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Fertility Health
fertility after 35

If you are trying to conceive and you’re over 35, you’re certainly not alone. The number of women having their first baby at age 35 or older rose 23% from 2000 to 2014 and is likely even higher today.  Although many women are delaying pregnancy until well into their 30s and early 40s, it is important to understand how age impacts your fertility. In this article, we will explain how age can affect your fertility and outline the top 5 supplements for fertility after 35.

Your Fertility After 35

This may come as a shock, but in the reproductive world women age 35 and over are considered to be of “advanced maternal age.”

Even though you may not feel any different, once you hit your mid-to-late thirties, the quantity, and quality of your eggs decline. This means that it may take longer for you to get pregnant. It also means your risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications increases.  A decline in egg quality increases the chance of chromosomal abnormalities, which can result in miscarriage or genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, trisomy 18, and others.

The good news is many women of advanced maternal age can conceive and deliver healthy babies.  Practicing a healthy diet and lifestyle for fertility is key.   There are also specific nutrients to consider that may improve egg quality and potentially improve your chances.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for fertility.  Research shows that women trying to conceive naturally who have a higher vitamin D level have a better chance of getting pregnant.  Several studies have linked a normal vitamin D level (>30 ng/mL) with higher IVF pregnancy rates and lower miscarriage rates.

It is important to take vitamin D while you are trying to conceive and continue once you are pregnant.  Many women need more than the 600-1,000 IUs found in most prenatal vitamins. Taking 2,000 to 4,000 IUs during pregnancy may reduce the risk of preterm birth and infant infection.

2. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

CoQ10is a naturally occurring antioxidant produced in the body, and it plays a crucial role in energy production inside our cells’ mitochondria.    A woman’s oocytes (egg cells) contain more mitochondria than any other cell in the body and therefore require a lot of CoQ10.

As we age, our levels of CoQ10 naturally decrease. This may contribute to the fact that an older woman’s eggs are less efficient at producing energy. This can lead to poorer fertilization and early miscarriage. 

CoQ10 can increase cellular energy production, which may improve egg quality and fertility in women of advanced maternal age.  CoQ10 supplementation for 60 days before IVF has been shown to improve embryo quality and ovarian response to stimulating drugs among women with poor ovarian reserve. Another study found a lower rate of certain chromosomal abnormalities and a slightly higher clinical pregnancy rate in women taking supplemental CoQ10.

guide to fertility health

3. Melatonin

Melatonin is an antioxidant and natural hormone made by the pineal gland. It regulates circadian rhythm, our body’s ‘built-in’ sleep/wake cycle. Many people take melatonin to help them sleep better at night.

Melatonin may also play a role in improving fertility.  Higher melatonin levels in the ovary may contribute to better egg quality.  Studies show that melatonin supplementation leads to better egg and embryo quality and higher fertilization rates among women undergoing ovarian stimulation for in vitro fertilization (IVF).  This may be due to melatonin’s ability to act as an antioxidant and protect egg cells from oxidative stress. 

4. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Your adrenal glands produce the natural hormone, DHEA. Once produced, your body then converts DHEA to either androgens (testosterone) or estrogens.  Moreover, DHEA levels decline with age.

DHEA may benefit fertility by improving ovarian function in women who previously responded poorly to IVF.  The way DHEA works to improve ovarian response isn’t completely understood.  Its mechanism may be due to its androgenic effectsStudies show that taking a DHEA supplement for at least 6 weeks before IVF may increase pregnancy and live birth rate and decrease miscarriage rate in women with poor ovarian function.

DHEA should be taken only with a doctor’s recommendation.  If you take DHEA prior to IVF, ask your fertility specialist when to stop taking it.  Your fertility clinic may tell you to stop it five days before your egg retrieval since DHEA can affect the results of a hormone test done at that time.

5. Inositols

Inositols are B-vitamin like nutrients that are found in some foods and are also made in the body. These nutrients (specifically myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol) function as secondary messengers in insulin signaling.  They help our cells use insulin better, thus regulating insulin and blood sugar levels.  This is important for those who are insulin resistant, such as most women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Studies have shown that inositols improves egg and embryo quality, and increase pregnancy rates among women with PCOS going through IVF.

Inositols may also have fertility benefits for women who do not have PCOS. Studies have shown that taking an inositol supplement prior to IVF improves the response to ovarian-stimulating drugs used, as well as embryo quality and pregnancy rates.

It is important to understand the impact of age on your fertility.  Making healthy diet and lifestyle choices, and taking certain nutrients, can improve your chances for success.

guide to fertility health
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