Women are conceiving children later and later in life. The thirties seem to be the time when women are secure in their careers and have stable relationships, and want to start family-planning. While this seems like a sensible course of action, biologically, it can lead to many difficulties when trying to conceive.
Why is it hard to conceive after 35?
Per the American Pregnancy Association, the fundamental reason women have trouble conceiving at later ages is that they ovulate less frequently. As a woman ages, her supply of eggs begins to decrease in quantity and quality. This means that she may not always release an egg during her monthly cycle. If no egg is released, there is nothing available to fertilize, therefore delaying conception.
In addition, older women have had more time to develop health issues which could create complications for conceiving and pregnancy. These health issues include previous abdominal surgeries near the fallopian tubes or uterus, high blood pressure or diabetes, previous reproductive tract infections, or endometriosis.
What should you keep in mind?
Given the above difficulties, it should come as no surprise that women over the age of 35 take longer to conceive. The average time for a couple over 35 to conceive is one to two years. There are other considerations to keep in mind if you are trying to conceive at a later age:
- The chance of miscarriage increases dramatically over the age of 35.
- There is a higher risk of birth defects for the baby. This could be due to the declining quality of the mother’s eggs. Older eggs have a harder time dividing correctly which can lead to conditions such as Downs syndrome.
- The risk of developing high blood pressure or gestational diabetes which can cause complications for the baby during and after pregnancy is increased.
- There is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies, placenta previa, preeclampsia, and placenta abruption.
What can you do to increase your chances of conceiving?
While the above may sound scary, there is plenty you can do to reduce the risk of these complications.
- Let go of the stress and worry that you won’t be able to get pregnant. It may sound trivial but this can act as a mental and physical block when trying to get pregnant.
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
- Stop drinking alcohol, smoking, and recreational drug use. These can drastically complicate pregnancies.
- Start eating foods that boost your endocrine system such as things full of omega-3, essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, and fruits and vegetables high in antioxidant vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene.
- Supplements containing myo-inositol, folic acid, and melatonin can help improve egg quality.
- Observing fertility signs can tell you a lot about your body. Using ovulation predictor kits can help identify the ideal days to conceive. Also, consider taking an at-home fertility test which screens for key elements affecting female and male fertility.
- Schedule regular visits with your health care provider to assess your health before and during pregnancy. They can review your medical history, current medications, and overall lifestyle to come up with a plan to optimize getting pregnant.
The most important point is if you haven’t conceived within 6 months, don’t be disheartened! Consult with a fertility specialist who will be able to discuss several options to assist you in your journey to growing your family.