Age is one of the most significant yet unchangeable factors affecting conception and your ability to carry a healthy baby.

Although we may live in a world where forty is the new thirty. Our fertility has not progressed with the times.

We are still most fertile during our late teens and early twenties, a time when many of us are focusing on study, career travelling or just enjoying life! As we begin to settle down in our late twenties and early thirties our fertility is already declining and drops markedly when we reach thirty-five and further still in our forties making it increasingly difficult to conceive and carry a healthy baby.

Women

It’s easy to be heartened by the fact that many women in their forties do conceive and carry healthy babies. But the fact still remains that chances of conception in your forties is around 5%.  If conception is achieved, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities greatly increases and there is a much greater risk of miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

In fact, for women over 40 the chances of miscarriage is greater than the chance of a live birth.

Men

We hear a lot about the impact of a woman’s age on fertility, but men are also affected. A man’s sperm quality naturally decreases with age. This can affect conception and pregnancy outcomes. Regardless of the woman’s age, if conception does occur, the risk of miscarriage increases if the man is over 45 and it can take 5 times longer for conception to be achieved.

What can you do to improve your chances of conception?

Assisted reproductive technologies have progressed significantly, however they are not the magic solution many of us would like to believe. Advances in IVF technology are helping more and more couples achieve a healthy conception and pregnancy, who may have struggled to achieve and natural conception. However the success of achieving conception via these technologies is still dependent on your own fertility health, in which age is a key factor.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that there are plenty of diet and lifestyle factors and important micronutrients than can help improve fertility health and your chances of conception at any age.

Eggs and sperm have around a 90 day cycle, in which they develop from immature follicle to mature egg or sperm.  During these 90 days, your egg and sperm are greatly influenced by the environment in which they grow.  The healthier your egg and sperm, the greater your chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy outcome.  So what can you do to help ensure an optimal environment for healthy development

Things to increase
  • Ensure healthy levels of macro and micronutrients
  • Follow a healthy diet, including plenty of whole ‘nude’ food, organic where possible
  • Participate in regular healthy exercise (click here for some fertility enhancing yoga poses)
  • Ensure adequate sleep and practice mindfulness
  • Ensure adequate hydration, 2 litres of water per day
Things to decrease

Find out more about how to improve your fertility over 40 in this episode of Talking Fertility