Boosting Fertility in Your 30s+
Although the 20s is when the body is most ready for childbearing, many women are now waiting until their 30s, and sometimes even their 40s and 50s, to get pregnant. For some, getting pregnant is easier than expected, while for others it can be a long and emotional journey.
Women around the world struggle with infertility, which can involve both getting pregnant and staying pregnant. As the rate of infertility continues to increase, many people are blaming the presence of toxins and chemicals that fill our day-to-day lives. However, there are many possible causes of infertility and each woman, and couple, is uniquely different.
Infertility can often be reversed by shifting both diet and lifestyle. Read on to see what both you and your partner can incorporate into your diet and lifestyle to help give you a better chance at conceiving naturally.
There can be many causes of infertility and each cause is unique as both the man and the woman have a part to play.
Some possible causes include:
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Endometriosis & PCOS
Blocked Fallopian tubes
Thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism especially)
Abnormal sperm count
All cases of infertility are unique. Some may be complex and require a lot of support, while others may just need a few dietary and lifestyle changes.
As infertility is shared, it is important for both partners to make the necessary changes to help boost their fertility. It also takes about 3 months to affect the sperm and egg quality, so it’s best to stick with the changes and be patient with the results. The below suggestions specify whether they are specifically for females, males, or both.
Nourishment (Female and Male)
Water - drink at least 8-10 cups of water daily (or half of your body weight - in pounds - in ounces daily). This is a simple task, yet the benefits to this alone can be huge.
Plenty of fruits and vegetables - these provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Include all different colors and lots of green leafy vegetables. Try a challenge of eating 10 different kinds of fruits and vegetables daily!
Fiber - provides more bulk in the gut and allows ease of elimination for toxins and wastes. Great sources of fiber include fruit and vegetables, beans and legumes, and chia seed pudding.
Protein - provides the building blocks necessary for the growth of a fetus. Great sources include pasture-raised eggs, organic yogurt, grass-fed and organic meat, and wild-caught fish. Aim for at least 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
Good fats - are necessary for the proper functioning of hormones as well as neurological functioning. Include healthy fats from nuts, seeds and their oils, avocados, coconuts, wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon, and hemp seeds. Aim for a variety of healthy fats daily.
Sugars and refined carbohydrates - as they are pro-inflammatory and affect blood sugar imbalances. A common cause for symptoms in those with PCOS is the intake of sugar and its subsequent blood sugar imbalances. Remember: whole grains, as well as sugar alternatives such as maple syrup, are still considered okay to consume. Also note the sugars in whole fruits are not of concern, as fruits also contain fiber to help slow down the digestion of the fruit sugars.
Conventional (factory farmed) animal products - as these animal products contain toxins and hormones due to the way they are raised. This is due to everything from the genetically modified food they consume to the drugs and hormones they are given to help fatten them up quickly and withstand inhumane conditions without getting sick.
Alcohol - as consuming alcohol can lower sperm count, trigger the release of toxic chemicals during pregnancy, cause chromosomal defects in the sperm or egg prior to conception, and spike insulin which upsets the ideal hormone balance.
Smoking and second-hand smoke - as it’s a major source of toxins and oxidation, and is more likely to cause miscarriages. Smoking can also damage sperm and lower sperm count.
Supportive Supplements (Female)
Take a prenatal! Many prenatal supplements on the market will include most of the individual nutrient recommendations that are below. A great prenatal + oils and a probiotic often works best!
B-Complex - necessary for energy production, estrogen metabolism, red blood cell formation, cell division, and brain development of the fetus (25-60 mg/day). Look for the active form of b-vitamins.
Zinc - important for hormonal balance, the development of sperm and eggs, and fertilization (20 mg/day).
Folic Acid - to prepare the nervous system development in a growing fetus. Look for folic acid in its already methylated form of l-methylfolate (800-1,000 mcg/day).
Iron - important for red blood cell production (25 mg/day).
Calcium - important for strong bone formation (1,200 mg/day).
Magnesium - assists in relaxing the uterine lining, contributes to the building of bones, and regulates the nerves. It also helps to calm the body (600 mg/day).
Vitamin C - for immune support, regulating the menstrual cycle, and supporting ovarian function (1,000-3,000 mg/day).
EFAs - needed for healthy hormone function. Look for an EFA that contains a good amount of DHA
(600-1,200 mg/day). A 3:1 ratio is best.
Evening Primrose Oil - a great source of GLA, an essential fatty acid that may boost fertility by increasing cervical mucus (1,500 mg 1-2 times daily during days 1-14 of the menstrual cycle).
Probiotics - promote gut health and immune function (start at 3-5 billion CFU and increase to 10-20 billion CFU daily).
* Taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement is a great way to get most of these nutrients all at once. Take additional supplements when needed for specific nutrients. Work with a holistic practitioner to determine what supplements and dosages are best for you.
Supportive Supplements (Male)
Selenium - increases sperm motility (50 mcg/day).
Zinc - improves sperm quality (mobility and structure) and increases sperm count (20 mg/day).
Vitamin E - an antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. Free radicals can affect sperm quality and quantity (15 mg/day).
Vitamin C - an antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. Free radicals can affect sperm quality and quantity (90 mg/day).
B12 and Folate - increase semen count, sperm motility, morphology, and DNA (B12: 2.4 mcg/day; folate: 400 mcg/day).
EFAs - increase antioxidant activity in sperm and improve sperms count, motility, and morphology (1.6 g/day).
L-Carnitine - increases sperm motility (500-2,000 mg/day).
Supportive Lifestyle (Females and Males)
Reduce Stress - the body does not want to reproduce when in a fight-or-flight state. Stress hormones such as cortisol are increased when the body is stressed, which can lead to infertility. Although it is virtually impossible to eliminate all stress from our lives, it is important to do what we can to cope with and minimize the impacts of negative stress. Sit down and identify the stressors in all areas of your life, and then try to come up with a way to eliminate or reduce the stress in most areas. To help decrease stress overall, try to take time for yourself each day to do something you enjoy: practice deep breathing, start a journaling practice, meditate in the morning and/or at night, do yoga or stretching, go for walks, etc.
Improve Sleep - a lack of sleep can negatively impact your ability to conceive, as while we sleep the body regulates its hormones, which are needed in balance for fertility. In addition, for women, a lack of sleep can throw off your cycle timing as well as the date of ovulation. Try to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. It may be helpful to start a nighttime routine, which will tell your body and your mind when it’s time to slow down, relax, and prepare to sleep. This could include making a tea (calming teas such as valerian, passion flower, or chamomile are great choices), reading a book, meditating, or journaling.
Exercise - including physical activity each day is important for balancing hormones. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also an important factor in increasing fertility. Being extremely overweight, as well as extremely underweight, can also cause issues with hormone balance, glandular function, and fertility. Try to get some sort of physical exercise 4-5 days a week for at least 20 minutes. This could include walking, bike riding, weight training, pilates, yoga, dancing, or going to the gym. Be sure to avoid over-exercising, which can also cause problems and imbalances with hormones and fertility.
Seed Cycling - try seed cycling to help regulate your cycle and boost the hormones required for each phase of the cycle. On days 1-14 (the luteal phase), have 1 tbsp each of ground pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds. This will boost zinc and healthy fats for hormone production, and aid with the elimination of excess estrogen in the body. On days 15-28 (the follicular phase), have 1 tbsp each of ground sunflower seeds and ground sesame seeds. These spike up the production of progesterone to maintain the uterus lining for successful egg implantation.
Be Aware of Scrotal Temperature - anything above 34.4 - 36.7°C (94-96°F), which is the normal temperature range for the scrotum, can impede sperm production. Do keep your scrotal temperature low/normal, avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing and participating in exercise that causes excessive heat build-up. It’s also wise to avoid spending time in hot tubs and saunas, and placing laptops directly on the lap or keeping your cell phone in your pocket.
Helpful Herbs (Female)
Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex) - normalizes reproductive hormones (1-3 tincture full/day).
Black Cohosh - increases the release of hormones to assist with ovulation (20-40 mg standardized extract 2x per day during days 1-14 of the menstrual cycle).
Rhodiola - supports thyroid function, improves egg maturation, and enhances fertility (100-200 mg per day in divided doses).
Helpful Herbs (male)
There are several lovely male fertility blends on the market - try these individually or find a blend that looks good to you!
Maca helps with hormonal balance, supports hypothalamus and pituitary communication (for the proper production of hormones which regulate making sperm), and increases libido and energy. Try adding 1 tsp to a smoothie or taking in capsule form daily.
Ashwagandha has been shown to increase testosterone levels and improve sperm quality. It also supports a healthy stress response. Try adding 1 tsp to a smoothie or taking in tincture form 1-3x per day.
Tribulus increases sperm health by improving its motility, morphology, and count. It also increases erectile health and circulation. Try in capsule form and follow the dosage on the bottle.