age and fertility

DOES MY AGE AFFECT MY FERTILITY?

We have defined infertility, its causes and male contribution to it (insert link). However, there are various other factors that contribute to infertility, age is one of them.

HOW DOES AGE AFFECT A WOMAN’S ABILITY TO BECOME PREGNANT AND SUSTAIN A PREGNANCY?

A woman’s age is one of the most important factors affecting her ability to conceive and give birth to a healthy child. This is due to several changes that are a natural part of ageing.

  • The number and quality of eggs (ovarian reserve) for example naturally decreases from the time a woman is born until the time she attains menopause. This decline is gradual until her early thirties but accelerates quickly after her mid-30s.
  • It is not only more difficult to get pregnant, but miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities in the child e.g. Downs syndrome are more common in older mothers.
  • Fibroids, endometriosis, and tubal diseases are more common and can affect fertility.
  • Women who become pregnant at an older age have a higher risk of complications during the pregnancy such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF REPRODUCTION?

The Reproductive years

The first menstrual period usually occurs around the age of 12. Periods may be irregular at first but should become regular over the next couple of years. Fertility peaks from the late teens through the late 20s and then begin to decline by the age of 30.

The chances of miscarriage increases while that of conception decreases.

Menopausal Transition

Usually, when a woman is in her 40s, she will begin to transition from the reproductive years to the menopausal state. The length of the menstrual cycle will start to vary and she may begin to skip periods.

A woman may experience hot flashes due to a decreased estrogen production by the ovaries and may have difficulty sleeping. Pregnancy is rare but not impossible. The average age of the final menstrual period (menopause) is age 51.

Post Menopause

After menopause, pregnancy is no longer possible. Ovaries produce very little estrogen, which results in vaginal dryness and bone loss. Hot flashes intensify and then begin to subside. Hormone therapy or other treatments may be appropriate for short-term use.

HOW DOES REPRODUCTIVE AGEING AFFECT FERTILITY?

By age 40, many women will not be able to have a successful pregnancy. By age 45, very few women will be able to have a successful pregnancy. This happens because both the quality and quantity of eggs remaining in the ovaries gradually declines throughout life, and this decline accelerates beginning around age 35.

Age is the best indicator of egg quality. The decreasing quantity of eggs in the ovaries is called ‘’’loss of ovarian reserve’’. Women begin to lose ovarian reserve before they become infertile and before they stop having regular periods.

Women with poor ovarian reserve have a lower chance of becoming pregnant than women with normal ovarian reserve in their same age group.

HOW DOES AGE AFFECT A MAN’S ABILITY TO IMPREGNATE A WOMAN?

A decrease in a man’s fertility appears to occur later in life than that of a woman. By their mid to late 40s, men experience changes in their sperm that can cause issues with fertility and chromosomal/developmental problems.

WHEN SHOULD WE START ASKING QUESTIONS?

If the woman is younger than the age of 35, the couple should ask for a fertility evaluation if they have not been able to conceive after one year of trying (unprotected intercourse). Couples where the woman is older than 35 should seek evaluation if they have not been able to conceive after six months.

IS THERE A MEDICAL APPROACH TO IMPROVE MY FERTILITY?

Yes, there are medical strategies that can increase the chances of conception. They are focused upon getting the egg and sperm together at the best time for conception to occur. These strategies can include intrauterine insemination (IUI), In vitro Fertilization (IVF), or taking fertility medications. These approaches may be helpful, but they cannot reverse the natural ageing process of the egg or sperm.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO SLOW DOWN OR REVERSE REPRODUCTIVE AGEING?

No. However, eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking and adopting a lifestyle that reduces stress can improve your overall health.

Studies suggest that smoking, diet and stress may have an impact on the quality of eggs/sperm and may accelerate menopause. However, despite our best efforts to slow down or reverse the process, improved health does not offset the natural age-related decline in female fertility, which can take place much sooner than most women expect.

5 Steps to Become Healthy & Vibrant

Looking to take your health to the next level? Here are my suggestions to help you optimize your vitality and look and feel your absolute best.

1) Remove processed foods from your diet

This is going to take a little self-discipline, but it will all be worth it, I promise. Filling up on fresh, organic, un-processed foods that are packed with live enzymes will give you a new lease on life. If you maintain this lifestyle free of processed foods, your energy level will skyrocket and stay consistent throughout the day without any help from coffee or energy drinks.

2) Eat at least one raw meal a day

The process of cooking foods removes somewhere between 50-80% of the available vitamins, minerals and live enzymes, which is problematic because the conventional foods we eat have very little nutritional value to begin with. I suggest having one meal a day that is uncooked in order to make the most of what you’re eating. This can be a big colorful salad or you can get creative and try some of the many raw food recipes online. The preparation of raw food may seem daunting at first but it is really very simple. No need for ovens or microwaves, it’s time to teach yourself how to un-cook! There are plenty of recipes out there that you can find that do not require tools like a dehydrator, Vitamix or spiralizer (but those are fun too!). Give it shot!

3) Try green juice

Get as much goodness as possible in your cup. Next time you stop at Booster Juice or Jamba Juice, choose one of the freshly squeezed juices instead of the sugary blends they so commonly whip up. They say the juices are ‘all natural’ but really they have been heavily processed and made into sugary sorbets and fruit ‘cocktails’. Don’t be fooled by this deceptive marketing, go with the simpler choice. Look for a juice blend with kale, spinach, beet, cucumber, celery, carrot, apple, ginger or lemon! If you really want to optimize your health you can invest in your own juicer and get busy in the kitchen and come up with your own marvelous creations.

Wheatgrass and E3 Live (blue-green algae) shots are also packed full of nutrition and are a much better choice than some of the other menu options. Can’t handle the taste? Chase it with a little bit of freshly squeezed orange juice.

4) Find a form of fitness that you really enjoy and do a little each day

By now, we are all aware of the importance of exercising and living a healthy active lifestyle. But what benefit of all this information about health and wellness if we don’t truly enjoy our lives? If you find yourself straining and pushing yourself in your workouts to the point where you hate it and want it to be over, then you may want to reconsider your workout. Having negative thoughts during your intense workout will just not yield the same results as if you have fun in the process. Negative, angry thoughts bring about stress and a hyper vigilant state, which in turn makes the body more acidic. Happy, playful thoughts do just the opposite; they relax you and reduce the risk of disease.

If you haven’t found your place in the world of fitness, don’t fret. There is something out there for everyone. Try a new activity each week until you find something that really clicks for you. I find it really helps if you bond with others in the class or try new activities with a friend. Camaraderie makes the workout process more fun and the benefits on the body more profound.

5) Take time to learn what foods are the best for your body

Knowledge is power! The more that you know food the better choices you can make on the fly without relying on a meal plan. The internet is the greatest tool when it comes to researching how to eat a well balanced diet. Keep a list of healthy recipes that you would like to make in the future and try to get in the habit of cooking a new one each week. This will help to broaden your healthy meal repertoire, which is beneficial for you and your loved ones.