What are your chances of getting pregnant at 38+?
Before I dive into the grim statistics, which no doubt you are already familiar with (if you’ve spoken to your gynecologist ), I want to let you know that the majority of causes which lead to age related infertility can be treated naturally. If you look at the statistics your chances of getting pregnant at 38 and over are not that great. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in the UK reported that: “At 35 you’re half as fertile as when you were at 25; at 40 you’re half as fertile as when you were 35″ (HFEA 2005/6:12).
Some of the most common reasons blamed for the decline in fertility are:
- Diminished ovarian reserve
- Hormonal imbalances which can predispose you to irregular cycles and thinning of the endometrium.
- Changes in cervical mucus making it more hostile to the sperm.
- Poorly managed chronic conditions such as PCOS, endometriosis, excess weight, diabetes, hypothyroidism.
- Asymptomatic infections such as chlamydia.
The good news is most of those can be treated naturally just as effectively at 38+ as they can at 30. Let’s discuss each in turn.
- Diminished ovarian reserve. You are born with all of your eggs in their primordial form. Every 111 days a new batch of those primordial cells starts maturing so that one or two may be ready for ovulation and fertilization. The factor that influences your chances of getting pregnant is not so much whether you’ve got one or two eggs left (you are born with millions) but the quality of the egg once it’s gone through the maturation process. This is a bit like Lego. Your body uses specific building blocks (nutrients) to make the egg ready for ovulation. The trick here is that when your body carries xenosetrogens, phthalates, heavy metals, pesticides and a host of other toxic chemicals and free-radicals — nutrients get depleted and displaced and hormones get disordered. Hormones are like conductors of a grand orchestra. They call the shots and tell cells what to do. Now if they are confused they’ll send the wrong message to the cells, which will behave differently to the way they should. The same applies to the nutrients. Did you know that some heavy metals will displace specific nutrients and sit in their position in a cellular matrix? Imagine what that means to an egg or sperm cell — poor quality and poor functionality. So the key here to boosting your chances of getting pregnant at any age is to optimize your egg health at least three to four months before conception.
- Hormonal imbalances. As touched upon above, when our body carries inside a host of substances known as endocrine disruptors, hormonal chaos ensues. Over time this leads to small imbalances of your reproductive and metabolic hormones. This in turn leads to irregular cycles and undernourished and thin endometrium. And fortunately it too can be effectively addressed with specific nutrients, herbs and dietary and lifestyle changes. And again this will increase your odds of getting pregnant.
- Changes in cervical mucus. Mucus fluctuates together with hormones as it’s secretion is orchestrated by estrogen and progesterone. If your cycles are irregular, which is a sign of hormonal imbalance, than your mucus secretions will also be irregular. In addition specific dietary habits can make your mucus less viscous and more acidic leading to a more hostile mucus for the sperm which in turn will lower your chances of getting pregnant.
- Chronic conditions. PCOS, endometriosis, diabetes type II, obesity and subclinical hypothyroidism fall into the chronic condition category for some of which lifelong medication seems to be the only answer. It is also the chronic conditions which are best managed with natural therapies and medicines and where naturopathy excels conventional treatments. That’s what we are good at – successfully treating and managing chronic conditions without the need for drugs. Each of theses conditions has a specific protocol which when properly followed eliminates the symptoms in most cases. Once you are symptom free, you are condition free. So if you have one of these conditions look into natural treatments asap.
- Asymptomatic infections. Chlamidia, among others, belongs to the group of pathogens which affect the reproductive system. Both men and women can carry it. It is one of the easiest things you can test for and fairly straight forward to treat. Yet, untreated it can eliminate your chances of getting pregnant and predispose your risk of miscarriages. No one likes to think that they may have an STD, but the reality is 1 in 5 Americans have an STD and nearly 80% of those who are infected don’t know it (Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC : National Academy Press). Today there are at least 25 identified STD’s, many of which are asymptomatic.
Taking all of this into account, yes if you do nothing for your health and wellbeing your chances of getting pregnant at 38+ and over are diminished. But if you optimize your health and fertility before conception your chances of getting pregnant can suddenly can look much better, as most of the common causes of age-related infertility can be addressed and successfully treated. Are you wondering what you chances of getting pregnant are? Have you already started trying to conceive? Are you considering optimizing your health and fertility first? Let me know!
© 2011 Iva Keene and Natural Fertility Prescription