Preparing for conception in your 30s
- The main reason why women are trying to conceive after 30 is that women are becoming career-oriented and also because they now have more freedom and equality than past times
- Fertility begins to decline as you reach the age of 35
- A womans peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s
In today’s world, more and more women are trying to conceive over the age of 30. The main cause of this is that women are becoming career-oriented and also because they now have more freedom and equality than past times. There is no denying that this is wonderful. This freedom and equality give us the chance to focus on our goals, travelling, and all the other things we want to achieve. It allows us to make our dreams a possibility, rather than feeling like we have to have children in our 20’s.
Although we are no longer stuck as before, we always have a nagging fear of our fertility declining as we age. In this article, we will discuss what happens to a woman's fertility with age and how to prepare for conception over 30. We will discuss medical and natural options for supporting the body and preparing it for conception in your 30s. We have also mentioned some fertility-specific diets along with tips for improving your cervical mucus production and egg and uterine health. We are here to help you with smart preparation and point out the key areas that need to be focused on.
In this article
Fertility as you age
The Menstrual Cycle:
The beginning of the childbearing years is known as menarche. It is when the first menstruation begins.
The long phase in which the body’s ovarian function and hormone production declines are known as climacteric. During this phase, the body adapts to the natural changes in which menstruation ends. Menopause occurs during the climacteric period in a woman’s life. Climacteric usually begins at the age of 35 and lasts for about 15-20 years.
- In the Childbearing Years
The childbearing years of a healthy woman are approximate from the age of 11-40 years.
The hypothalamus is a small region in the brain that produces GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone). GnRH signals the pituitary to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Women with regular menstrual cycles release GnRH in a pulsatile manner.
This normal release of GnRH signals some follicles in the ovary to start maturing. It also signals the ovaries to release progesterone and estrogen which is recognized by the pituitary gland. As the follicles start to mature, they increase the release of estrogen over time. The rise in estrogen levels signals the pituitary gland to restrain the release of FSH.
The increase in estrogen levels also signals the pituitary gland to release LH. LH signals the follicles to open up and release mature eggs and this process is known as ovulation.
A corpus luteum is a heap of cells formed in an ovary. They are responsible for the production of progesterone during early pregnancy. Its role depends on whether or not fertilization takes place.
After ovulation comes to the luteal phase. If fertilization takes place, the corpus luteum begins to secrete increased quantities of progesterone and constant levels of estrogen. The progesterone influences the endometrium causing it to develop and to be able to nourish a developing embryo.
If fertilization does not take place, the decline in the hormones causes the endometrium to shed. This is because the endometrium is always dependent on hormones for its health, development, and maintenance. When the estrogen levels are low enough, the cycle starts all over again as the hypothalamus releases GnRH. This cycle differs from woman to woman and usually lasts for about 28 days.
- In the Climacteric and Menopause
The approximate age for climacteric is 35-60 and 40-55 for menopause. It may differ from woman to woman. Most women begin the climacteric phase around the age of 35-40. During this age, the length of the menstrual cycle shortens from about 28 days to around 26 days. This happens because the ovaries start to lose their ability to produce progesterone, estrogen, and mature follicles.
Over the next years, there is a further decline in mature follicle production and hormone release. This causes menstrual cycle changes like the cycles becoming shorter, longer, or the cycle is skipped. Ovulation may or may not occur during a cycle as menopause nears. Menopause can be confirmed only after a woman has not had her periods for at least one full year and is between the age of 40-55.
There are 3 distinct phases of change in the climacteric phase. They are:
- Perimenopause: During this phase, it is still possible to conceive naturally and carry a baby. Doctors may recommend medical assistance like IUI, IVF, or Clomid.
- Menopause: Some women can conceive with the help of IVF with an egg donor in menopause.
- Post-menopause: After menopause, a woman no longer produces eggs and thus cannot become pregnant naturally. But although eggs succumb to this biological clock, pregnancy is still possible using a donor egg.
Preparing for Conception Over 30
The more you wait to have a baby, the more challenging it gets to conceive. The 20s is the most fertile period for women to conceive. There is a slight decline in fertility by the age of 32 and the decline increases more sharply after the age of 37. If you are unable to get pregnant after six months of well-timed intercourse without using contraception at the age of 35 and above, it is recommended that you seek the help of a fertility specialist.
Healthy fertility over 35 is going to take more effort on your part. It is important that you exercise regularly, eat well, consider seeing a fertility specialist, and reduce your poor lifestyle choices. To know where your hormone levels are having a full hormone test panel run may help. Women over the age of 35 need to focus on the following areas to increase the chances of conception:
- Improving the uterine health
- Improving the egg health
- Supporting the hormonal balance
- Strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles
- Supporting the production of cervical mucus
- Managing stress
- Properly timing your ovulation and sexual intercourse
- Improving dietary and lifestyle habits.
Medical Options for Women Trying to Conceive Over 30
If you have been trying to conceive naturally for 6 months or longer with no positive results, it is time for you to see a fertility specialist. Many women over the age of 35 may have a condition known as a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) which is completely natural and normal. It is a condition in which the ovaries lose their normal reproductive potential.
In case you have a low ovarian reserve, Clomid may be suggested for stimulating ovulation. You may have to use methods of assisted reproduction like in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), an egg from a donor, or hormonal medications. If you are planning to opt for any of the mentioned medical options, you can still follow the natural plan before those procedures. For example, you can prepare for an upcoming IVF cycle naturally. It is always encouraged that couples continue to eat well and exercise through any type of fertility treatment, regardless if it is medical or natural.
Natural Plan for Women Trying to Conceive Over 30
Various key areas need to be focused on. We have briefly covered each of them below.
The most important thing that one can do if they do not already consume a whole food diet is to switch to one. There is a vast improvement in egg health with diet changes alone. This can be done by switching to a nutrient-dense diet which includes fertility superfoods like bee propolis and bee pollen, Spirulina, whey protein powder, wheatgrass, barley, maca, and royal jelly. Supplementing with key nutrients like antioxidants, folic acid, etc. also help in increasing egg health.
If you are not sweating regularly, your body won't be able to remove excess toxins, especially xenohormones. Xenohormones are chemical toxins that cause hormonal imbalance by disrupting the endocrine system. Exercising also helps in reducing depression and fat in the body. It increases a sense of wellbeing, stamina, and strength required for labour and early motherhood.
If you plan on breastfeeding, you must cleanse as many toxins as possible from your body before conception and breastfeeding. Some great exercise ideas are:
- Fertility Yoga
- Swimming Laps
- Kegel Exercise- Kegels help in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Relaxing and contracting the pelvic floor muscles helps in keeping the reproductive organs in place. It also supports and increases vaginal, uterine, and cervical strength.
If you are planning to conceive, make sure you exercise 30 minutes a day and 5 times a week at least.
Women over 35 years of age have been exposed to more environmental toxins and therefore, have an accumulation of more toxins in the body. If they consume a poor diet and their lifestyle involves habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol and living a sedentary life, etc., there is a greater need for fertility cleansing before trying to conceive.
Fertility cleansing is a natural fertility treatment and may require the couple to take a month off of trying to get pregnant. It may feel like time is running out but you need to wait and think this through for a minute: Don’t you want to give a healthy beginning to your baby?
Cleansing is used as a natural way of keeping the body healthy and it may be very beneficial before you get pregnant. The body uses fat stores during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This goes directly into the baby. Therefore, regularly exercising and cleansing is an important step for getting rid of the body toxins while preparing for pregnancy.
Improve Egg Health
The egg count and health begins to decline around the age of 37-40. You must work towards preserving and increasing your egg health now. It is suggested to work on it for at least 3 months before beginning to try to conceive, be it naturally or through IVF or IUI.
For improving egg health, it is best to focus on boosting nutritional levels, increasing circulation, and supporting hormonal balance with vital nutrients and fertility superfoods.
Some key tips to improve your egg health:
- Eat a fertility diet which includes greek yoghurt, avocado, etc.
- Fertility cleansing
- Fertility Superfoods like royal jelly, maca, green foods, etc.
- Reduce stress
- Consuming key nutrient supplementation including an antioxidant blend, whole food multivitamin, CoQ10, etc.
Research on CoQ10 has shown that supplementation of 600 mg of CoQ10 every day by older women improves fertilization rates and egg quality.
Improve Uterine Health
There are gradual changes in hormone levels after the age of 35. Due to these changes, the uterus gradually begins to lose muscle tone. A strong uterus is a must for all women for pregnancy and the hard work required for labour.
Having a sedentary lifestyle makes it is even more important for you to improve uterine health. As we discussed earlier, Kegel exercises help in improving and preserving muscle tone of the pelvic floor and the uterus.
Castor oil packs and fertility massages are done externally on the lower abdomen. They help in improving hormonal balance, strengthening the uterus, increasing circulation to the reproductive organs, and detoxifying the tissues of the reproductive organs and the surrounding tissues. There are also specific herbs like Dong Quai, Red Raspberry Leaf, Cramp Bark, etc. that have a direct effect on the uterine tone.
Some key tips to improve uterine health:
- Fertility yoga
- Fertility massage
- Castor Oil packs
There is a decline in cervical mucus production with hormonal changes. If you are planning to conceive after 35, it is important to support healthy cervical mucus production. Women that have low or no cervical fluid face difficulty in conceiving. This is because it becomes harder for the sperm to reach the egg for conception in the absence of cervical mucus.
Key tips to support cervical mucus production:
- Drink plenty of clean and filtered water every day
- Take omega essential fatty acid supplements every day
- Try herbs that support cervical mucus production like Shatavari, Licorice root, Red Clover, etc.
- Use a sperm-friendly lubricant while having sexual intercourse. This helps the sperm in traveling to the eggs.
You must keep a check on your stress as it boosts stress hormones like cortisol. This hinders the body’s main sex hormone GnRH and also suppresses sexual activity, ovulation, sperm count, and even hormone balance. GnRH is the hormone responsible for the release of estrogen and progesterone and prolactin secretion. Therefore, when the release of GnRH is hindered, estrogen, testosterone, and libido are suppressed resulting in decreased fertility.
Key tips to manage stress:
- Fertility Yoga
- Massage Therapy
There are numerous ways in which one can manage their stress, it all depends on the person.
Chart Your Cycle
You should begin to chart your cycle. Women over the age of 32-35 only have about 10% chances of conceiving per cycle. Therefore, if you do not note your timing down, it is going to be extremely difficult for you to conceive.
You only have a 6-day window for getting pregnant, out of which you only have 2 peak days. So, you need to begin to try to conceive at least 3 days before ovulation and 2 days after that. If your male partner has poor sperm health or low sperm count, it is advised to have sex only on ovulation days. Refraining from sexual intercourse before ovulation helps in building up the sperm count of the male partner.
In most women, ovulation takes place 2 weeks before menstruation begins. Charting will help you in knowing when you may be ovulating. This will help you in finding out when you need to try to conceive.
Support Hormonal Balance
Your entire menstrual cycle depends on the hormonal balance. Without a proper balance of hormones ovulation, conception, or a healthy pregnancy cannot occur. Hormone changes occur with age. If fertility specific hormone levels are too high or too low, it can cause miscarriage or prevent conception.
Key hormones that support a healthy pregnancy are Progesterone, Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and Estradiol (E2). As you age, the changing hormone levels may interfere with conception and therefore, you must support your endocrine system as it is responsible for hormonal balance.
Most women over 35 require hormonal balance support in some way. We like to utilize herbs to help women encourage fertile hormone levels. Here are some herbs and specific herbal formulas that help women in maintaining hormonal balance:
Your Male Partner
We have focused so much on you and now, what about your male partner? If your male partner is also over 35, it is important to get him tested to determine his sperm count and quality. There are many natural ways to support healthy male fertility as well.
It is possible to conceive and have a healthy baby in the 30s. A natural plan may increase your chances of conception by maximizing uterine health, improving egg health, and maintaining proper hormonal balance. All-natural plans take time to be effective. Therefore, we suggest that you give yourself 3 months to implement a natural fertility plan. After these three months of following the plan, you can begin to try to conceive. This will give you your best possible chances at successful conception.
If you are planning on achieving pregnancy with methods like IUI or IVF or Clomid, you must discontinue any supplements or herbs you have been taking for improving your fertility. You must, however, continue to eat a nutrient-dense fertility diet. This will help you in carrying your pregnancy to term successfully.
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List of ReferencesHide
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Yangying Xu, Victoria Nisenblat, et al. “Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled trial”. Published online 2018 Mar 27, PMID: 29587861.
Ruben Barakat, Evelia Franco, et al. “Exercise during pregnancy is associated with a shorter duration of labor. A randomized clinical trial”. Published:March 06, 2018.
Emily Evans-Hoeker, David A. Pritchard, et al. “Cervical mucus monitoring prevalence and associated fecundability in women trying to conceive”. Published online 2013 Jul 11, PMID: 23850303.
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americanpregnancy.org. “Fertility Charting Basics”. americanpregnancy.org, 21 July 2020.
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Last updated on: : 28 Sep 2020