The more birthdays you celebrate, the lower your chances of falling pregnant. But exactly what real challenges do women aged 40 and above face when trying to conceive?
Anita Chakraburtty, a naturopath who specialises in female and male reproductive health, fertility and labour, confirms that fertility can decline in women once they hit 40. “But don’t despair!” she says. “There are definitely things you can do to improve your fertility in your 40s.”
Without question, stress is the biggest obstacle to fertility, according to Anita. “Stress can be detrimental to the thyroid and if your thyroid function is compromised, it can affect your fertility,” she says. “Seaweed in the form of nori sheets or seaweed salads can help if your thyroid is below par (hypothyroidism).”
It’s important to seriously analyse your lifestyle and work out how and where you can eliminate stress. You may need to reduce your hours at work or cut back on other responsibilities in an effort to keep your mental and physical health in tip-top shape.
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Detox your home
“Xenoestrogens are synthetic oestrogens found in many household products; they mimic natural oestrogen, and can lead to symptoms of oestrogen dominance including endometriosis, fibroids and PMS,” Anita cautions.
Easy ways to eliminate xenoestrogens include:
- Avoid storing or heating food in plastic containers and use glass/ceramic bowls instead.
- Throw out all household cleaners and use only bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar.
- Eat only organic meat, as it will be hormone and chemical-free.
- Use baking paper instead of cling film to wrap food.
- Use only paraben-free body products.
Turn to astrology
As a member of the FAA (Federation of Australian Astrology), Anita occasionally uses ancient astrological techniques to boost conception success. “When the moon has the same lunar phase, such as a new moon or full moon, as the day you were born, a second spontaneous ovulation occurs,” she explains. “Dr Jonas was a Czech gynaecologist and astrologer in the 1950s, and he stumbled across ancient Babylonian astrological texts explaining the correlation with the moon and fertility. Dr Kurt Rechnitz expanded on the work of Dr Jonas by including measurements of women’s basal temperature shifts.”
“If you know your date, time and place of birth, an astrologer will be able to tell you your moon phase and boost your conception opportunities,” Anita says.
Stock up on antioxidants
Egg quality can reduce in women in their 40s, so antioxidant-rich foods should be consumed daily. “These include foods containing vitamin C and E, as wells as purple foods,”Anita says. “Incorporating these types of foods into your diet will lessen the effects of free-radical damage to your eggs.”
Stock your refrigerator and pantry with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, sunflower seeds, almonds and pine nuts.
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Get back to nature
“Do you have more facial hair than you did months ago? Is your waistline expanding despite your healthy lifestyle? If so, your oestrogen levels may be dropping,”Anita says. “However, plants can be used to naturally boost oestrogen levels, as phytoestrogens are plant-based oestrogens.”
Soy beans — not soy milk or tofu — and flaxseed oil have high levels of phytoestrogens, so consider adding them to your diet. “Soy beans are available in tins and can be used in salads or to make a fabulous hummus,” Anita suggests. “Also, choose edamane in Japanese restaurants as they are immature soybeans still in their pods. Flaxseed oil can be used as salad dressing or added to smoothies. Just remember, it must be stored in the fridge or it will go rancid!”