After my last Follistim + IUI cycle was a bust, I decided to take a break from medicinal infertility care. When I made that decision, I had no idea just how long the break would be. Here we are 14 months later, and I’m still on a medical break, but doing some things to help optimize my health to hopefully improve my chances of conceiving while I’m in my 30s. I’m not sure if we’ll do medical treatment again, but in the meantime, I’m hopeful for a miracle and trying to be a good steward of the body I have.
Before I share the five ways that I optimize my health, here are some stats on infertility in our 30s. Please note that while these are statistics, they are just that – they are not the cold hard truth for all women, and quite frankly, God is bigger than these numbers. Science isn’t everything.
- A healthy woman in her 30s has a 15-20% chance of conceiving each month.
- Fertility gradually declines throughout in the 30s, especially after age 35. However, 1 in 5 women has her first baby after the age of 35.
- As a woman reaches her mid- to late 30s, she’s less likely to conceive and more like to have miscarriages because the quality and quantity of her eggs are dwindling.
- About 95% of 30-year-old women have only 12% of their original number of ovarian follicular cells, which can develop into eggs.
- The mid-30s is when a woman’s fertility takes the biggest turn.
While these numbers may seem grim, research suggests that women with PCOS may actually see an increase in fertility as they age. Studies have shown that women with PCOS in their 30s have androgen decreases, which results in more regular periods, which further results in making it a little easier to identify our fertile windows! I don’t know about you ladies, but that is encouraging to me.
So now that we have numbers out of the way, here are five ways that I optimize my health to hopefully conceive in my 30s.
I look at food as fuel.
Having PCOS means that I’m already at a higher risk for developing diabetes and heart disease, so why should I exasperate that risk by eating junk all the time? I’m already hypoglycemic, so I look at food as a way to fuel my body properly so I can function better and stay balanced. Women with PCOS tend to struggle with insulin resistance, which is largely affected by what we eat.
I exercise for the health benefits, not just to lose weight.
Exercising it not my favorite past time. I really don’t like it. My face itches when I sweat, I get tired easily, I get frustrated when I feel like I can’t do something… I’m just not a fan. However, it’s important that I get over these things and do it because exercise gets my blood pumping, which is good for my ovaries and my uterus. It also gets my metabolism going, which helps fight the fat that seems to build up very easily due to PCOS.
I choose folate over folic acid.
Check out this article for details that align with why I believe folate is better than folic acid. In a nutshell, folate is naturally occurring while folic acid is synthetic, and our bodies process each one differently. When it comes to infertility, these little details are incredibly important. For women with MTHFR, which is not routinely checked for, this is a matter of life or death when it comes to conception and miscarriage. I err on the side of “better safe than sorry” and try to consume as much naturally occurring folate as possible, and avoid synthetic folic acid, even in my prenatal vitamin.
I avoid chemicals that affect hormones.
There are several offenders that mimic estrogen in the body and are found in a majority of beauty products on the shelves at the stores. From parabens to sulfates to artificial fragrances, there are several chemicals that can cause hormone imbalances and I’ve made it my mission to avoid them as much as possible. As with most things, there is an “everything in moderation” rule, but when these things are in almost everything we use, I can’t help but wonder if that much exposure has caused me harm. Check out this article I wrote on beauty products that are safer for PCOS.
I try to be mindful of stress.
I fail miserably at this many days, but I constantly remind myself that I am an imperfect person serving a perfect God, and that things will happen outside of my control. Things will happen inside my control as well, but I can’t expect myself to be perfect. I try to pick my battles and keep stress to a minimum in hopes of maintaining healthier blood pressure, heart rates, and yes, blood sugar. When I have an anxiety attack, my blood sugar drops and I get dizzy or completely fall out and faint. If I can be mindful of my mental health and keep my stress level down, I can be a healthier me.
While I’m waiting to determine a course of action for trying to conceive in my 30s, these little tips help me stay healthier as I wait. Before I decide to venture into medical treatment again, I’m definitely considering The Stork OTC as an alternative to an IUI. If there is one extra thing we can do at home to increase our chances of conceiving in comfort and not in an exam room, I’m all for trying. Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out their How It Works page and read their Success Stories.
What are ways that you try to stay healthy while waiting for your miracle? Would you try an at-home alternative to IUI? Let me know in the comments!