Pregnant woman

Many women wait until their 30s or later to start or grow their families. Women are generally at their most fertile between their late teens and early 20s, but many women go on to have healthy babies after 35.

About 1 in 4 women under the age of 35 can get pregnant in any single menstrual cycle. That drops to about 1 in 10 women as you get closer to age 40.

Wondering how to boost fertility in your 30s and beyond? The best approach is to establish some healthy habits.

Below are some natural ways women can enhance fertility and have a healthy pregnancy after 35.

How to Boost Fertility With Diet

No one food or beverage will magically make you conceive. But research shows that eating a healthier diet can help increase your chances. Women who follow healthier diet patterns tend to get pregnant faster, and men have better sperm quality.

The Mediterranean diet is one way of eating that can boost fertility. It’s based around these foods:

  • Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Legumes/beans like lentils, chickpeas, kidney, pinto, or black beans.
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, farro, barley, or quinoa.
  • Olive oil.
  • Fish, especially low-mercury, oily fish like salmon or sardines.
  • Small amounts of chicken or turkey.
  • Small amounts of dairy foods, especially yogurt.

The Mediterranean diet also limits foods that are highly processed or contain added sugar or unhealthy fats. Women who eat more of those often have a more challenging time getting pregnant. And men who eat more of them often have difficulty getting their partner pregnant.

If you’re hoping for pregnancy after 35, it’s best to limit foods like:

  • Sweetened soft drinks.
  • Desserts, ice cream, candy, and cookies.
  • Packaged salty snacks.
  • Fast food like burgers, pizza, and fried foods.

Some studies show caffeine might reduce fertility, so try to limit caffeine to less than 300 mg per day. That’s the amount in 1 large cup of coffee. Green or black tea is much lower in caffeine and herbal tea is caffeine-free. Both are good choices.

Drinking any amount of alcohol is harmful to your unborn baby. Since many women aren’t aware they’re pregnant until a few weeks after they’ve conceived, it’s best to stop drinking while you’re trying.

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Aim for a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or underweight can reduce your chances of conceiving. That’s because body fat plays a vital role in your sex hormones and ovulation.

Women who are overweight with a BMI greater than 25 take longer to get pregnant. The same is true if you’re underweight with a BMI of less than 19. In men, being overweight can affect sperm quality.

The best way to achieve a healthy weight is to eat a healthy diet and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Crash dieting can harm fertility.

Take Your Vitamins

There is no evidence that prenatal vitamins aid in conception. But prenatal vitamins should be a big part of your pre-pregnancy routine. These vitamins help fill nutritional gaps so your body can better support a growing baby.

Prenatal vitamins contribute to the development of your baby’s nervous system, skin, eyes, bones, and lungs. They also help prevent anemia in pregnant women.

Essential nutrients to consider include:

  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Omega-3 fats

Ask your ob-gyn about starting a prenatal vitamin and omega-3 supplement before you get pregnant.

Reduce Your Stress Level

It’s not clear how stress affects fertility, but there seems to be a link. Emotional stress might affect how your eggs mature. Women who undergo fertility treatments have an easier time getting pregnant when they’re less stressed.

If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you take time for self-care. Take some quiet time for yourself every day and get at least 8 hours of sleep. Also, try these mind-body therapies to help you relax:

  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Massage
  • Music therapy
  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupuncture

Stay Away From Toxins

Exposure to toxins is never a good thing, especially during pregnancy. But some can build up in your body even before you’re pregnant.

Certain chemicals act as endocrine disruptors in both men and women. These chemicals may impact your hormones, ovulation, and sperm quality. To boost your fertility chances, steer clear of toxins like:

  • Cigarettes and secondhand smoke.
  • Marijuana.
  • Illegal drugs.
  • Heavy metals, like mercury in fish.
  • BPA (Bisphenol A) from plastics.
  • PFCs (perfluorochemicals) like Teflon.
  • Chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

There is no way to guarantee if and when you’ll get pregnant. But these lifestyle tips are easy and natural ways to help boost fertility, especially if you’re over 35.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Having a Baby After Age 35: How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy. LINK

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Diet and Fertility: A Review. LINK

Frontiers in Endocrinology. Nutrition and Female Fertility: An Interdependent Correlation. LINK

Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal. Environmental Toxins and Infertility. LINK

About UPMC Magee-Womens

Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.

Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.