Aug 24, 2020 | By Heather Frame, BSN, RN
We’ve all heard it a time or two – your biological clock is ticking. While getting pregnant after the age of 35 can be a little more difficult, it’s certainly not impossible!
How does fertility decrease with aging?
Fertility slowly begins to decline in a woman’s early 30’s and speeds up in the late 30’s and 40’s.
Every woman is born with all the eggs she will have in her lifetime. Over time, these eggs decrease in quantity and quality – meaning you don’t have as many and they aren’t fertilized as easily
Another aspect of fertility that is impacted by aging is that the ovaries become less sensitive to hormones in your body that trigger ovulation. This can lead to anovulatory cycles or a cycle where an egg is never released.
Things to consider before TTC after age 35
Being prepared both mentally and physically before trying to conceive can make the journey a little easier. Here are a few things to think about before taking that next step:
- Emotional readiness
- Scheduling a preconception appointment with your doctor
- Egg quality and quantity
- Genetic testing
- Underlying health conditions
Women are typically labeled with advanced maternal age (AMA) or even a geriatric pregnancy after age 35. This verbiage can feel demeaning and often leaves women feeling unvalidated over the course of their much anticipated pregnancy. Whatever your reason for trying to conceive at any age, you are enough and you should feel empowered while on your journey to expand your family.
Many online resources will state that increased age may come with an increased risk of complications, but keep in mind, every woman is different and age does not always define fertility or pregnancy outcomes. Scheduling a preconception appointment with your doctor can be very beneficial as it allows you to discuss any lifestyle changes that could aid in boosting fertility as well as setting realistic expectations for your specific situation.
Some doctors will recommend laboratory testing, such as assessing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels or even scheduling an ultrasound to reveal information about egg quantity and quality.
The age of the egg released during ovulation as well as its quality are two of the most important factors that can be linked to complications. Older eggs are more likely – but not assuredly – to cause genetic abnormalities, so your doctor will likely recommend genetic testing during pregnancy to rule out any abnormalities.
While the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth can increase with age, this is also largely dependent on pre-exisiting conditions, so it’s important to have that chat with your doctor about what you can do now to prepare today for a healthy pregnancy and delivery in the future.
Tips to get pregnant faster naturally after age 35
Though you will still experience a natural fertility decline with age, here are some tips you can naturally set your body up for success:
- Maintain a BMI between 20-25 for optimal fertility
- Participate in physical exercise 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week
- Track your ovulation with ovulation tests
- Confirm ovulation with your basal body temperature (BBT)
- Discuss supportive supplements
Being overweight or obese can make it more difficult to conceive as you age. Weight loss, following a healthy diet, and physical exercise can not only make you feel better, but can improve regular ovulation and fertility as well.
Other lifestyle modifications include getting sufficient sleep, managing stress, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, and refraining from smoking or using drugs.
Tracking ovulation through the means of ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) and cervical mucus is very beneficial. Ovulation tests detect luteinizing hormone (LH) levels in the urine. LH surges right before ovulation, so by testing daily you can see when you will most likely ovulate.
Cervical mucus tends to become more thin, clear, and stretchy (like raw egg whites) near ovulation making it the perfect consistency for traveling sperm and is another indicator of fertility to observe while trying to conceive after the age of 35.
Charting your basal body temperature daily, in addition to LH testing, is important because it can confirm ovulation. To efficiently track BBT, you need a basal body temperature thermometer. After sleeping for at least 3 consecutive hours, check your temperature immediately upon waking before getting out of bed. Try to check at the same time each day to ensure accuracy and look for the spike in temperature that should occur after ovulation.
Take some of the guesswork out of charting by logging your ovulation symptoms, LH tests, and BBT into your Premom app! It uses all of the information about your cycle to pinpoint your most fertile window in hopes of helping you achieve pregnancy faster.
While there are no vitamins or supplements that can reverse ovarian aging, some may be supportive of egg health. Prenatal vitamins with folate are great to begin taking before or when trying to conceive. It’s also worth discussing myo-inositol with your doctor as studies have shown that it may increase egg quality.
When to seek help
If you have been trying to conceive for 6 months, it’s time to reach out to your doctor. If you are 40 or older, consult with your doctor as soon as you start trying to conceive. Though it does generally take women over 35 longer to conceive, it’s important to identify any potential fertility issues early. This allows extra time to determine fertility health and course of action while not compromising current ovarian reserve.
Your dream of holding that sweet bundle of joy after the age of 35 is very possible! Though it does come with it’s own set of hurdles, you are your best advocate and you are validated in your decision to expand your family regardless of age.
Heather Frame is a compassionate Women's Health nurse. She specializes in obstetrics, postpartum, newborn care, and lactation counseling. She is committed to providing women the support they need to achieve pregnancy and thereafter. As a personal user of Premom, she can attest to how important charting your cycles is in conjunction with achieving pregnancy. She would love to help you navigate your fertility journey. Schedule a consultation with Nurse Heather right through your Premom app!