More Fertility Tips
Turn back the clock with special supplements
In addition to taking a high quality prenatal multivitamin and 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, consider adding coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to your routine. Animal studies show that this natural enzyme could be a wonder supplement for fertility, actually reversing age-related reproductive decline. "If you give CoQ10 to perimenopausal mice, they turn into young, hot babe mice in terms of their egg quality," Dr. Domar says. Research on humans has just begun, but the preliminary results are looking good. "In the meantime." Dr. Domar adds, "I'm advising all my patients to take Co Q10. There doesn't seem to be a downside, so why not see if it can make an impact?"
Reduce stress wherever possible
"When you're in your early forties, you're very aware of the biological clock ticking, loudly," says Andrea Braverman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in the Department of OB/Gyn at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. "You need to make sure you don't psych yourself out and add to already high stress levels." Mind-body behavioral techniques such as yoga or tai chi can help, as can cognitive behavioral therapy. Acupuncture may also be beneficial: Practitioners say it can increase blood supply to the uterus and help with hormones, and physicians generally accept its relaxation properties.
Don't wait to seek help
It you've been trying for three or more months without any luck, it's a good idea to see your doc to rule out correctable issues such as blocked tubes or ovulatory dysfunction. The doctor will also look at hormone levels to assess the quantity and quality of your eggs ("the ovarian reserve") if early menopause is a factor. (The average age of onset varies from 40 to 60.)
If you're diagnosed as sub-fertile, you may choose to look into intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Success rates decline steadily, and tend to be quite low after the age of 44.
Consider egg alternatives
The reality is that many women in their forties won?t be able to conceive with their own eggs, especially after the age of 44. But if you?re set on carrying your own child, there?s another way to make it happen. ?The option of donor eggs is spectacular because it still affords a woman or couple the opportunity to have a biologic child,? says David Ryley, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Boston IVF fertility clinic and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. "The egg donor is no different from a sperm donor. It's the carrier's uterus, and it's her blood and her placenta going through those babies veins." New research shows that moms have a big influence on how the baby develops genetically. "The environment that you nurture the baby in matters with regard to the way genes are turned on and turned off -- you actually make the baby more like you," says Jani Jensen, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Egg donation has a success rate of about 60 to 70 percent per cycle for a woman in her for forties, affording many women more time to conceive on their schedule. (Use of embryos, in which neither of the parents' genetic material is used, has about the same success rate.) It can be an incredible rewarding experience, but not one taken lightly or done to halt the pain of infertility. "I tell patients I never want them to move on to egg donation until they let go of this dream of a genetic child between them and their partner," Dr. Domar says. "Otherwise it's not fair to the child because the odds are you're going to get pregnant." Once you go down that path, you may find you're so close to the child you completely forget about the lack of genetic ties. "Patients who have used egg donations tell me, 'I'm unable to love a child more than I love this one," Dr. Domar says. "As one woman put it, 'This baby is 50 percent my husband and 50 percent the donor, but he's 100 percent mine.'"
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