Tips for boosting fertility when your biological clock is ticking
Fertility can feel like a ticking time bomb when you’re over 40. If your nightmares are made of diminishing ovarian reserves and cervical mucus that never quite achieves egg-white status, take heart. There are plenty of ways for Solo Moms to boost their fertility without spending tons of money and time in a fertility clinic.
1. Take your vitamins (and lots of them!)
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to boosting fertility, but there are some supplements that are clinically proven to help women conceive. Take vitamins, particularly vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E; calcium, magnesium, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and iron are also important. A prenatal vitamin is a good place to start, but talk to your doctor about the ideal dosages for boosting fertility. They are likely much higher than what you will find in a basic prenatal vitamin.
2. Take fertility-enhancing supplements
In addition to vitamins and minerals, there are supplements that can help your fertility. One study showed that PABA can improve women’s fertility. In fact, 12 out of 16 women with infertility problems became pregnant within several months of taking PABA. Experts recommend taking 400 mg per day for fertility reasons. The best part is that a bottle of PABA is only about $8 for a 100-day supply, so you won’t be out much money if it doesn’t work.
Other popular supplements are l-arginine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and n-acetyl cysteine (NAC). These often are contained in “fertility blend” supplements but also can be taken separately. Talk to your doctor to see what dose would be right for you.
3. Eat your beans
Older moms often need help improving egg quality. Protein is known as the building blocks of life, and eating more protein can give your egg quality a boost when you’re trying to conceive.
Not just any type of protein will do when you’re in the baby-making business, however. Some studies suggest the type of protein you eat is just as important as how much you eat when it comes to your fertility.
These studies have shown dramatically decreased fertility in women who eat a lot of animal protein, but high fertility rates in women who get most of their protein from plant-based sources. That’s why beans are a great addition to a fertility-boosting diet. Just make sure to avoid soybeans; some studies suggest that the high amount of plant-based estrogen in soy can interfere with conception.
4. Use a conception-focused lubricant
The older we get, the drier things can get down there. Unfortunately, the majority of lubricants (even ones touted as “natural” like egg whites or coconut oil!) can wreck your chances of getting pregnant. So what’s a dry but ready-to-conceive woman to do? Make sure you’re using only conception-focused lubricants such as Pre-Seed or Conceive Plus when you do the deed, and avoid having oral sex around ovulation. Saliva can create a harmful atmosphere for sperm that decreases their chance of survival.
5. Ditch the caffeine (but enjoy an occasional glass of wine)
If it sounds like a cruel joke to suggest giving up coffee, don’t cry quite yet. Although caffeine has been linked to decreased fertility rates, occasional alcohol consumption is A-OK. You can still drink your beloved wine once in a while, just make sure it’s truly occasional because even fewer than five drinks per week has been tied to reduced fertility rates.
Bonus: Get your partner on supplements!
If your partner is a man (or you’re working with a sperm donor you know), don’t forget to help him boost his sperm quality and production, too! Building extra-strong sperm can make it easier for your eggs to find their match in less-than-perfect uterine conditions.
Sperm quality often can be improved quickly and effectively through an inexpensive vitamin and supplement regimen (and by ditching the caffeine and alcohol, too . . . sorry, guys!). Studies also show a clear link between maca consumption and increases in sperm quality and quantity. So encourage your partner or donor to lay off the caffeine and booze, and take daily maca supplements and a high-quality daily vitamin to give his soldiers the best odds they can get!
Jody Allard is a writer and mother living in Seattle. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, Time, and Good Housekeeping, and on Vice, among others. When she isn’t writing, she can be found binge-watching HGTV and embarrassing her teenagers.
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