Pregnancy Over 40: Conception Tips to Overcome Infertility

by Carissa Andrews - March 6, 2018

Photo Credit: by ludava,
Photo Credit: by ludava,

It’s not uncommon these days for women to wait to have children well into their thirties and even into their forties. While we’ve made tremendous progress in the science of fertility, unfortunately, advanced maternal age can take its toll on a pregnancy’s viability. As a new mom approaches her forties, her chance of conceiving naturally drops to about 5%, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. In fact, 29% of women age 40 to 44 are considered infertile all together.

Not only is it harder for a woman to get pregnant in her forties, but her chances of miscarriage also go up, even if she does manage to get pregnant. Just between the ages of forty to forty-five, the risk of miscarriage goes from a 34% chance, to a whopping 53%. A lot of this is due to egg and sperm degradation. The risk of chromosomal problems will also increase with age, making down syndrome and birth defects more common place.

Luckily, there are a number of ways women who still want to conceive in their forties can accomplish this, as well as lower the risks associated.

Preparing for Pregnancy

If you’re a woman in your forties who’s looking to conceive, here are a few tips to consider in order to get yourself prepared; both mentally and physically.

1. Get a fertility work up done as soon as possible.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for more than six months, or if your maternal age is 35 or older, it’ time to see a doctor for a fertility work up. Here are some of the things you should have tested by your gynecologist or fertility specialist for optimal fertility health.

a. Check for egg quality. Eggs deteriorate over time; particularly with poor diet and exercise. Click here to learn some of the ways Natural Fertility Breakthrough suggests improving your egg quality.

b. Tube blockages. Fallopian-tube problems cause approximately 30% of all female infertility problems.

c. Uterine implantation fertility. Many women say they can get pregnant, but have trouble getting the fertilized egg to stick to the wall of the uterus. Your gynecologist will help you determine the next steps toward increasing uterine health and fertility.

d. Blood tests. There are a number of blood tests your doctor will run to determine your viability for pregnancy. These can include Day 3 blood work, Progesterone testing, and Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) testing to look for fallopian tube blockage.

e. Treatment plan. Based on the above, and other factors, you’ll receive a treatment plan tailored to you. This will give you a map forward on your quest to conception.

f. Have your man tested. As a final note, while you’re being tested, if your husband or SO is also over forty, have their sperm tested as well. There is a good chance his sperm quality may also be down—so you could get a treatment/game plan to tackle the problem from all angles.

2. Reduce stress.

Cortisol release, adrenal fatigue, and sleep deprivation all take their toll on fertility. Getting adequate rest and finding ways to reduce stress will help you balance your body’s hormonal responses so a healthy body and increase in fertility is restored.

3. Regular exercise.

Not only will regular exercise reduce stress, but it will help you maintain a healthy weight, and improve the blood flow throughout your body—including the female reproductive organs.

4. Maintenance of your ideal/normal body weight.

Obesity is a leading factor in infertility, as a higher BMI is correlated with ovulation upset. If you’re overweight, make that your primary goal first, not fertility. Vigorous dieting, exercise, or starvations/supplementation to lose weight will also create irregularities in the natural cycles and hormones. Slow, consistent weight loss is best, even though you may be reaching the end of your fertility cycle.

5. Watch your diet.

Your diet is especially important in making your body a fertile home for your growing fetus. Eating the right foods is a crucial step to increasing your chances of conceiving. For more information, check out the Fertility Diet to supply yourself with optimal nutrients for conception. If you’d like tips directed at you straight through Twitter, we suggest following FertilityDiet Doctor (@Jax_Fertility). Then, also consider the following:

a. Increase your water intake. Proper hydration helps out with a number of bodily functions—from maintaining a hormonal balance, to flushing away free radicals, and excess fat. All of which can lead to infertility, if not careful

b. Increase your antioxidants because they neutralize free radicals and protect your eggs from damage.

c. Supplementation/Therapies. There are a number of supplements and therapies your doctor may have you try to improve your fertility, egg quality, and overall health. Each woman is different, so be sure to take any medications or supplement based on your own doctor’s instruction. Some of the ones they may prescribe include:

Moxibustion therapy may be suggested for those interested in alternative medicine. It would be used daily, starting after your period until your ovulation days. This may or may not include additional supplementation of Chinese herbs and should increase the quality of the eggs.

Acupuncture. Sometimes, a combination of Chinese herbs and acupuncture may be recommended to increase the chances of fertility.

Folic acid. For older women, you may find your doctor will want you to up your dosage of folic acid. Follow whatever advice they give you on your daily amount.

Coenzyme Q10. A recent study found that older women could benefit from supplementation with CoQ10. Egg quality can be improved by supplements of 600mg per day and fertilization rates may be increased as well.

Materna Prenatal vitamins. For women over 40, prenatal vitamins become increasingly important because of advanced maternal age and added nutrient requirements of the mother.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been shown to dramatically improve fertility, so don’t be surprised if your doctor or gynecologist adds it to your vitamin requirements.

• Fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve fertility in both men and women. It also has many added benefits to both pregnant women and the children they carry.

6. Have a failsafe.

Even if you find yourself and your partner are infertile, you still have options to try. When all else fails, consider whether or not intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogates, or adoption is for you.

Things to Avoid

In addition to the list of things a woman over forty should do to prepare for a successful pregnancy, there are a few things that should be avoided, as well.

1. Refined sugars. Sugary beverages and too much refined sugar increases blood sugar levels, which can interfere with conception.

2. Alcohol and caffeine. In addition to potentially increasing the risk of birth defects, should a you become pregnant—the metabolic breakdown of alcohol is known to interfere with hormonal release and the integrity of a woman’s natural cycle. Caffeine can also interfere with your adrenal glands, as well as cortisol release. It’s best to minimize it or eliminate it from your diet all together while trying to conceive (as well as during pregnancy.)

3. Processed foods. Processed foods are generally high in toxins, preservatives, and other chemicals you won’t find in the human body. These can interfere with the natural hormones a woman’s body produces—increasing infertility, as well as potentially increasing birth defects and other problems. Stick with organic, whole foods whenever possible.

4. Sedentary lifestyle.

Preventing Miscarriage

For some, the biggest hurdle might be overcoming the fear of possible miscarriage. Particularly, if this is a reality that has already been experienced. Because the risk of miscarriage is a very real possibility as women get older, it’s important to take some things into consideration.

1. Blood tests. Those same blood tests you took for your fertility work up will also provide you with invaluable insight into your miscarriage risks. Talk with your doctor about how you can minimize your risks and set up a battle plan.

2. Change your lifestyle. If you have lifestyle changes you need to make, give yourself at least a 3-4 month preconception program timeline to get into the grove and make changes. You do not want to be actively dieting, or over-exerting yourself when you conceive.

3. Have your man’s sperm count checked. As with increasing your chances of getting pregnant, your sperm quality can also affect miscarriage. If you haven’t had sperm count/quality checked over—now is a good time.

If you’re a woman in your forties who is trying to conceive—know there may still be time to have a baby, but you’ll still want to act fast. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get pregnant. We hope these tips are actionable steps you can take towards achieving your goal of having a healthy pregnancy. Be sure to talk with your gynecologist about a personalized treatment plan, as well as what supplements and medicines you can or should be taking in order to conceive.

For those interested in taking this conversation further, we’ll be creating a campaign out on Twitter. Use the hashtags #pregnancyover40 and #infertility to join in the conversation.


Carissa Andrew considers herself a triple threat: write, design and marketing. Her passion lies in mixing these three together with creativity and sass.

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