How To Get Pregnant When You’re Over 35 – What You Need To Know
Several weeks ago, Dr. Dominika Zarzeczny, Naturopathic Doctor and Wellth’s Clinic Lead discussed Fertility Over 35.
It’s an important topic to address, given the trend towards later child-bearing in Canada that we have been seeing over the last two decades. In fact, more women over 30 are giving birth than in past generations, with 31% of first births occurring to women between the ages of 30 and 34, and 11% in women over 35.
There can be benefits to delaying having children. Work, school or personal opportunities are some of the reasons why couples are choosing to have kids later in life. But delayed child-baring can come with its own set of challenges.
Many women don’t realize how quickly fertility declines and how early that can start to happen. Many also believe that fertility treatments can make up for that decline.
There must be a test for infertility, right?
Unfortunately, there is no test for infertility at this time. The tests currently available help to determine a woman’s ovarian reserve, that is, the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovaries. These tests are useful for identify if a woman is a candidate for assisted reproductive technologies like IUI and IVF. They are not however, a reliable indicator for predicting a woman’s chance of getting pregnant.
Surely, if I am a healthy woman over 35 years of age and have a regular menstrual cycle, my fertility is good, right?
If only it were that simple. Here’s why it’s not:
– A woman is short one less egg with every period she has. It’s a numbers game.
– The older the woman, the more likely she is to have ovarian cysts, blocked Fallopian tubes or pelvic adhesions.
– As a woman gets older, the length of her cycle, particularly the first half of her menstrual cycle can vary in duration, making it harder to predict ovulation.
– The older the woman, the longer her eggs are exposed to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the production of free radicals and antioxidant defences that leads to tissue damage.
A woman’s eggs are particularly sensitive to decades of low levels of oxidative stress, which can result from:
– Psychological stress
– Poor diet
– Lack of exercise
– Pre-existing health conditions like diabetes or auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Dominika’s Top 10 Things That All Women 35 Or Older Should Do To Optimize Their Chances Of Conceiving:
- All women should increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.
- All women should reduce or avoid fast food, broiled and/or grilled meats, processed grains (e.g. cereal, bars and crackers) and high fat dairy.
- All women should reduce their alcohol intake to zero or near zero, and their partners should cut back too.
- All women should quit smoking, and get their partners to quit too.
- All women drinking coffee should limit it to no more than 2 cups per day.
- All women who are on long-term medication should visit their friendly neighbourhood pharmacist for a medication review to address potential drug-induced nutrient depletions.
- All women using NSAIDs for pain (i.e. ibuprofen, aspirin) should visit their friendly neighbourhood pharmacist to discuss alternative options.
- All women should engage in moderate intensity exercise because it Increases blood flow to the core and pelvic organs, improves sexual function, and reduces oxidative stress. Some women may have to scale back on their high-intensity exercise (>5 hours/week) as it can reduce fertility. The only exception is women with BMI greater than 25.
- All women should limit or avoid exposure to plastics and bisphenol A found in canned foods and drinks, plastic containers, straws and water bottles.
- All women should be supplementing with folic acid. during the pre-conception period.
All women 35 years of age or older who are trying to conceive or considering having children should:
– Obtain a Day 3 Hormone Panel: this can be ordered by your family doctor or your naturopath, and includes FSH, LH, Estradiol, and AMH.
– Monitor their cycles using ovulation test kits and/or basal body temperature tracking using easy-to-use wearables like the iFerTracker.
– Support their egg quality by nourishing their eggs, providing fresh blood, oxygen and a steady supply of antioxidants to their eggs. Remember, you can’t change the number of your eggs remaining BUT you can support the quality of the ones you have left.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, my treatment goal for all of my female clients trying to conceive, particularly those 35 years of age or older, is to support their egg quality. We do so by reducing oxidative stress levels; improving pelvic blood flow; increasing antioxidants; supporting eggs’ mitochondrial function; and optimizing hormone levels. For example, in addition to folic acid, most of my fertility patients supplement with natural health products that improve their egg quality, like co-enzyme Q10, inositol, Ashwagandha, Alpha-lipoic acid, melatonin and N-acetyl-cysteine. They also receive acupuncture scheduled around their menstrual cycles to increase blood flow to the pelvis, thereby improving chances of successful implantation.
I encourage all women to take their fertility into their hands regardless of their age, but particularly those 35 years of age or older. They can do so by building a health care team that includes a Naturopathic Doctor to help them make the best and most informed decisions about their health so that they can feel empowered on their fertility journey.
If you would like to book a complimentary 15 minute meet & greet with Dr Dominika to discuss how she can help you, call the clinic on 416-504-9355.