It is generally believed that getting pregnant is hard after 40 years of age. This includes difficulty in conception, higher risk of miscarriages and pre-term births and high rate of complications during pregnancy. A number of research studies concluded that although the fertility rate decreases with age, a lot of females can still become pregnant naturally without needing any medical or surgical intervention.
What Decreases Fertility With Advancing Age?
Dr. D Navot (1) conducted a study to ascertain the actual cause of infertility in females over 40 years. He conducted a study on 35 women with mean age of 42.0 years (and already diagnosed with primary fertility). After conducting a variety of medical and laboratory test, he concluded that the ovum related issues are the primary cause of infertility and if normal ovarian cycle is restored, the female reproductive organs in 40 year olds are competent to bear the pregnancy.
P.van Zonneveld (2) also confirmed the results of Navot after conducting his study on women above 40 years of age (age range of study population being 41 to 46 years) and suggested that the hormonal secretion declines in women with advancing age that interferes with the normal ovulation. This is further complemented with a substantial decrease in the total number of viable oocytes. These factors contribute to the difficulty in conception seen in older women.
What Are Some Tips To Get Pregnant After 40s?
Research data clearly suggest that restoration of normal balance of female reproductive hormones can help in improving fertility rate and chances of conception. Identification and prompt management of factors that may produce an imbalance in the production or metabolism of female hormones can increase the chances of conception. Few helpful tips in this regard are:
Maintenance of Normal Body Weight
Obesity is a leading cause of infertility and a higher BMI is directly associated with significant alterations in normal ovulation. This is attributed to the changes in the concentration of reproductive hormones as a result of peripheral conversion in adipose tissues. It is important to:
- Avoid vigorous dieting or starvation as the weight loss tool since nutritional irregularities greatly affect the secretion of endocrine hormones.
- Be slow, consistent and avoid hormonal supplements for weight loss support (most weight loss supplements affect the secretion or metabolism of thyroid hormone, thereby affecting the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone FSH directly).
- Perform regular daily physical activity such as fertility yoga that promotes the blood flow to female reproductive organs.
Note: PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease) is the leading cause of female infertility that responds significantly to moderate weight loss.
It is very important to study your menstrual cycle and ascertain the fertile period (that is around ovulation or 14th day of a 28 day menstrual cycle). A few helpful tips in the estimation of ovulation period are:
- Monitoring and recording the basal body temperature and practicing frequent intercourse at or around the time of ovulation (rise of 1 or 2 degrees is observed with LH surge that marks ovulation).
- Use of ovulation predictor kits that detect changes in the hormonal breakdown products in urine.
- Monitoring the changes in the cervical secretion. This will help you in understanding how vulnerable the embryo (your baby) is; before and soon after implantation.
- Avoid strenuous physical activity especially lifting heavy weight, riding stairs and running.
- Perform intercourse in different positions as long as you and your partner are comfortable (doggy position is most commonly preferred for baby making due to deeper penetration and much deeper delivery of sperms)
Experts suggest massaging uterus is very helpful in enhancing blood supply to uterus that promotes development of uterine tissue. Besides massage, fertility cleanse is something that helps in detoxification process in order to eliminate toxins and chemicals produced as a result of hormonal breakdown, medications and stress mediators released by the body as parts of metabolic processes.
Healthy nourishing fertility supplements include vitamin C, grapefruit juice and seed extract and fresh garlic for optimizing detoxification processes. Herbal remedies have least side effects and drug interactions as compared to pharmacological agents. Most herbal remedies exert their action by promoting the blood supply to the reproductive organs, maintaining a normal biochemical balance, stabilizing the secretion of different hormones that are required for conception and optimizing the pH of female genital tract. Few notable herbal remedies that help in getting pregnant naturally include:
Saw Palmetto is available in capsular form as over the counter herb and promotes fertility by correcting menstrual irregularities.
- False Unicorn is an ancient Native American herb that is equally effective in treating male as well as female infertility. Especially effective in women with history of recurrent miscarriages.
- Red Clover is perhaps the most potent and widely used herbal supplement that serves many functions to enhance the female fertility naturally. This includes correction of hormonal irregularities, detoxification of blood and delivery of essential vitamins. Do not use this herb if you have a history of major recent surgery or clotting disease.
- Maca was first used by the natives of Peru as a fertility herb and it exert its actions by improving the sex drive and by non-pharmacological management of female issues like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian disease.
- Vitex is a popular remedy to manage ovarian cysts, menstrual irregularities and anovulatory cycles. It is most effective when employed in tincture form.
Other popular fertility herbs include Oatstraw, Damiana, Alfalfa and Red Raspberry Leaf.
Caution: It is highly advisable to speak to a healthcare provider before starting a fertility herb supplement. This is essential because some herbs are known to cross react with medications or other biological agents (like other herbs) leading to serious side effects and deleterious complications.
Diet and Foods
Fertility diet refers to nutritional intake of healthy macro and micro-molecules that help in supplying optimal nutrients for your developing baby and expanding uterus. At the same time, the caloric intake should be sufficient to supply enough energy to your body without causing excessive weight gain. Increase your intake of vegetables like cauliflower, beans and broccoli. Consume healthy and wholesome soups and abstain yourself from caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
Moreover consume more super foods that are nutrient dense but low in calories, (for example fish that is rich in healthy fats and proteins). Increase the intake of vegetables and fruits like cabbage, green pepper and bell pepper, lemon, orange, tomatoes and kiwi. A well planned fertility diet helps in revitalizing the tissues and cells, helps in eradication of toxins and prevents free radical damage to sensitive cells and tissues.
Eggs are helpful in supplying you all the essential proteins and amino acids along with choline and other micro nutrients.
Salad supply enough nutrients, vitamins, fiber, minerals and hydration; all in very small number of calories (essentially helpful for you if you are troubled with obesity or weight issues).
Selenium and vitamin E supplementation is very helpful in improving vitality of sperms. Selenium has long been known to protect sperms for oxidative and free radical damage. Intake of supplements like Iron, calcium and selenium are helpful in maintaining the vitality and functionality of sperms in female genital tract.
Other helpful supplements that are advised to women above 40 years of age are iron and folate due to mild to moderate sub- clinical anemia. Moreover, folate is helpful in preventing neural tube defects that are fairly common in babies born to women above 35 years of age. Calcium and Vitamin D are also advised in recommended doses (ideally after a serum assessment). Other great choices include lipoic acid, L-Carnitine, L–arginine and grapeseed extract.
Fertiliaid for women is a doctor-approved and ObGyn-recommended supplement designed to increase fertility and improve reproductive health. It helps to promotes female hormonal balance and reproductive wellness, supporting fertility and optimize a woman’s chances of conceiving.
What To Do To Improve Your Chances of Conception?
- Increase your water intake as water helps in keeping your tissues hydrated and healthy, it also helps in decreasing your cravings and unnecessary calorie intake by suppressing appetite.
- Increase the intake of anti-oxidants that neutralize or kill free radicals; thereby protects the egg from damage.
- Stress, anxiety and worry can alter the concentration and production of different neurotransmitters and mediators in the body. This eventually affects female reproductive hormones and blood supply to reproductive organs. Meditation or the use of fertility hypnosisis helpful in releasing stress and improving your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
What To Avoid
Report published in renowned scientific journal Obstetrics & Gynecology journal suggests that mere lifestyle and diet modification can improve the chances of conception in 80% of the females above 40 years, who lack a gross systemic or organic issue interfering with getting pregnant. While trying to conceive, women are advised to limit their intake if caffeine and caffeine containing beverages as caffeine stimulate the smooth muscles of the body (that may interfere with conception).
Other helpful tips include:
- Avoid sugary beverages and candies that increase blood sugar levels and create a state of academia that interferes with conception. Moreover, sperms are less likely to survive and maintain its functions like motility in acidic environment.
- Alcohol should be strictly avoided since metabolic breakdown products of alcohol are known to interfere with hormonal release and integrity of female biochemical environment.
- Decrease the intake of inorganic and processed foods that are high in toxins and chemicals.
For best results, consult with a fertility specialist to know more about the helpful tips that may increase your chances of getting pregnant.