Guest blog by Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, RYT, a registered dietitian and yoga teacher specializing in PCOS and fertility.
Whether you’re approaching your thirties or are already well into them, you’ve likely heard some variation of the myth that once you hit 30, your eggs dry up and your chances of conceiving hover just above zero.
Yes, it’s true that our chances of conceiving do decrease as we age. But decreasing is not the same thing as becoming completely impossible. Yes, there’s a dip. But it’s a dip, not a nosedive.
A study cited in these guidelines, found women included in the study aged 30-34 years old had an 86% chance of getting pregnant within one year of trying to conceive and a 94% chance of conceiving after two years. For women 35-39, there was an 82% chance of conceiving after one year and a 90% chance of conceiving after two years. (That being said, if you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year or longer, please see a doctor. If you are 35 or older and have been trying for six months or longer, please see a doctor. Don’t wait to hit the two year mark just because of these stats.)
There’s no denying that the numbers for women in their 30s were lower than the numbers in women 19-26 years old (92% after one year, 98% after two) and 27-29 years old (87% after one year, and 95% after two years). But again, they’re not as drastic of a difference as many of us are led to believe.
And one very important thing to remember anytime you look at stats, is that the data applies to the group as a whole, not to each individual. And maybe even more importantly, those numbers apply to the study participants, not to you. Your individual risk and chances are unique to you.
Plus, we have no way of knowing what each of these participants’ lives and lifestyles looked like. There are many healthcare providers (and forms of traditional medicine) that believe the changes we see in reproductive potential as people age has less to do with their age and more to do with how they’re aging. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to support our overall well-being and stave off the effects of aging. These things, at least in theory, can have a positive impact on our fertility.
1. Schedule appointments with your providers
Think of this as your chance to get an idea of your personal health and fertility baseline. By checking in with your primary care provider, OBGYN, dentist, dietitian, therapist, and other healthcare providers, you can identify and address any underlying imbalances, conditions, and deficiencies that could undermine your goal of getting pregnant.
If you look around the internet, you might think the most important things when it comes to fertility nutrition are expensive supplements and avoiding “bad” foods. But really the most important things in nutrition for fertility are eating enough and eating a variety of foods. Eating adequate calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients gives your body the energy and building blocks it needs to support each phase of your cycle, conception, and pregnancy. A diverse diet ensures your body is getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals it needs for optimal reproductive well-being.
Many women spend years, even decades taking birth control pills. And most have no idea that the pill can increase their need for some vitamins and minerals. A diverse, nutrient-dense diet coupled with a quality multi or prenatal vitamin can help to replenish what you might have lost while being on BCPs.
At times it seems we’re so focused on food and exercise for fertility that we ignore the other very important driving factors of our overall and reproductive health. Not only do stress management and good sleep hygiene impact reproductive and overall wellness, but they also support our nutrition and physical activity goals. It’s darn near impossible to eat well and exercise when you’re worn out from stress and sleep deprivation.
Remember what I said earlier about age-related fertility not just being about your chronological age but how you age? Well, both yoga and meditation may ward off the age-related changes to DNA that can hamper your fertility. Check out Circle and Bloom’s guided meditations and Live Fertile’s fertility yoga videos to start incorporating yoga and meditation into your day.
6. No more blaming yourself for waiting
Berating yourself for waiting will only leave you feeling down on yourself. There’s no shame in postponing pregnancy while you live your life. A full life that has been well-lived is a great foundation for a sometimes bumpy fertility journey.
I hope these tips and information will help you reach your goal of having a healthy baby in your thirties.
Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, RYT is a registered dietitian and yoga teacher specializing in PCOS and fertility. In her private practice, she helps people prepare for pregnancy, balance their hormones, and increase their chances of conceiving with self-care and mind-body practices. Learn more about Kendra and work with her one-on-one by visiting her website.