How to Boost Fertility in Your 30s (and Beyond)
More women are getting pregnant later in life. Unfortunately, infertility is also becoming more common. It’s no coincidence that both are happening at the same time.
Fertility in your 30s: the biology
It turns out that delaying pregnancy is not a new trend. The average age for first pregnancies in females has been on a steady incline since the 1970s. Today, most women are having a baby between 30 and 34.
If we consider our 20s the decade of fun and our 30s the one to settle down, this makes sense. Unfortunately, our bodies do things somewhat backwards. We’re actually born with all the eggs we’ll ever have, and they start dying off before we reach puberty. By 30, a healthy woman only has a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month she tries. By 40, that chance is less than 5 percent.
Female fertility- and pregnancy-related risks also go up after 30, and especially after 35. The chance for miscarriage, for example, increases to one in three. Other potential complications include:
- Difficulty getting (and staying) pregnant
- Genetic abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome or spinal cord defects
- Gestational diabetes
- Preterm labour
- Need for a C-section
All that to say that while there are pros to delaying pregnancy, like better financial and relationship stability, female fertility is not built to last that long. Luckily, if you’re wondering how to boost fertility in your 30s, you’ve come to the right place.
What is “ovarian reserve?”
One of the main factors affecting your chances of having a baby in your 30s (and beyond) is your “ovarian reserve". Otherwise known as a woman’s egg quantity and quality, both directly determine reproductive potential.
Ironically, women start off with 6 to 7 million eggs while they’re just a 20-week-old foetus. That number falls to 1 to 2 million by the time she’s born, and drops to 500,000 by the time she reaches puberty. From puberty to menopause, women are estimated to ovulate 400 to 500 total eggs. The rest essentially dissolve in the background.
When we talk about quality, what we’re actually referring to is DNA. In other words: is the egg’s DNA damaged? If so, there’s no reversing it. What’s done is done.
Egg quality is at its peak during a woman’s 20s and early 30s before beginning a steep decline. In fact, some women in their 20s might already have a few “damaged,” or abnormal, eggs. However, it isn’t until a woman reaches her 30s that most of her eggs become abnormal.
Luckily, a simple blood test can determine ovarian reserve and the steps needed to boost fertility. This test examines the levels of the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). Your AMH levels give doctors insight into your ovarian reserve, chances of pregnancy, and how you’d respond to certain treatments. The test also looks at the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which drives the growth of AMH and others. Knowing both levels is key to determining how to boost fertility in your 30s.
How to increase chances of pregnancy
Book a preconception appointment It’s a good idea to chat with your doctor before you start trying to conceive. General health can be closely linked to fertility, so it’s good to check in on things like your BMI and iron levels. Consult your doctor about any medications you might be taking, and ensure your partner does the same. This is also the time to rule out possible underlying health concerns, and ask about supplements to boost fertility. There are tons of over-the-counter options to consider, so make a list to talk about during your consultation.
Track your cycle
You’ll want to time sex correctly for the best chances at conceiving, which is especially important as you age. Your period might look relatively normal in your early 30s, but that’s about to change. Once it does, knowing your flow is critical if you want pregnancy success.
Men, break out the boxers
Boost male fertility (and your chances of getting pregnant) by asking your male partner to swap his briefs for boxers. Giving his nether regions enough breathing room naturally increases both sperm count and mobility, while tighter underwear can inhibit sperm production.
Have sex every other day
For those trying to conceive naturally, try to have TTC (trying to conceive) sex every two days during the female fertility window. There’s no one position that works best, so do it however you’re most comfortable. And we wish we could tell you that a female orgasm increases fertility, but there’s just no evidence to back that up.
Stay in bed after sex
Whether you crave a post-coitus cuddle or prefer to fall fast asleep, this is all the excuse you need. You don’t need to put your feet up in the air, but you will want to stay lying down for at least 15 minutes to ensure the sperm reach their destination. (You’ll also want to avoid peeing during that time.)
Adjust your foreplay
Though foreplay isn’t strictly necessary to have TTC sex, it’s always a nice bonus. However, you might have to switch out some of your go-to moves to be more TTC-friendly. Couples trying to conceive know that vaginal dryness can be a problem. Unfortunately, most over-the-counter lubricants should be avoided, since they can decrease sperm motility. Talk to your doctor about sperm-friendly lube if you think it’s something you need. And if you have fertility concerns, you’ll want to avoid oral sex, as well. It’s a myth that saliva kills sperm, but it can impair motility if the male partner has a low sperm count.
Though the jury’s out on whether or not eliminating caffeine increases fertility, it can pose a risk during pregnancy. Keep the caffeine intake to a minimum, and remember that includes teas, soda, energy drinks, and certain medications. If you want to get ahead of the game and eliminate caffeine while trying to conceive, Premama’s Energy Boost Drink Mix in watermelon is a great caffeine-free substitute.
How to boost fertility naturally
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Turns out, it can boost fertility, too—particularly if you have underlying fertility issues. Studies have found that women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) ovulated more when they consumed the majority of their calories at breakfast. So, if you have fertility issues, a bigger breakfast could improve your chances of getting pregnant. Just remember to cut the calories elsewhere to avoid unnecessary weight gain, which could be a hindrance.
If you’re on the hunt for breakfast recipes to boost fertility, you can find a list of ingredients to include (and ones to avoid) below.
Foods that increase fertility
Unsaturated fats, whole grains, fruits, veggies—you get the idea. The healthier, the better. That being said, don’t stress about making drastic dietary changes. As long as you (and your partner) abstain from too much sugar and saturated fat, you should be good to go.
It turns out fiber isn’t just for keeping us regular. One study found that women in their 30s were 44 percent less likely to experience ovulatory infertility just by eating 10 grams more cereal fiber every day. It’s worth noting, however, that opinions are mixed on whether or not increased fiber does help. As always, consult your doctor to see if you’re getting the right amount of fiber to increase fertility naturally.
Folate, one of the B-vitamins, is an essential nutrient needed for the development of red blood cells and DNA production. Women who don’t get enough folic acid could give birth to a baby with a neural tube defect. Women in their 30s are already at an increased risk of having babies with genetic abnormalities, but a diet rich in folic acid can help ensure fetal development goes well.
Foods to avoid
Trans fats should be avoided, since they have a negative effect on insulin sensitivity. Studies have found that women and men with higher blood sugar levels experienced greater risk for fertility challenges. Stick to eating healthy fats every day if you want to boost fertility.
Refined carbs, which just so happen to be our favourite kind, are actually super high in sugar. They also get absorbed quickly, resulting in blood sugar and insulin spikes. This can cause the body to produce fewer hormones, like the hormones needed to help our eggs mature and ovulate. Since female fertility is heavily dependent on ovarian reserve (especially in our 30s), it’s best not to mess with it.
Alcohol has been shown to drastically affect the quality, motility, and volume of sperm, as well as the quantity and quality of a woman’s ovarian reserve. It leads to inflammation and dehydration within the body, which can damage crucial internal organs as well as your gut microbiome. Keeping your gut microbiome stable and healthy is crucial to both male and female fertility.
Though most experts advise against alcohol altogether—especially once you’re actually pregnant—studies have found that consuming less than 14 units a week has little to no negative impact on female fertility. More than that, though, and it could spell trouble.
Will vitamins increase fertility?
It’s always best to speak with your doctor before introducing anything to your system in an effort to increase fertility. Depending on your individual needs, your doctor may advise that you take fertility boosting vitamins and supplements, like Premama’s easy-to-swallow Prenatal Vitamins.
These are some of the key nutrients in supplements to increase fertility in females over 30:
- Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro-Inositol
- Vitamin D
- Fish Oil
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
Lifestyle changes to boost fertility
Smoking is bad for you, period. But to put it in perspective, smokers’ pregnancy chances are half those of non-smokers. (So, put out the cigarette if you want to get pregnant.)
Start an exercise routine
Regular exercise is good for your overall health, and the science says it can increase your chances of conception, too. Exercise brings several benefits, including:
- boosting endorphins
- reducing stress
- maintaining a healthy weight
- improving sleep quality
Doctors recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise that leaves you slightly breathless, five days a week. Other studies have shown that four hours of vigorous exercise weekly can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Get a good sleep
A healthy body is a rested body, so improve your chances of getting pregnant by first getting a good night’s sleep.
If you want to know how to increase fertility, this is the place to start. In the same way stress affects general and mental health, it can also impact fertility, so aim to be as zen as possible while trying to get pregnant.
The bottom line
It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all guide on how to boost fertility in your 30s. Beyond doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle, the best advice will come from your doctor. Do your research and if age is a concern, ensure both partners ask for help sooner rather than later to increase fertility chances.