin term for yellow body. The corpus luteum then releases the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone.
Royal jelly is a liquid white substance that is produced by worker honeybees. It’s composed of water, sugar, fats, amino acids and vitamins and minerals. It’s called royal jelly because the worker bees feed it to the hive’s queen bee. It’s a very nutritious substance, and there is some evidence that royal jelly may be useful for the following:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Faster healing of wounds
- Easing premenstrual and menopausal symptoms
Ovarian Follicle Growth Study
In addition to those benefits, a study linked royal jelly to the maturation of the ovarian follicle and ovarian follicle growth. The quality of the egg and the size of the ovarian follicles are directly related. In turn, the quality of the egg and the chances of conception are also related. As women age, the quality of their eggs declines. That is one major reason why fertility in women past the age of 35 is significantly lower than that of women under the age of 30. Ovarian follicle growth ideally leads to a mature follicle size of 18 to 20 millimeters.
The same study indicated that royal jelly increased the levels of estrogen and progesterone. Adequate levels of both hormones are necessary for both conception and normal pregnancy. Royal jelly was also linked to the production of more mature follicles, which may release more viable eggs. Blood levels of antioxidants were also increased. Antioxidants protect cells from damage by free radicals to their DNA. Free radicals are harmful compounds produced by cells during certain processes involving oxygen. Antioxidants also boost immune system function and decrease harmful chronic inflammation states.
Choosing a Royal Jelly
There are some standards relating to the quality of royal jelly or RJ. Not all brands are the same. On labels, look for the following key information:
Fresh RJ will be in the form of a creamy substance. If it’s in powder form, it’s been freeze-dried or lyophilized. Be sure the latter form has been kept under cold conditions. The active ingredient in RJ is 10-HAD. Look for a minimum content of 1.4 grams per 100 grams. Type-one RJ means it was produced by bees fed only RJ, honey, or pollen. Type two means that the bees were fed something else, such as sugar syrup. Type one is considered to be of better quality. Also, look for certification that the RJ is free of contaminants.