We all know that age is a significant factor in fertility. However, not as early as most fertility clinics will tell you. When clinics turn women away because they are ‘too old’ at 41 or insist on an egg donor they are basing this on their statistics taken from IVF patients, not natural conception rates in healthy populations or on you as an individual.
It is not uncommon for women to conceive naturally up to 44/45 with the right preparation. Beyond that, it does get harder but natural pregnancies have been known to happen up to 50 and when combined with ARTs well beyond that.
In terms of the question, ‘is it too late’, the short answer is this: scientifically speaking, when you’re menopausal, that’s too old.
If you’re still ovulating regularly, then you can use this program to help you balance your fertility-related systems and optimize the quality of your eggs and your partner’s sperm to help you to significantly increase your chances to get pregnant.
The main issue with someone in their 40’s is not so much the actual number. It’s not like your fertility suddenly changes on your 40th birthday. Although if you go to a fertility clinic after you’ve gone over a certain age, they will treat you as if this happened.
An important thing to understand about age and fertility is that there is a difference between your chronological age and your biological age. Your chronological age is the number of times you’ve been around the sun whereas your biological age is how old your body really is.
Your biological age is what matters most for fertility and this is something you can change. There are some people in their 20s who have a much, much older biological age than their chronological age, and there’s some people in their 40s and 50s whose biological age is still in their 20s or 30s.
This depends on a number of factors. The one you're born with is your genetics, however we now know from epigenetics that even your gene expression can be influenced. Other factors such as your lifestyle, your diet, your nutrient sufficiency, your mindset and the environmental toxins you’re coming into contact with can influence your biological age, your fertility and your offspring for better or worse.
That's why we ask some other important, age-related fertility questions including: "How is your overall health?" "What toxin exposure do you have/have you had?" "What nutrient deficiencies is your fertility being affected by?" "How is your luteal phase?" "How is your progesterone level and other hormone levels?"
One of the main factors is that someone in their 20s has lived for a shorter period of time; therefore, if they have any nutrient deficiencies, toxicities, or genetic issues, which are impacting the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate certain nutrients, the negative effects have had less time to take a toll on their fertility.
If you are in your 40s, you have 20 years more exposure to certain environmental toxins than someone in their 20’s. You’ve probably drank coffee or alcohol at some point in your life. You’ve probably taken some pharmaceutical drugs. Perhaps you smoked or even took recreational drugs.
The point is that you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to certain toxins. You’ve come into contact with heavy metals from tap water. You’ve come into contact with chemicals in cleaning products, in your personal care products, your cosmetics and from many other modern sources.
And all of these accumulate in the body. Often in our organs and our fat. So, as you get older, you’re experiencing a cumulative effect of all of these factors. It’s these factors that can influence your fertility-related body systems, the quality of your eggs and your sperm and the hormonal balance in your body.
However these things are not unchangeable. They are fluid, they are factors we can influence because your body can detox and regenerate. It can eliminate toxins. We can address nutrient deficiencies with the right foods and nutrients and get your body back in the right state to balance its systems and hormones and to produce mature, healthy eggs and healthy sperm.
Strictly speaking, the follicles that you’re ovulating through your eggs are actually older than you because they formed when you were an embryo. However, they are in their primordial state. They are in that frozen state where they can become anything but they’re nothing yet, and they’re sitting dormant. They’re dormant for all this time, and every four months, five or six of those are recruited for maturation.
As long as you’re still ovulating, and as long as you still have a cycle, you can improve the quality of the eggs that you ovulate. Even if you have anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) tests done, even if it’s low, even if the fertility clinic told you your ovarian reserve is too low and that you should use donor eggs. If you’re still ovulating those eggs, there are things you can do to improve the quality of the eggs you mature.
AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) is really not telling us anything about your ability to get pregnant and to stay pregnant or to give birth to a child. AMH values are usually only used for the fertility clinics to see what level of stimulation drugs they should give you because if the AMH is very high, high levels of fertility drugs can predispose you to hyper stimulation, which can be quite dangerous.
Whereas if the AMH level is low your ovaries will probably not react too well and they can give you high levels of drugs, but even this does not guarantee anything. It’s just one of those values that they look for to determine their procedure. However, it causes a lot of distress, and I’ve seen many clients with low AMH values who are very upset because they believe literally that they only have one or two eggs left in their ovaries, and that’s not the case.
Remember that any woman at the time of menopause still has anywhere between 500 to 1,000 eggs, which will never develop!
I try to avoid generalizations about age and fertility because it is very individual. Someone may be 48 but they may still be ovulating and still have a good cycle. And while this is not typical, we regularly have clients in their early to mid forties conceive naturally and have healthy babies after following our program. If you are in your 40’s and trying to conceive, examples should encourage you.
Women over 40 may need to be more patient and sometimes need to give the process a bit more time. This is often a challenge because women in their 40s tend to feel more rushed and like they are running out of time. They are often told by the clinic (and by conventional wisdom) that they don’t have much time.
Your chronological age is a real factor in your fertility. However I hope this shows you that a healthy natural pregnancy in the early to mid 40’s is a realistic goal for most women with the right preparation.