Not every couple is ready to have children in their 20s and 30s, and for many, 40 or older is the right time. Unfortunately, for most women in their 40s, conceiving isn’t always easy. While some women in this age range will happily conceive rather quickly, others may struggle. After the age of 35, the quality and quantity of eggs decline rapidly, which is one reason why becoming pregnant in your 40s can be more difficult. Furthermore, there may be some months when ovulation fails to occur at all, in addition to many other challenges. If you’re trying to have a baby over 40, there are some natural ways to increase your chances of conceiving.
See your OB/GYN
The first thing that you might want to do when trying to get pregnant over 40 is to visit your OB/GYN. He or she can test your hormone levels to determine if they’re within normal range, which is essential to becoming pregnant. Your doctor will likely perform other tests to determine the quality of your remaining egg supply, in addition to other tests to help predict your chances of becoming pregnant.
Watch your weight
Many overweight and obese women get pregnant all the time, but some may experience more difficulty. Excess weight can skew hormone levels because fat cells produce estrogen, and the more fat cells you have, the higher your estrogen levels will be. High levels of estrogen can aggravate Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, endometriosis and more, all which can contribute to infertility. If you have a large amount of weight to lose before reaching your goal weight, you might find that simply losing between 5 and 10% of your current body weight is enough to normalize hormone levels enough for you to conceive.
In addition to being overweight, underweight women at any age may also experience difficulty conceiving. Periods may become irregular and ovulation may not occur, making pregnancy nearly impossible. So if you’re underweight then you may have to increase your consumption of healthy foods in order to reach a healthy weight. Your doctor can refer you to a nutritionist, if necessary, because you don’t want to overeat on unhealthy foods in order to gain weight.
Stress has the potential to hinder your ability to become pregnant. When stress hormones are produced in excess, they can interfere with estrogen and other important hormones involved in becoming pregnant. Being a workaholic is definitely not conducive to pregnancy, so ensuring that you take adequate vacation time can help immensely. Meditation, yoga, and participating in some enjoyable hobbies can be great ways to de-stress and improve your odds of becoming pregnant in your 40s–or at any age.
Clean up your diet
A healthy diet is just as important as the other factors when it comes to conceiving, regardless of age. Even if you’re at a normal weight, an unhealthy diet can skew hormones and impede ovulation. By eating a diet that includes healthy carbs, fats and protein, you can improve the state of your entire body, including your sex organs. You don’t have to necessarily go on one of the many fertility diets that are available, but doing so certainly couldn’t hurt. If you don’t want to go on a full-blown fertility diet, simply cutting out or limiting bad carbs like cookies, cakes, potatoes chips, etc, preservatives, additives and adding in more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds, good fats and healthy carbs will likely be enough to see results.
Consider taking supplements
There are many effective supplements currently on the market that can enhance a woman’s fertility in various ways. Some products that contain ingredients like CoQ10, myo-inositol, melatonin and others work to increase egg quality, balance hormones and even increase cervical mucus. Poor egg quality, which is often present in women in the 40 and older age range, can lead to infertility and miscarriage. This is why improving egg quality is so vital to successfully conceiving and having a healthy baby.
An adequate amount of egg-white cervical mucus is necessary in order to nourish and transport sperm for fertilization. Unfortunately, many women over 40 may fail to produce adequate amounts. Over-the-counter lubrication products created specifically for this problem can work wonders. When searching for the right lubricant, be sure to choose one that specifically states that it improves your chances of conceiving, because conventional intimate lubricants may actually damage sperm.
One supplement that you will definitely want to take prior to trying to conceiving is folate. Folate is an important B vitamin in its natural form, while folic acid is the synthetic version. Taking either version prior to and during pregnancy can prevent birth defects. According to various research studies, taking this essential vitamin at least 30 days prior to conception can decrease the chances of neural tube defects by as much as 70%. To increase folate through diet, you should consume more berries, bananas, beans, peas, lentils and green leafy vegetables.
While there is no guarantee that you’ll conceive naturally over the age of 40, making the recommended changes you can dramatically increase your odds. If after following all the above tips you still aren’t pregnant, you may want to start considering some other options, such as donor eggs, IUI and the many other fertility assistance options available. Even if you do become pregnant, women over 40 have a higher instance of miscarriage, so you’ll want to ensure that you see your doctor regularly and take extra-special care of yourself and your little one.