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Harris Fisher, Dr. of Chinese Medicine

By Harris Fisher, Dr. of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yinstill Reproductive Wellness Clinic, Vancouver.

If you’re over 40, the choice to start or add to your family will often be met with disheartening statistics, repetition of risk factors, and a refusal by medical practitioners to work with you towards your goal. Getting the support you need and the proper advice can be difficult.

Chinese medicine offers a time tested tradition of treating fertility and preventing miscarriage with natural methods that focus on you as an individual.

 

If it is just genetics, what can you do?

The most common cause of miscarriage for couples who conceive after the age of 40 is a genetic defect. This is just as much the result of the male as it is the female. We know that genes can be turned on and off based on the environment and the cellular messages received.

Providing the optimal environment, establishing the correct communication routes and sending the proper messages is something we have control over. To assist in carrying a healthy baby to term it is important to:

  • Believe in your fertile potential; stop worrying about what if’s
  • Provide time for your body to rest and regenerate
  • Reduce or avoid stress
  • Nourish your body

 

A healthy baby is possible throughout your fertile years

If you experience a regular menstrual cycle you are still fertile. Embrace where you are in your journey and use the wisdom and strength that you have accumulated up till this point. You are wiser and you know who you are. Focus on the present and hold that space for your child. Worrying will only keep the mind busy and rob your reproductive organs of nourishment.

 

Take time to regenerate

Getting enough good quality sleep might be the single most important thing you can do for your health. Aim for 7 ½  to 9 hours each night. Are having trouble sleeping, either falling asleep or staying asleep? Chinese medicine can help.

 

Reduce stress

The hormones released when you are under stress (especially chronic) inhibit the communication between your brain and reproductive organs. Take time each day to breathe and release your tension. Choose a good book instead of television, shows are designed to trigger you and keep you engaged. Acupuncture once or twice weekly is beneficial for restoring proper communication and relieving the effects of stress.

 

Herbal medicine to nourish and stabilize pregnancy

The formula Tai Shan Pan Shi San (Powder to achieve the stability of Mount Tai) is just one example of a famous formula for treating threatened miscarriage. It is especially useful for women of advanced maternal age and is quite nourishing. An individualized formula can be made up for your specific constitution and concerns.

 

 Notes for this blog:

Dr. Harris Fisher is a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Yinstill Reproductive Wellness (http://yinstill NULL.com/) clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia. His practice focuses on the treatment of fertility, pelvic pain and menstrual disorders. Harris also provides complimentary care to woman and couples undergoing assisted reproductive techniques (IVF, ICSI, IUI) and is a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). http://yinstill.com/ (http://yinstill NULL.com/)

44 Responses to How To Reduce Your Miscarriage Risk After 40

  1. Lisa Williams says:

    Avoid worrying, avoid stress are good advice under any circumstances and for any reasons but they will not decrease your odds of miscarriage. I suffered my third (and to me most heartbreaking) miscarriage after I had gone on vacation and done nothing more strenuous than take long, slow walks along the beach, cherishing the knowledge that I was pregnant. At age 41, having suffered two prior pregnancy losses my odds of success were next to nothing but still I hoped that I could beat the odds. Good luck to all who try and my congratulations to all that do but the fact remains that achieving a healthy pregnancy after the age of 35 gets a lot rarer and that pregnancy in general becomes a lot riskier for women. (odds of eclampsia and HELLP go up as well as gestational diabetes and other complications.)

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

      Hello Lisa, thank you for your comments and I am truly sorry for your loss. You are absolutely right that getting pregnant and carrying a healthy pregnancy to term are more difficult after the age of 35. Reducing stress levels and avoiding worrying is something any expecting mother would want to do. The effects of stress are detrimental to a pregnancy at any age and by adding the extra worry of possible complications and one’s increased risk of these will only add stress to the body. The knowledge and awareness of the increased risks is important but worrying and depleting your body in doing so does not serve your body well.

  2. Joanne says:

    Do you have any percentages of women over 40 years of age that have healthy pregnancies and carried to term?

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

      Hello Joanne,

      Thanks for your comment. I don’t tend to put a lot of stock into percentages and I don’t think knowing them helps. I prefer to work with the individual and support the body in every way that we can to hopefully achieve a healthy pregnancy of full term.

    • Emily otwabe says:

      dear Joan.
      Thanks so much for being helpful.
      I have a friend who got married six months ago and she has had two miscarriage.
      She is 38 years old. Please help her.

  3. CP says:

    Is it advisable to take Dang Shen (Codonopsis Root) when pregnant? I was advised to drink Dang Shen, red dates and goji soup. However, my gynae asked me to stop taking Dang Shen as it may promote bleeding. I was having spottings throughout my previous pregnancy which ended in premature contractions and late miscarriage when I was 5 month pregnant. At first, my gynae suspected infection but the tests came back negative. I was 43 year old.

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

      Hello CP,

      Thanks for your question. I am sorry for your loss. Losing a pregnancy at any stage is quite devastating, and more so that far along. Dang Shen is generally quite safe during pregnancy. It may be possible that it was confused with Dang Gui (Angelica) or Dan Shen (Salvia), both of these do move blood and would be avoided during pregnancy for this reason. I would not suspect Dang Shen as a contributing factor in your loss.

      When prescribing herbs, even if they are just for soup, it is best to tailor the ingredients for the individual. Dang Shen is used for those that tend to have low energy or immunity, weakened digestive capabilities and are in need of additional nourishment.

  4. TJ says:

    Dear Harris, what is your opinion please on eating meat. I have been diagnosed by my Chinese Dr as being yin and yang deficient with liver stagnation. She recommends that I eat organic grass fed red meat twice a week and a little chicken or fish every day. I have been doing this and feel stronger. However there is much advice on the internet about cutting out red meat altogether, even poultry, and eating an alkaline diet (inc juice cleansing regularly) to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy. What is your opinion?

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

      Hello TJ,

      Thanks for your question. The decision to eat meat or not really depends on your constitution and dietary habits prior to conceiving. In Chinese medicine terms we see meat as a more direct way of accessing the raw materials needed for the production of vital energy and blood. During pregnancy, the demand for blood production increases. If you were a vegetarian prior to conceiving and your lab results indicate that your iron is optimal (not just in range) then continuing that diet would make sense. Starting a new diet that is vastly different then your previous eating habits once you are pregnant can be an added stress on the body and may not be well tolerated.

      I would recommend against doing a juice cleanse while you are pregnant. The focus should be on nourishment and not depleting the body. Prior to conceiving it can be very beneficial. Eating more on the alkaline side is better for immunity and digestive health.

      Portion size and quality are two very important things to consider when eating meat. Free range, grass fed meats are the best choice. If the animals are also raised on organic land then even better. I also recommend that you also get the bones and make bone broths for added nourishment of vitamins and minerals.

      Since you feel that your energy levels have improved and you feel stronger, you probably needed the extra nourishment. Your Chinese doctor will be able to advise you on further dietary suggestions and modifications that are right for you as an individual. I would encourage you to also ask her if juicing would be right for you. For some it is too cooling and too cleansing.

      • TJ says:

        Thank you very much for your most helpful reply Harris. I have also enjoyed reading your replies to others’ questions. TJ

  5. Carolyn says:

    Another comment on the avoiding stress thing..that is made much harder if you already have a child who is around 24/7! :) We did acupuncture and Chinese medicine in our quest for a second child. It took 6.5 years and 5 miscarriages but we finally had our little miracle. Not to disagree, but the pregnancies that had genetic defects could obviously not be fixed by those methods. The one where we just abandoned ourselves to the random chaos of the universe and didn’t do much more than eat healthy, take vitex and try to relax, was perfect and successful…So it goes….

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

      Hello Carolyn,

      Thank you for your comments and congratulations on your little miracle.

  6. Kirsten Johnson (http://www NULL.balancedrockhealing NULL.com) says:

    I had my daughter at age 46. I had early labor symptoms. My traditional Chinese medicine doctor gave me a custom blend for “nourishing and calming the womb and me”, which I took throughout the pregnancy, and I received acupuncture every other week. I attribute that, and yes, maintaining a calm and very healthy lifestyle to carrying to term with my circumstances (I found out later I was estrogen dominant, which can cause pre-term labor.) Note that I never had to be on bed-rest, but I did get a lot of rest throughout my pregnancy. Though not a guarantee, I agree with Dr. Fisher, that Chinese medicine and reduced stress/activity can and do help woman to carry to term. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but I thoroughly believe that there are very powerful, natural methods available to women for pregnancy support.

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

      Thank you for your comments Kirsten and congratulations to you as well.

      It is true, there are no guarantees with medicine, be it natural or otherwise. I am glad you were able to get the support you needed during your pregnancy.

  7. Ketty (http://yahoo NULL.com) says:

    Hello,
    I did acupuncture and my cycle stopped for 70 days. I stopped and it came back but has been getting unpredictable. I do want a baby and have fibroids. What would you recommend?

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

      Hello Ketty,

      That is an uncommon outcome from acupuncture treatment. There may be some other factors that might require further investigation. A combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be quite good for treating fibroids depending on their size and location.

      I would recommend having a day 3 blood test to check your FSH and estrogen levels, as well as thyroid function. These are a good starting point and can highlight an imbalance that may need attention. Once you have these results, follow up with a doctor of Chinese medicine who works with fertility and together you can create a plan that will be tailored to you.

      All the best,
      Harris

  8. Annell (http://achildafter40) says:

    Hello, I just turned 40 years old, and my husband and I decided to have a second child. I am health, ovulating every month, and not to waist time, we are checking ovulation to do it at the right time. The only thing is my husband is 54 ( health ). Will that make any higher the chances of a Miscarriage ?
    Thanks

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

      Hello Annell,

      Thanks for your question. When both parents are over the age of 35 the risk is increased but there is still a good chance that you will have a healthy baby and carry to term. So if you are both in good health and this is a good time for you to have another child then I would try.

      Take care,
      Harris

  9. Lauren says:

    I am 42 and trying to conceive our first child. I had a missed miscarriage 18 months ago and since then my cycles have changed. My cycles were always 27-28 days but now they can be as short as 20, or as long as 35 days. I see an acupuncturist every other week, and have been diagnosed as being yang deficient, blood deficient and kidney yin deficient. I am also prescribed herbs to take during the follicle phase and luteal phase – for threatened miscarriage. Recently my acupuncturist felt that my pulse was very slippery and it remained slippery for 2 weeks. Both urine and blood tests have confirmed that I am not pregnant but I’m now on CD40 and my period will not start. I’m feeling a little bit worried about this being another missed miscarriage. My acupuncturist prescribed the formula ‘Tao Hong Si Wu Tang’ to get my cycle started again. I’m also doing self-fertility massage, but nothing is ‘moving’. Do you have any suggestions you might share? Or do you know on average how long this should take to get my cycle going?

    • Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

      Hello Lauren,

      Thanks for your question. Getting an ultrasound might be a good course of action to determine if there was implantation this past cycle and a missed miscarriage. Another possibility is that ovulation did not take place this month and instead came quite late in your cycle. An ultrasound would give more information on this as well.

      Generally the formula Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is quite gentle, especially if it is in a prepared form such as pills or capsules. Although its actions are to move blood stasis it is not strong enough to force out blood if the body is not ready, herbs in this formula will work more to support the natural process of expelling what is stuck.

      Talk to your acupuncturist about your concerns and consider getting an ultrasound to better understand what has taken place with this cycle. A slippery pulse can be present with other body states, not just pregnancy.

      Take care,
      Harris

      • Lauren says:

        Hello Harris, Thanks so much for your reply! Now I understand why the formula has not been working to start my period. I’ve already had two ultrasounds and my uterus looks clear. I will go and have a third just to make sure. I’ve started drinking parsley tea and hope that will be stronger.

  10. Tina says:

    Hello Harris,

    I am at age 44 and i have a son at age 9. I know there is more risk for miscarriage after age 40. I had teo miscarriage one in last month and one 1 and half year ago. I do not know if i can do something about that or should i forget it and do not take any risk. I surrfed in the internet and i found your site. I appreciate if you can help me with this matter. It bothers me a lot when my son is asking me for another brother or sister.

    • Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

      Hello Tina,

      The decision to keep trying can be difficult. If you are still having regular menstrual cycles and can confirm you are ovulating with the use of LH strips (Ovulation predictor kits are good too) then I would recommend trying. I would do so with support though. If you would like to discuss how Chinese herbal medicine could help please send me an email ‌harris@‍yinstill.com (‌harris null@null ‍yinstill NULL.com) or give me call 604-873-9355

      All the best,
      Harris

  11. Leticia says:

    I had a miscarriage at 20 weeks on sept 1,2013. I am 42years and conceived naturally by accident, but now want to try again. I bled throughout the entire pregnancy. I have a fibroid which had grown from 1 cm to 6cm I was told during the pregnancy. I Want to try again but am afraid of the risk of miscarriage or abnormalities. I just don’t Wany the last experience to be my last experience with pregnancy.I really want another child.should I try again? It has never been easy for me to get pregnant. So the last time seemed like itwas meant to be I didn’t have a good Dr it seemed like didn’t Care. What do you recommend.

  12. Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

    Hello Leticia,

    I am so sorry to hear of your miscarriage. The first thing you would want to do is check to see if you still have a fibroid as well as the size and location. An ultrasound will be able to give you this information.

    As I suggested with the post from Tina above, if continue to have regular menstrual cycles and can confirm you are ovulating with the use of LH strips (Ovulation predictor kits are good too) then I would recommend that you can keep trying. I would do so with support though. If you would like to discuss how Chinese herbal medicine could help please send me an email ha‌rris@‍yinstill.com (‌harris null@null ‍yinstill NULL.com) or give me call 604-873-9355. I may also be able to suggest someone in your area if you do not reside in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    Take care,
    Harris

  13. Learn How To Decrease Your Chances of Miscarriage After 40 (http://gettingpregnantafter40 NULL.net/learn-how-to-decrease-your-chances-of-miscarriage-after-40/) says:

    […] See full story on achildafter40.com […]

  14. Melanie Walsh says:

    I’m 41 and going through my first miscarriage as I type this. I have 3 healthy children 17,11 and 2 and was so happy to find I was pregnant again so as you can imagine my partner and I are heart broken.
    I would dearly like to try again for another child however am very disheartened as I feel this my have been my last chance due to my age. They say at 41 I have only a 5% chance each month of getting pregnant which means its going to take at least 20months and by then I will be 43 and then it’s a 1% chance each month so all in all I feel devistated that I’ve just run out of time.
    Can you suggest any herbal remedies that can possibly increase my chances of achieving a viable pregnancy and can you suggest any remedies that will assist in reducing the risk of miscarriage?
    Also are there any remedies my partner can take to help in conceiving a healthy baby?

    • Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

      Hello Melanie,

      I am truly sorry you are experiencing a miscarriage, you must be heart broken. Don’t let this discourage you though and try to ignore the statistics, they are misleading, defeating and are not of benefit when trying to conceive. Statistics are used by researchers and people trying to sell their services. You have a 100% chance of becoming pregnant in the month that you do conceive :-) That one sounds better right?
      It is true that your chances decline with age. That just means it may take longer to conceive, and not every pregnancy will be viable. What you do have control over is your health and providing the optimal environment for success.
      I do highly recommend that both you and your husband visit a Chinese medicine doctor in your area (you can come see me if you are in Vancouver) and get an individualized treatment plan that will incorporate an herbal formula designed for you and your unique pattern (based on their diagnosis). For a list of qualified practitioners in the United States and Canada that have chosen to focus on fertility visit the American Board of Reproductive Medicine http://www.aborm.org (http://www NULL.aborm NULL.org)

      Keep trying,
      Harris

  15. Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

    Hello Susan,

    I am so sorry to hear that you just had a miscarriage, that is so unfortunate. I admire your perseverance and completely agree that you should keep trying.

    Since you are still nursing your daughter I would take a pause from trying to conceive. Although many women do conceive while they are nursing, I feel that the process of producing milk and nursing is depleting on your body and releases the hormone prolactin which interferes with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). This could be affecting the quality of the eggs being released each cycle, the length of your cycle and potentially the ability for your body to remain pregnant.
    I recommend taking this time while you are still nursing to build up your body with nourishing herbal soups, a vitamin regime that is pro-fertility, and incorporating exercise that stimulates your muscles but does not exhaust you.
    You will want to a Doctor of Chinese medicine in your area that can prescribe an herbal formula that fits your particular pattern and is right for you. I would also recommend your husband get on a similar program. It takes two to conceive a child, his sperm quality is just as important for ensuring your next pregnancy is a success.
    To find a local practitioner that can assist you, visit http://www.aborm.org (http://www NULL.aborm NULL.org) It is the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and has a listing of certified practitioners throughout the United States and Canada.
    All the best,
    Harris

  16. Amelie Case says:

    Hello, I am 44 and still having regular periods. I had a healthy son at 40. I know I ovulate some of the time, and in fact I am pretty sure I’ve been pregnant a couple of times but miscarried very early (a few days after normal last day of cycle). But my periods are getting lighter and lighter– I used to bleed for 3 days heavily, and two days lighter. Now I bleed for less than 24 hours moderately heavily, and spot for 1-2 days after that. I am afraid because of this change I am not producing a uterine lining that can sustain a pregnancy. Can you recommend ways to lengthen and strengthen menstruation, and build uterine lining? Thank you.

    • Amelie Case says:

      Hello, I am 44 and still having regular periods. I had a healthy son at 40. I know I ovulate some of the time, and in fact I am pretty sure I’ve been pregnant a couple of times but miscarried very early (a few days after normal last day of cycle). But my periods are getting lighter and lighter– I used to bleed for 3 days heavily, and two days lighter. Now I bleed for less than 24 hours moderately heavily, and spot for 1-2 days after that. I am afraid because of this change I am not producing a uterine lining that can sustain a pregnancy. Can you recommend ways to lengthen and strengthen menstruation, and build uterine lining? Would Tai Shan Pan Shi San be effective for this? Thank you.

      • Harris (http://www NULL.yinstill NULL.com) says:

        Hello Amelie,

        Thank you for your question and your story.

        It is very normal that a menstrual cycle will change once a woman has been pregnant. If this change in your cycle has been more recent and not as a result of pregnancy then this would be something that I would consider needs some investigating and possibly some support to restore menstrual flow if it is insufficient.

        It certainly sounds like some herbal medicine support would be of benefit. Tai Shan Pan Shi San might be a good choice for after ovulation but I would also look at a customized formula for the follicular phase of your cycle which is when the uterine lining does most of its growth.

        You will want to have a consultation with a Doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine so that they may formulate a prescription specific to your needs. They will assess your overall health and balance, look at your tongue, take your pulse and customize a treatment plan to help you achieve your goal.

        Take care,
        Harris

    • Amelie Case says:

      Would Tai Shan Pan Shi San be effective for building uterine lining?

  17. Helen says:

    I’m 43, 7 weeks pregnant without trying, obese and nursing a two year old
    . I’ve had some very light spotting for about a week with no cramping. I think my milk has already reduced a lot. What do you suggest for me? At the moment I’ve been trying to moderately lose weight while I can. Does weight loss increase the chance of losing the baby?

  18. Georgina says:

    Dear Harris,
    I am 40, and have just suffered my fourth miscarriage in under two years. All of them occurred before 7 weeks. The first two were missed miscarriages and I had uterine surgery to correct a small septum and remove a polyp. We were so hopeful, but have lost two more babies since. Tests for clotting disorders, thyroid function, and immune disorders all came back normal. My doctor now thinks I’m not producing enough endometrium for successful implantation. I’ve read that acupuncture and certain herbs can help this?

  19. Lisa says:

    Four weeks ago, I went to the doctor and the baby was measuring 7 weeks, 1 day, and had a heartbeat of 156. I was 8 weeks 2 days by my last period date. Today at my appointment, the baby was measuring only 9 weeks and there was no heartbeat. I have chosen to wait it out, at least for another 2 weeks, and take it from there. Is there anything that can be done to prevent that type of loss from happening? I had one like it before, when I was 25/26. I’m 43 now. I had no issues with my previous pregnancy at all. This time my progesterone level came back as 25, whereas last pregnancy it was 46. Could that have contributed?

  20. Mirriam says:

    Hi I was just surfing the Internet when came a cross this page I’m a South African woman age 40 turning 41 next month I have 2 girls but me & my husband have been trying for the 3rd child to compete our family, I have had 3 miscarriages in a year & we still wish to try again & you are giving me hope about this Chinese herbs but I need to know where in South Africa can I get these herbs & which would be the perfect medication for me to take according to my history, please help we really need this child

  21. Mar says:

    Hi Harris
    I’ve enjoyed reading everybody’s questions/comments as well as your reply. I turned 40 a couple months ago and have had around 6 miscarriages over the past 6 years. I have a healthy 7 year old and just tested positive yesterday! I plan on making dr appt this week but was hoping you could help me with any advice on preventing another miscarriage. I’ve been wanting this baby for so long I’m scaring myself to death.

  22. SELENA says:

    I am 41, soon to be 42, on my third miscarriage in under a year. I have been going to a fertility clinic, getting acupuncture, been on progesterone, blood thinner and taking all of my vitamins. I don’t have any trouble getting pregnant, my problem is keeping the baby. I am out of options and do not know what to do next. My husband and I really want to have our own baby. I know there are many women in their 40’s that have healthy babies. Help!

  23. Patricia Forrester says:

    I am going through a miscarriage as I type. Where in Jamaica can I get the Chinese herb or the help I need for me to get pregnant. I am 41 and my fiance is 24.

    Thanks.

  24. Salah says:

    Dr. Harris

    My wife is 39 years old has many trials IVFs. In the beginning sucess were always there with many pregnancies but most of them ended with early deliveries or miscarriages. We had only IVF trail 100% successful with baby boy he is now 4 years old. We had 2 trails after first had only sack but no pulse and second no pregnancy at all even though embryos returned were 4 class 1. Doctors said that the problem is the the thin uterine between 6 and 7 and does not develop thicker even with medications such as estrogen and doctors said very hard to have uterine get thicker especially with several cleaning operations to remove sacks. What do you suggest that we can do? My age her husband is 46 years old.

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