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Dr. Ayla Wilson, Naturopath

By Dr. Ayla Wilson, Naturopathic Physician, Bloom Family Wellness Center.

For women over 40, conceiving naturally can be a struggle.  Many women turn to synthetic hormones and IVF, but there are natural and non-invasive ways to boost your fertility. Here are 5 ways your naturopathic doctor can help you boost your fertility naturally.

 

1.  Have your thyroid tested yearly. 

Women are 5 times more likely to experience thyroid dysfunction than men, and an increased TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level can indicate hypothyroidism (inadequate thyroid hormone production).

Your TSH level should be 0.8-2.  A TSH above 2.5 can be a cause of infertility, fatigue, weight gain, and post-partum depression.  Hypothyroidism can be treated naturally through herbal medicine, vitamins/minerals, and bio-identical thyroid hormone supplementation. Comprehensive thyroid function testing should be done to monitor treatment.

 

2.  Maintain a healthy weight. 

For women over 40, an elevated body mass index (BMI>25) can reduce chances of conceiving, and increase risk for pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes, hypertension, and blood clots.  Excess fat tissue also produces estrogen, which can lead to hormonal imbalance and infertility.

Your naturopath can help design a weight-loss program that incorporates a low-glycemic diet, exercise, and hormone balance.

 

3.  Control your blood sugar. 

Women in their 40’s are at a greater risk for blood sugar imbalance and insulin resistance.  Blood sugar fluctuation coincides with high estrogen levels, cortisol imbalance, and causes weight gain, irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and infertility.

Maintain even blood sugar with a low-glycemic diet, lean protein, and fiber from vegetables.  Stay away from sugar, refined grains, and keep your carbohydrate servings small.  Your naturopath can test your blood glucose and insulin levels, and suggest natural treatments.

 

4.  Correct a progesterone deficiency.

Progesterone levels decline with age, and this corresponds with infertility and recurrent miscarriages.  The role of progesterone is to prepare the uterine lining for implantation of the fertilized egg.  A luteal phase defect (insufficient progesterone levels) can lead to short cycles (<28 days), infertility, and recurrent miscarriages due to ineffective implantation.

Bio-identical progesterone is used as a vaginal suppository to maintain a pregnancy through the first trimester, or as a transdermal cream to increase fertility if your levels are low.  Talk to your naturopathic physician first about progesterone testing and bio-identical hormones.

 

5.  Cut out the caffeine.

Caffeine causes estrogen dominance, endometriosis, breast tenderness, ovarian cysts, and infertility.  It also constricts microvasculature to the fetus which is linked to early miscarriage.

As little as 1 cup of coffee per day can reduce fertility by 55%, and 3+ cups can reduce fertility by 175%!  Before trying to conceive, kick your caffeine habit.

 

Notes for this blog:

Dr. Ayla Wilson is a naturopathic physician at the Bloom Family Wellness Center in Vancouver, Canada. She has a special interest in women’s health, fertility, and anti-aging.  In her practice, she uses bio-identical hormone therapy and natural treatments to promote successful conception, hormone balance, and healthy aging.   Visit Dr. Wilson’s website (http://draylawilson NULL.com) for more information.

17 Responses to 5 Essential Methods To Increase Your Fertility After 40, Naturally

  1. Olga says:

    Dear Dr. Ayla Wilson!
    I’m 39 and two my last cycles were anovulatory. What diet and medical tests would you advise me if I’m trying to conceive naturally?

    • Dr Ayla Wilson (http://www NULL.DrAylaWilson NULL.com) says:

      Hi Olga,

      Your cycles could be anovulatory if you are peri-menopausal, or if you have ovarian cysts. In terms of lab testing, a Day 3 FSH and LH, and a Day 21 Estrodiol and Progesterone test would give more information. It is also advisable to have some other basic blood work done that includes a fasting blood glucose (requires a 12 hour fast), ferritin (iron stores), and TSH (thyroid function).

      Even if your cycles have been anovulatory for the past 2 months, unless you have had no menses for 1 full year, you could still release an egg and have a chance at conceiving! I always recommend monitoring for fertility signs such as ovulatory pain, increased cervical mucus, and a body temperature rise around Day 14 to detect whether you may be ovulating. For more information on fertility signs and detecting anovulatory vs. ovulatory cycles, “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler is a great book. Use ovulatory predictor kits at home as well to detect release of an egg.

      In terms of diet, I recommend a whole foods diet that is high in nutrient dense foods and low in refined carbohydrates/sugars, saturated fats, caffeine, and alcohol. Choose whole grains, lean organic meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Keeping your blood sugar under control is especially important if you are carry excess weight, or have ovarian cysts as these can be triggered by blood sugar imbalance.

  2. DebJ says:

    Dr Wilson,

    I’ve gone through 5 IVF cycles without implantation; the last was summer 2013 & we have decided to stop treatment. I officially moved into menopause in Dec & my previously clockwork menses are every 2 months or so now. Did I mention I will be 51 this summer? Thyroid, glucose levels & weight are all under control. Do you really think it’s possible for me to naturally become pregnant?

    • Dr Ayla Wilson (http://www NULL.DrAylaWilson NULL.com) says:

      Deb,

      There are many potential reasons for why implantation may fail, however a common issue among women over 40 is an insufficient level of progesterone in the luteal phase. If you are peri-menopausal and cycles are now happening less regularly, progesterone could be a key factor for you. Even if you received progesterone during IVF, proper administration of bioidentical progesterone for several cycles may be required before levels are sufficient.

      As I touched on in this article, an insufficient progesterone level is known as a “luteal phase defect”, where ovulation and fertilization can possibly occur, but implantation will fail. Progesterone is essential for priming the endometrial lining for successful implantation.

      Have your Day 21 progesterone tested. The reference range can be quite broad, but between 60-90nmol/L is ideal. If you are under this range, you may want to consider vaginal bioidentical progesterone suppositories to prime your endometrial lining and maintain a pregnancy, but this type of treatment must be safely guided by a physician knowledgable with bioidentical hormone therapy.

      Given your age and peri-menopausal status, you may not have many more opportunities left, but if you are still cycling, there is still a chance you are releasing an egg, so monitor with an ovulatory predictor kit!

  3. Harris (http://harrisfisher NULL.com) says:

    Hello Ayla,

    I love your top 5 tips. I am hoping you can give me the source to your stats for coffee consumption and fertility rates. I have a number of women that I work with that fight tooth and nail to give up the coffee or strong cup of tea each day.

    Thanks,
    Harris

    • Dr Ayla Wilson (http://www NULL.DrAylaWilson NULL.com) says:

      Harris,

      While any amount of caffeine may have an effect on fertility, women who consume more than 250mg of caffeine per day (approximately 2.5 cups) are at the highest risk. Avoiding caffeine is best, but even cutting back can make a difference.

      Studies indicate the half-life of caffeine in adults is 4 hours, yet caffeine circulates in the system of newborn babies for up to 4 days! The half life of caffeine in the developing fetus is largely unknown, but high circulating levels of caffeine over the long term could be damaging to the embryo.

      What we do know about caffeine consumption in women is it causes delayed fertility, early miscarriage, and is also correlated with other gynecological disorders that can delay fertility, such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and uterine fibroids.

      There are many studies on caffeine and fertility. Here are a couple:

      Grodstein, F. et al. Relation of Female Infertility to Consumption of Caffeinated Beverages. Am. J. Epidemiol. (1993) 137 (12): 1353-1360.

      Hatch, E. and M. Bracken. Association of Delayed Conception with Caffeine Consumption. Am. J. Epidemiol. (1993) 138 (12): 1082-1092.

  4. debbie says:

    dear ayla, Iam 44 trying to conceive. My partner had low sperm count which has improved significantly with help from tcm. We are taking chinese herbs and supplements, cycles are irregular, last one 5th march. I still get signs of ovulation fertile mucus, pain etc. Do you have any adice for us please.

    • jashone says:

      Hi debbie i see you are trying to con conceive like i am i was just wondering where would i purchase the herbs you are speaking of im willing to try anything that just how bad i want to have child. will this be your first pregnancy. I have a doctors appt coming up june 5th i hope the doctor can give me a reason why i havent been able to conceive and also help me correct what ever might be the problem. Best luck to you i will keep you in my prayers.

  5. jashone says:

    im 43 years old i had my first child at age 17 he’s 26 years old now i want another child my husband and i have tried for 4 years now. why cant i conceive? do you think it’s possible? or is something wrong with me? please respond

  6. merewynne says:

    It worked for me… I just found out I’m pregnant naturally with #1 at 41!!

  7. Embryonic state: Why are Israelis obsessed with IVF treatments? – Haaretz (http://fertility-specialist NULL.org/embryonic-state-why-are-israelis-obsessed-with-ivf-treatments-haaretz/) says:

    [...] 5 Tips To Increase Fertility Over 40, Naturally | A Child After 40 [...]

  8. Opinion: Alternative healing or quackery? – CNN (http://fertility-specialist NULL.org/opinion-alternative-healing-or-quackery-cnn/) says:

    [...] 5 Tips To Increase Fertility Over 40, Naturally | A Child After 40 [...]

  9. Karlia Howard says:

    I have M.E./C.F.S finding it hard to lose the 3stone i’m over weight and work the 16 plus hours to pay the bills. I’m 42 this year in August. Is there any hope of being a Mum…..growing our own child? My partner is 46 and a drinker due to serious stress….

    Is there hope?

  10. jennifer says:

    Hello,

    I conceived my daughter naturally at age 35 after 1 year of trying. I have been trying for #2 for 4 years with no luck. I am now 41 and my husband is almost 39. I have tried IVF several times, with the last one working but sadly ending in a blighted ovum. Every doctor has said they have rarely seen a woman my age produce so many good quality eggs (29!), however many of them don’t develop and we are only left with a few to choose from. My husband’s sperm samples have been scattered, ranging from normal to low motility. I have given up on IVF and we are trying naturally. Do you have any insight/tips to help improve our chances?
    Thank you,
    jennifer

  11. Deborah Pearson says:

    I am 39, I will be 40 in a few months. We have been trying to conceive for ages. I had a miscarrige at 37 and a further miscarriage at 38, and since then no successful pregnancy. We are just so desperate. I was obese with my first two pregnancies and have lost weight with diet and exercise and am now just in the “overweight” catagory with a BMI of 30.5.

    I am trying so hard to lose the remaining weight, I am going to the gym almost every night, I have deciede to cut out caffiene and eat small portions of a healthy diet. I had my thyroid tested and it was borderline so I have been put on 25mg of Levothyroxine. My weight has been a battle all of my life! Yet I know friends who were very overweight and in the Obese range, in their 40s who had a baby – so why am I struggling?

    Next week we are going back to the clinic to see if we can start ICSI treatment. An AMG scan showed that I had reduced folicles and fluids which I was told is normal for someone my age. My partner is 29, but his sperm count was a bit low and also showed poor swimmers and some of them were abnormal shape (?) I can’t pursuade him to take any vitamins and I think he is still in some sort of denial about this anyway.

    My progesterone levels are up and down which again I have been told is normal in women my age. The nurse said i am approaching the end of my fertile life.

    However as I live in the UK we can get NHS funded ICSI but only until I am 40. I still have to meet all the criteria for NHS funded treatment, such as lose another 9lbs in the next 7 days etc. If I have not met the cirteria before next week I am going to have to whip out the credit cards and self fund.

    I am so massively stressed out by it all and I know that won’t help either. I didn’t leave it late on purpose but this is the first time I have been with someone who wants to have a child and where the relationship has been stable. Throughout my 20s I lived in bedsit and was being student, in my 30s I was in a relationship with difficulties and now at 39 almost 40 I am finally in the best position I have ever been in financially and emotionally. But I can’t stop blaming myself and I have been told by others “you shouldn’t have left it so long”.

    Anyway what can I do?

  12. Lisa says:

    I am now 39 yrs old not married yet, My cycle period has reduce to 25 days since I was 38 yrs old. What is causing this? Iam scared that if I ever decide to have kids might be a problem. Help me put back my period normal days (29 days).

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