“I’ve put off starting my family, can I still get pregnant naturally if I’m over 35 years old?” The answer, of course, is YES! As a Naturopathic Doctor with a special interest in fertility and women’s health, this is a concern that I work with every day. Here are 4 steps to follow if you are over 35 and starting to plan your family.
1. Forget everything you’ve been told about fertility and age. Yes it is true that fertility declines with age, but the rate at which your chance of pregnancy decreases isn’t necessarily as fast as you’ve been told. In the incredible article “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?” Jean Tweng debunks popular fertility myths. Tweng found that the widely circulated statistic that 1 in 3 women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after one year of trying is based on French birth records from 1670 to 1830! Considering that a woman’s life expectancy in the early 1800s was just 39 years old, you can see how these statistics don’t really translate to modern-day times. In fact, a study published in 2004 in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. Those odds look much better, don’t they!
2. Clean up your act Healthy natural conception is a process that ideally begins before starting trying to conceive. You’ll need to identify any general health concerns like poor digestion, minor hormonal imbalances, poor sleep and general toxicity in both partners so that you can put your best egg or sperm forward when the time comes to make a baby. I recommend that my patients follow a cleanse for a month prior to trying to conceive, and to follow this up with a Whole Foods Diet that focuses on fresh vegetables, lean proteins and limited whole grains. Basic supplements like a high-quality prenatal vitamin and fish oils should also be started at least 1 month before trying to conceive.
3. Get checked out by a medical professional While the conception statistics look good for healthy women in their 30s, the prospects aren’t as strong for women and men with certain health conditions. For women, some of the major concerns are polycystic ovarian syndrome, fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid conditions and hormonal imbalances. For men, fertility concerns include testicular varicocele, prostatitis, hormonal imbalances and toxin exposure. Smoking and obesity affect fertility in both men and women. If you suspect that you have any of the above conditions, you should see a medical professional sooner rather than later. Otherwise, I typically recommend that both partners have basic fertility testing done after 3 months of unsuccessful conception if you are 35 or older.
4. Relax Don’t forget that making a baby is supposed to be fun! Stress can reduce libido and affect hormone balance, so now that you know the truth about those nasty fertility statistics you can relax and enjoy the process. If you need a little help managing stress, consider seeing a Naturopath or Acupuncturist – they can offer treatments that help with both the biological and emotional aspects of stress. Half the fertility battle is managing the abject terror that many women in their 30s feel about their chances of getting pregnant, and it doesn’t help that society keeps perpetuating the notion that women should be starting their families in their 20s. For many of us, this just isn’t a realistic option. It is important to keep in mind that a healthy pregnancy and baby are more likely under the age of 40, but at least now you know that you don’t have to start praying to the Fertility Gods on the eve of your 30th birthday!
– Originally posted on the Semperviva Yoga blog