For women over 30 who are struggling to conceive, experts have revealed 12 ways they can boost their fertility. Although it may seem obvious, Dr Phil Boyle, a consultant in reproductive medicine at the Neo Fertility, Dublin, urges couples to stay sexually active, adding being intimate at least twice a week is the best way hopeful parents can improve their pregnancy prospects.
Experts also recommend women maximise their fertility by prioritising their health via eating well and avoiding excess alcohol, which nutritionist Gaye Godkin describes as ‘the biggest anti-nutrient. They also advise women to take supplements, such as iron and zinc, which help to ensure adequate blood flow to egg cells.
How to Conceive Fast Naturally
In a piece for Healthista, experts outline how women can counteract the effects of ageing on their reproductive health. Here’s a biological fact: age is the biggest factor influencing your fertility, but your diet and lifestyle also play a key role, especially if you’re over 30.
We’ve talked to leading experts to find out what can help you increase your fertility. If you talk to medics about female fertility most will cite facts about a woman’s declining fertility after she hits 30. ‘The best way to future-proof your fertility is to have your children in your 20s and early 30s, and accept you may not conceive if you leave it until later,’ says Dr Boyle.
‘Just know that and decide where life’s priorities lie for you and make an informed decision. The single biggest factor to predictability to conceive is female age.’
So far, so scary. But while most recent figures in 2016 from the Office of National Statistics reports that the average age women have their first baby in Britain is 28.8 and a heartening 54 per cent of babies born in Britain were to women who were 30 or older.
As stated in another report is that almost a quarter of children in 2016 were born to mothers aged 35 and up. So, while we can’t escape or reverse our biological clocks, experts also agree that there are certain lifestyle and diet measures you can take to help your fertility ‘fitness’ to increase your chances of conception when you are ready.
‘Remaining fit and healthy, not smoking or taking illicit drugs, having only modest alcohol and caffeine, regular sexual health checkups to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and minimal stress will all help, but age is still key,’ says Dr Boyle.
Your body’s fertility potential is influenced by biological factors only your doctor can test for. Abnormal bleeding, poor quality cervical mucus, irregular cycles, blocked fallopian tubes and painful periods might all influence your fertility both short and long-term, Dr Boyle says.
Avoid junk food:
If you’re still eating processed foods full of junk fats, stop. If not for your waistline, then for the sake of your long-term fertility. ‘Male and female hormones are made up of fat. Cell membranes are made up of fats consumed through the diet,’ says Godkin. ‘If we consume too many trans-fats, found in margarine, doughnuts, cakes, biscuits as well as some pizza and chips, they may interfere with the delicate signalling that occurs on these membranes.’
Don’t drink excessively:
‘Possibly the biggest anti-nutrient consumed is alcohol,’ says Godkin. ‘It’s detrimental to both sperm health and female eggs, and in excess can create havoc on the very delicate female hormone system.’
Male sperm is particularly affected by the amount of alcohol consumed, she explains. ‘This is because alcohol disrupts blood glucose levels and excess circulating glucose both damages sperm cells and destroys a vital B vitamin called folate (see below).’
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? But there are very real reasons why too much caffeine has been shown to lower your chances of getting pregnant. ‘Whilst you might find a cup of coffee comforting, drinking excess caffeine can increase the production of the stress hormone adrenaline,’ says Godkin.
‘High levels of circulating adrenaline can interfere with the intrauterine environment, egg quality and male sperm production, and also depletes the body of many essential nutrients such as vitamin C, B and magnesium. ‘Women, in particular, tend to be more sensitive to caffeine and caffeinated products.
‘Drinking caffeine and sugar-laden caffeinated drinks may further increase their production of adrenaline. ‘If trying to conceive it is best to avoid or reduce your coffee consumption to one weak coffee a day and to eliminate caffeinated sugary drinks from your diet.’
When you’re trying to conceive or if you’re trying to prolong your fertility until you’re ready, getting the right vitamins and nutrients is essential. ‘Nutrition is essential for conception,’ says Dr Boyle. ‘Zinc, selenium, folic acid, B vitamins, vitamin D, omega-3 fish oils and antioxidants are all important.’
Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in the body during conception and preconception, says Godkin. ‘For example, B6 contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity while folic acid contributes to normal maternal tissue growth during pregnancy.
‘For men, diet and nutrients are a key way to influence sperm quality,’ Godkin continues. ‘Choose foods high in antioxidants especially brightly coloured fruit and vegetables which are packed full of antioxidants – beetroot, berries, orange and red vegetables are particularly good.’ For men, selenium contributes to the normal creation of sperm, Godkin asserts, and the best sources are Brazil nuts, fish and potatoes fortified with selenium.
Get enough zinc:
‘Zinc contributes to normal fertility and reproduction,’ Says Godkin. ‘Men need to produce between 40 and 300 million sperm cells to be fertile. ‘Increasing zinc levels in men has been shown to improve the structure and function of male sperm, enhancing the mobility, motility and strength needed to make the long journey through the female for fertilisation to take place.’
For women, zinc is also an essential fertility nutrient. But while it’s abundant in fish and in particular lamb, beef, shellfish and oysters, as well as pumpkin seeds, nuts and meat, it can be in short supply in the modern diet if you consume a lot of processed foods. ‘Exposure to stress, pollution and cigarette smoke can also deplete our bodies of essential zinc supplies,’ says Godkin. ‘Overheating food can also deplete its nutritional content.’
Red blood cells deliver oxygen to the cells of the body, which includes the ovaries. If they receive insufficient oxygen and iron the eggs can become less viable, says Godkin. In fact, studies have shown that lack of iron can cause anovulation, which is when a woman doesn’t ovulate as her egg may be in poor health.
‘Rich food sources of iron include, lambs liver, red meat, fish,’ says Godkin. ‘Vegetarians and vegans may need to keep a constant check on their iron levels to support conception.’
Don’t forget about folate:
Godkin said: ‘For women, it is particularly important to have the right amount of folate in your body before trying for a baby. ‘The recommendation is three months before conception — the length of time needed to achieve the necessary level in the body. ‘Green leafy vegetables contain high levels of folate but nutrients can be lost through cooking which is why supplementation is necessary.’
Take fertility fitness seriously if you’re over 35:
Here’s the biology: Women are born with a set number of eggs in the ovaries. Over the years the quantity and quality of the eggs will deplete. While we cannot do anything about the number of eggs remaining in our ovaries, we can support the development of those egg follicles as they mature.
‘An immature egg takes three to four months to mature before finally being released during ovulation,’ says Godkin. ‘The environment that this egg is immersed in influences the health and quality of the egg. ‘Changes to diet and lifestyle during this time frame may make a difference to the health and quality of the egg follicles giving you a higher chance of conception.
‘Improving diet and nutrient intake are also paramount to enhancing the circulation of nutrient-rich blood to the ovaries to support egg quality.’
Take a fertility supplement three months before you start trying:
Dr Boyle suggests women should be looking for a supplement with B vitamins, magnesium and folic acid, whilst men should ensure they are boosting the quality of their sperm with zinc, selenium and arginine. This article was originally published by Healthista and reproduced with their permission.