Are you tired of all the societal pressure to have children before a certain age? Do you feel like society has told you that time is running out and you're starting to panic? Today, I want to have a lovingly honest conversation about fertility when you're a little older and help to take away the fear and anxiety surrounding it. Fertility issues are a challenge for around 15% of couples and the truth is, the idea of a "geriatric pregnancy" can be daunting and discouraging and I hate this language. Your ability to have a baby is all about your health, and your body, and with the right lifestyle and right approach, I’m learning that you can get pregnant and have a beautiful, healthy child outside of the time frames that society told you you can. Today, we’re going to throw out the biological clock and instead focus on the proactive steps you can take to optimize your fertility and the incredible potential of your body beyond these traditional time frames.
Dr. Nayan Patel is a renowned pharmacist, consultant, and lecturer in anti-aging science and advanced biochemistry. With an impressive background in mechanical engineering, chemistry, and a Pharm.D degree from USC School of Pharmacy, he is the founder of Auro Wellness, and is highly regarded in his field. He has extensive experience of working with physicians since 1999 and is a trusted pharmacist to celebrities, CEOs, and physicians themselves. I had the privilege of talking to him about important considerations for older women who are trying to conceive, and we discussed a lot of overlooked factors.
Nutrition, Diet and Ancestral Foods
He explained that nutrition plays a vital role in fertility, as evidenced by a study of first-time mothers. Avoiding fast food led to higher chances of conceiving within one month, while frequent fast food consumption doubled the likelihood of not conceiving, even after a year. Research shows that adopting an ancestral diet, rich in nutrient-dense foods, can positively impact fertility by providing essential nutrients for optimal reproductive health.
Here are some of the best ancestral foods to include in your diet for fertility and I’m going to talk about some of these below:
- Organ meats: Liver, heart, and other organ meats are incredibly nutrient-dense and are rich in B vitamins, iron, and other essential nutrients that support fertility.
- Pastured eggs: Eggs from pastured chickens are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, and other nutrients that support reproductive health.
- Seafood: Seafood, particularly wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for reproductive health.
- Fermented foods: Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are rich in probiotics, which support a healthy gut microbiome and optimal reproductive health.
By including these nutrient-dense ancestral foods in your diet, you can support your fertility and increase your chances of conceiving and carrying a healthy pregnancy.
Antioxidants such as folate and zinc can improve fertility by neutralizing free radicals that can damage sperm and egg cells. Research has shown that consuming antioxidant-rich foods, such as walnuts (which have been found to improve sperm quality in men), can enhance fertility. In fact, one 2012 study of young, adult men found that eating 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts per day improved sperm quality.
Similarly, higher folate intake has been associated with increased success rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy, and live birth in women. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts are excellent sources of beneficial antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta carotene, folate, and lutein. A balanced diet that incorporates these nutrient-dense foods can positively impact fertility for both men and women.
Blood Sugar Levels
In addition to Dr. Nayan Patel's valuable insights, maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is crucial for various benefits, including reduced inflammation, improved sleep, and helping with fertility. Research shows that elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance can affect ovulation in women, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and potential fertility issues. Taking proactive measures to balance blood sugar is essential. To gain a deeper understanding, check out our interview with the Glucose Goddess, Jessie Inchauspe, who provides fascinating insights on the topic here.
In terms of supplementation, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another supplement that may improve egg quality and increase the chances of conception (as well as mitochondrial health too, which we will touch on shortly). Other supplements that may be beneficial for fertility include folate, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron - but some of my favorites are natural supplements and include:
- Maca: This natural supplement comes from a plant grown in central Peru and has been found to improve fertility in some animal studies. It may also improve sperm quality.
- Bee pollen: Known for its immunity-boosting properties, bee pollen may also improve fertility and overall nutrition. One animal study found that consuming bee pollen was linked to improved sperm quality and male fertility.
- Bee propolis: This natural supplement was found to increase the chances of becoming pregnant by 40% after 9 months in a study of women with endometriosis who took it twice a day.
- Royal jelly: Another bee-derived supplement, royal jelly is packed with amino acids, lipids, sugars, vitamins, fatty acids, iron, and calcium. Animal studies suggest it may improve reproductive health in rats.
- Myo-Inositol: This natural supplement has been found to increase the pregnancy rate in infertile women undergoing IVF treatment. In one study, administration of Myo-Inositol resulted in a higher number of mature eggs and higher pregnancy rates in these women. Always check with your doctor before taking any natural supplements.
- Glutathione: Another really important thing that Dr Nayan taught me is the power of glutathione for fertility. With more people conceiving later in life, having optimal levels of this master antioxidant and detoxifier can help combat oxidative stress and promote healthier cells. And it's not just for women - glutathione can also benefit sperm cells. So if you want to give yourself the best shot at conceiving, consider reducing oxidative stress with glutathione. You can buy Dr. Nayan’s high dose glutathione here. His Patent is so special and delivers transdermally through the skin. I can personally say that there is no other glutathione out there like this!
Mitochondria, the cell powerhouses responsible for energy production and cell function, play a critical role in successful fertilization, hormone production, and embryo development. The mature egg cell, or oocyte, is packed with an impressive number of mitochondria, ranging from 100,000 to 600,000 per cell. This makes it vital for fertility, although often overlooked. Taking care of mitochondrial health is crucial for a successful pregnancy. This is because Mitochondria play a critical role in pregnancy outcomes, including successful fertilization, hormone production, and embryo implantation and development.
Research has shown that several nutrients can support healthy mitochondrial function and improve fertility outcomes too. CoQ10, for example, has been found to improve the activity, size, and energy production of mitochondria. It also enhances the quality of eggs in the ovaries, their genetic material, and their ability to resist damage, as well as sperm quality. In one study with mice, supplementing older mice with CoQ10 increased the number of eggs produced and improved mitochondrial function. This study was fascinating because it did not improve the egg quality of younger mice, indicating that CoQ10 supplementation is more beneficial for older eggs.
L-Carnitine is another essential nutrient for mitochondrial energy production and also for increasing fertility. It has been shown to improve ovulation, egg quality and quantity, endometrial health, and embryo growth.
Studies suggest that 500 mg daily is a well-tolerated dose for pregnant women. It's important to note that factors like nutrient deficiencies, toxins, prescription medications, stress, parasites, mold, bacterial dysbiosis, and environmental toxins can damage mitochondria too. So, it's essential to avoid these things as much as possible to support healthy mitochondrial function and fertility.
Next up, progesterone. If you're trying to conceive, understanding the role of hormones in your reproductive health is crucial too. One hormone that plays a key role in fertility is progesterone. Low levels of progesterone can have a significant impact on a woman's ability to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy. Signs of low progesterone levels can include irregular menstrual periods, miscarriage, infertility, and spotting or cramping during pregnancy. Additionally, as women age, hormone levels including progesterone decline, which can cause irregular ovulation and periods.
Stress can lower progesterone levels by utilizing raw materials needed for its production, leading to hormonal imbalances. To improve fertility, reducing stress levels is important through eliminating stress sources or engaging in enjoyable activities. Natural progesterone treatments can balance hormone levels, maintain the uterine lining, and reduce negative side effects. These treatments should be done on day 17 of your cycle, and applied through a cream or suppository as pills are less effective. It's recommended to consult with a doctor and evaluate hormone levels before using any progesterone cream.
High estrogen is also a major factor impacting fertility influenced by conditions like exposure to estrogen-mimicking chemicals, poor gut health, excess weight and inadequate nutrition. Addressing these is crucial for reproductive health and improving chances of conception.
Ultimately, working towards achieving hormonal balance is critical, particularly if you are going to get your eggs frozen. It’s really smart to get your egg quality sorted before doing this. Dr Nayan also reminded me that it takes around 90 days for an egg to mature before ovulation. This implies that it may take up to three months for you to enhance the quality of your eggs, so be patient and give yourself that time to provide proper care.
Fertility treatments like IVF and ART can also offer hope to women with low ovarian reserve or diminished ovarian reserve by increasing the chances of conception using their own eggs. Donor eggs can also be considered as an alternative. Working with a fertility specialist is really important to determine the best course of action based on individual circumstances.
So, what else?
Sleep hygiene is really important, and so is managing a healthy weight. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night may increase follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels, which protect egg quality. Reducing exposure to blue light from electronics before sleep can also improve melatonin production, which regulates sleep and egg quality. Exercise regularly too. Low-impact exercise improves blood flow to the ovaries, ensuring they receive enough oxygen for healthy eggs, and the low impact can also help reduce stress and cortisol levels in the body.
I do hope you’ve found this interesting, helpful and encouraging.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST***