In our last post we talked about 5 things you might not know about infertility, and today we want to look at its more positive flipside: Fertility.
Just as there are a lot of misleading and fear-mongering myths about infertility, there is a lot of misinformation on the topic of fertility, and we want to make sure you have the facts.
So, we’re bringing you another ‘5 Things You Might Not Know’, all about you (and your guy’s!) fertility, and how it impacts your path towards a healthy pregnancy and beyond.
5 Things You Might Not Know About Fertility
1. You can get pregnant and carry a healthy pregnancy after age 35
We do hope you know this by now! It’s a big fertility myth that your chances of conceiving drop drastically after age 35, and unfortunately that still gets floated around in conversation. While it is true that there is a decline in fertility with age (for both men and women!), it’s not like you hit a wall on your 35th birthday where it becomes vastly more difficult to conceive.
Over time as you (and therefore your eggs) age, they become more susceptible to damage and chromosomal issues that can make everything from successful fertilization to implantation to carrying a healthy pregnancy less likely. So yes, your chances of conceiving will start to decline after 35 but it is definitely possible to have a healthy pregnancy after 35 – and even after 45!
For more on that, check out this post.
2. The guy’s age impacts his fertility, too
We hinted to this in the last one, but we want to make sure we’ve covered it. Your guy (or whoever is providing sperm for your pregnancy) is not some magnificent stallion that can create an unending supply of healthy sperm. Sorry to ruin that for you… or maybe for him?
Male fertility and the quality of their sperm will decline over time, too. Again, this can lead to a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities that make conception and developing a healthy fetus more difficult.
His age-related fertility decline is more likely to start in his mid-40’s and males do tend to have a longer ‘runway’ in their ability to conceive.
3. Going gluten-free is not guaranteed to make you more fertile
Back in 2017 at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Scientific Congress & Expo (quite the mouthful), a study was presented that revealed gluten-free diets are unlikely to impact fertility. The researchers contradicted the popular myth that a gluten-free diet could positively impact IVF outcomes and fertility.
The study revealed the following: “While healthy eating. including a low-carb diet, is part of a holistic, evidence-based approach to treating patients with infertility, adhering to a gluten-free diet has been shown to have no impact on increasing fertility for those trying to conceive”. – Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. Read the full text here.
If you do have a medically indicated gluten intolerance, observing a gluten-free diet may very well improve your chances of conceiving.
For more on gluten-free diets and pregnancy, check out this post.
4. Going dairy-free is not guaranteed to make you more fertile
Studies have come out showing that consuming whole milk or full-fat dairy can increase fertility. Other studies have shown that low-fat dairy products can affect ovulation, thereby decreasing fertility.
Yet, this cohort study that evaluated dairy intake in relation to conception success concluded that they could not support the claim that high-fat dairy diets improve fertility, nor could they support the claim that low-fat dairy diets harm fertility.
Yes, this is all incredibly confusing as it’s all incredibly contradictory. So what’s a girl to do? The major takeaway here is that nutrition comes down to your unique health profile and dietary needs.
For example, women who suffer from ovulatory dysfunction have been shown to experienced improved fertility rates when their diet includes whole milk. However, for women who are lactose intolerant or particularly casein-reactive, dairy products can cause significant inflammation of the digestive system, making it harder to get pregnant.
Going dairy-free might increase your chances of conceiving, but it could also reduce it. Ultimately, it’s not a black and white answer because we are all different. The more you know about your own body and how it reacts to the food you put in it, the better decisions you can make.
5. Fertility is not a constant, unchanging ‘thing’
We’re not talking about how your fertility changes over time and with age – since we just covered that above! What we mean here is that your fertility levels, even throughout your monthly cycle, aren’t constant.
If you’ve tracked your ovulation you’ll know that your fertile window is only about 6 days long. When you release your eggs they only have a small window where they can be fertilized, and even though sperm can hang out in there a while, it’s still a relatively short amount of time. If you are actively TTC and haven’t started tracking your ovulation to help in those efforts, we do encourage it. For more on that check out this post put together by our good friends at Ava.
Thinking of your fertility as a spectrum rather than a constant makes it easier to see infertility as a spectrum too, rather than a singular, unchanging reality you must accept.
If you are trying to conceive and struggling, know that things can change, there is hope, and there are many paths to becoming a mother. You’re already on your way and we’ll be here for every step of it.