Even though female fertility typically starts to decline during the mid-30s, many women go on to have easy pregnancies even upto 40 years. Are they doing anything special to extend their fertile years? Are you also wondering how to stay fertile in your 30s?
Over 20 percent of American women now have their first baby after 35 years of age, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1 in 4 women can still easily get pregnant in any month they try after the age of 35. Closer to the age of 40 that number goes down to 1 in 10 women.
It is important that you understand your own fertility and optimize your own body to prepare it for a pregnancy, instead of randomly following fad diets and social media trends.
The quality of our foods, environment, and life in general has significantly fallen in the past few decades and consequently we face this growing infertility crisis.
You simply have to accept that environmental and community factors that cannot be changed overnight but there are personal factors that you can work on to influence your fertility as you navigate the 30s.
Quality over quantity of eggs
95% of women will have around 12% of their total eggs by the time they reach 30 years. However, 12% means around 100,000 eggs for an average healthy female and you need only one good cell to get pregnant.
If trying to get pregnant in your 30s, it is the quality of the eggs that you should be more concerned about and not the quantity.
Here’s what you can do to maintain better quality of eggs and stay fertile in your 30s:
To stay fertile in your 30s:
Watch your weight
Include more whole foods in your diet
Have fewer carbs, avoid sugar spikes
Go for high-fat dairy
Exercise in moderation
Rest and destress
Steer clear of toxins
Do not consume too much caffeine
Consult your doctor for supplements
Twelve percent of all infertility cases are attributed to either the woman weighing too much or too little. An unhealthy body cannot carry or nurture a growing baby, so try to get your weight in the normal BMI range.
Any diet good for your overall health is generally good for your fertility as well but there isn’t one specific diet for all women.
Various studies have found that in general a diet high in unsaturated fats, whole grains, fruit, raw vegetables, and fish leads to better fertility outcomes in both men and women.
A low carb diet can reduce the levels of circulating insulin, restore hormonal balance, and improve ovulation, found a 2021 study.
This is particularly applicable to overweight women and those with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
A large European study found that low-fat dairy increases the risk of anovulatory infertility in women.
Women should swap skim milk for whole milk and eat ice cream, not low-fat yoghurt, advised Dr Jorge Chavarro, lead author and a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
However, you must do this within the constraints of maintaining normal calorie intake by having more salads, raw vegetables, and limiting the consumption of saturated fats.
Although research on the direct association of alcohol consumption with infertility is inconclusive, the devastating effects of FASD are well known. So far, no ‘safe dosage’ of alcohol has been determined for women trying to conceive. So, when trying to optimize your health for pregnancy, complete cessation of alcohol is advisable.
Mild exercises like swimming, walking, yoga enhance blood supply to the pelvic area and help in cutting down stress.
However, regular intense workout causes an endorphin rush that may suppress egg production and throw off your hormones.
A study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women had 40 percent lower chance of conceiving with IVF if they exercised for over 4 hours a week regularly for 1-9 years.
The link between stress and infertility is constantly under research but cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to increase blood sugars, which further causes all kinds of health issues. It’s important to let your body relax for optimal fertility.
Yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy—do whatever makes you feel relaxed and easy, and know that it’s ok to delegate some responsibilities at work and home, if they’re weighing you down.
Environmental toxins can cause endocrinal disruption impairing fertility and the female reproductive system. Research has found a clear connection between toxins and infertility.
Watch your exposure to cigarettes, second hand smoke, BPA (Bisphenol A) from plastics, drugs, PFCs (perfluorochemicals) like Teflon, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, mercury in fish, etc.
A cup or two of coffee may not cause any harm but if you’re having more than 300 mg caffeine/day, it may affect your ability to carry a baby. Caffeine also affects your metabolism, which in turn can impact your fertility.
None of our diets can easily satisfy the body requirements for minerals and vitamins. Magnesium is known to relax your fallopian tubes, and folic acid, vitamins A, D, and C, zinc, and selenium all contribute to improving your eggs and reproductive health.
However, do not randomly take any supplements or any medications without consulting with your doctor first.
Block the temptation to grab a quick burger and fries or reach out for that donut in your fridge just because it tastes good. Understand your body’s requirements and recharge it with healthy food that nourishes your body and may even help you you stay fertile in your 30s. Also, stay calm!
It is important to note that fertility in women is also influenced by their race, geographic region, and genetic factors, so not everyone may have the same results but for most women, healthier lifestyle choices can definitely help boost fertility in your later years.
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Female age-related fertility decline. Committee Opinion No. 589. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2014;123:719–21. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2014/03/female-age-related-fertility-decline
Weight, American Society for Reproductive Medicine https://www.asrm.org/topics/topics-index/weight/
Van Heertum, K., & Rossi, B. (2017). Alcohol and fertility: how much is too much?. Fertility research and practice, 3, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40738-017-0037-x
Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Frontiers in public health, 6, 211. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211
McGrice, M., & Porter, J. (2017). The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diets on Fertility Hormones and Outcomes in Overweight and Obese Women: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(3), 204. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9030204
Afeiche, M. C., Chiu, Y. H., Gaskins, A. J., Williams, P. L., Souter, I., Wright, D. L., Hauser, R., Chavarro, J. E., & EARTH Study team (2016). Dairy intake in relation to in vitro fertilization outcomes among women from a fertility clinic. Human reproduction (Oxford, England), 31(3), 563–571. https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dev344
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