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Many women are waiting to have children until their late 30’s and early 40’s. While we are wise, grounded, and settled after 40, we are also on what many statistically describe as a steep downhill slope in our fertility. The beauty of living in the 21st century is the availability of many forms of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology). In addition to ground-breaking science, we have millenia-old wisdom about how to cultivate our fertility well beyond the trials and tribulations of our 20’s.
So what DOES it take to be fertile after forty? Are there any guarentees we can lasso into our reproductive lives? Are there things we could have done in our 20’s and 30’s to preserve our sexual longevity? If you are single, career-driven, travel-hungry, and anywhere over the the age of 25, read on to find out what it takes to be fertile after forty.
The overriding concern in terms of aging and our fertility is the inevitable decline in egg quality. While there are stories of women who reproduce in their 60’s and 70’s in Chinese taoist folklore, we don’t see much of this in our daily reality. For most women, after the age of 40, each year brings a notable decline in the average quality of women’s eggs. When the quality of an egg is poor, the likelihood of a healthy conception and live birth are greatly reduced.
If you are in your late 30’s or early 40’s as you are reading this, do not despair. While there are certainly genetic factors at play in your fertility, and while there are equally a handful of variables determined by lifestyle factors in your first few decades of living, there are also some key health points to consider in terms of making the very best of what you have.
What can you do to increase your chances of being fertile after forty?
Believe it or not, and contrary to mainstream thought, there is a golden septet of lifestyle choices you can make to preserve your reproductive power and to improve your egg quality in the years leading up to and including your early 40’s.
Eat the Right Foods
Certain foods specifically enhance fertility and boost egg quality. Seafood, salmon roe, caviar, liver, and egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens are among the list-toppers. This means choosing foods from the list on a daily basis (not necessarily caviar EVERY day, but at least 2 foods from this list on a daily basis will increase your odds of fertility). Why these foods? The specific nutrient densities of these foods are off the charts.
Especially smoking cigarettes, using street drugs, and drinking excess alcohol. Fertility asks that we adopt a moderate lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid alcohol by any means, but keeping your drinking to a modest level may be a key factor in preserving the quality of your eggs. Environmental pollutants are also important to consider, as chemicals enter our blood stream often before we can even detect they are in the environment. No need to panic about this, but avoiding harsh chemicals in our environments is key to overall health and reproductive health as well.
DE-STRESS Your Body and Your Life
It is common knowledge that stress is the number one factor in health and disease. But what exactly ISstress and what can you do about it? Sit down now and make a list of your top stresses. If this assignment baffles you, try making a list of your top concerns. Don’t stop until you have covered everything. Now make two columns – one for things you CAN do something about (eg, I need to balance my checkbook or I need to get my taxes done), and one for things that are beyond your current control (eg, the government shutdown or the weather). You can enlist a friend or loved one to help you brainstorm solutions for the solvable concerns. Do your best to let go of the ones you cannot help. Then follow through. Also, avoid creating excess stress in your life as much as possible.
And most importantly, because life happens and things will come up that create tension and concern for all of us, find activities that give you an experience of relaxation and relief from stress. Stress-relieving activities are the key to the fountain of youth. Find things that fill you with joy and make you SMILE. Does this sound crazy to you? Then it’s definitely time you got out and tried some new things or at the very least get back to that activity you used to love long ago.
Practice Chi Gong
Chi gong has been used for centuries to preserve and enhance the life force. Deep breathing and slow movements that ride the breath like a wave make this moving-meditation accessible to everyone. Chi gong opens the acupuncture meridians and circulates energy through the reproductive channels. Do not question the power of this practice. Even if it seems strange at first, I urge you to stick with it. For fertility-specific chi gong exercises, you can purchase my ebook here; inside I have detailed photographs and instructions on how to use chi gong to boost your egg power.
During the eight or so hours of sleep we need each night our bodies are hard at work. While sleep allows the mind to rest and promotes relaxation (hence it nurtures the shen, or spirit, and nourishes the heart), it also provides an ideal time for the liver to do it’s heavy work of detoxification. The lung is also at work starting at around 3am. The liver and lung are big players in reproductive health, so giving these organs sufficient time to carry out their work is key in ensuring their health, as well as balanced hormones and a strong metabolism. To find out how to deal with insomnia naturally, check out this ebook by my friend Emily. To learn more about balancing your metabolism, I highly recommend reading Elizabeth Walling’s ebook The Nourished Metabolism.
No, not in the shower, and no, not in 90 degree heat, but any other time, especially if your feet feel at all cold to the touch, wearing socks is an ancient chinese secret for preserving the jing, or reproductive essence. If you can stand it, try wearing socks to bed. The bottom of the foot is where the kidney channel begins, and the kidney channel is considered the root of the body and the root of reproductive energy to boot. This will also enhance your energy and boost your metabolism. Looking for some fuzzy around-the-house-socks? Check these out! My favorite.
Taoist meditation is rumored to allow women to preserve their egg health into their mid-seventies! This is because meditation not only relaxes the brain, but also opens up the deepest channels of energy within the body. The deep meridians travel through the uterus and ovaries, and breathing into them circulates nutrients and energy to these organs and in turn, empowers them to optimal health. Simple meditation will work wonders on your life and boost the quality of your eggs. Spending 10 to 20 minutes per day sitting and observing your breath, or even counting your breaths, will quiet your mind, calm your heart, and relax your body. If you have a very hard time quieting your mind or relaxing, try keeping a pen and paper handy. You can experiment with writing those thoughts down so you can review them later. After a week or so of this writing down, you will no longer need to do so.
In the Chinese medical community it is generally agreed that these actions, in addition to getting regular acupuncture and taking herbs, can increase your fertility and chances of getting pregnant before the age of 44 by up to 60%. That’s a 60% greater likelihood of optimal fertility with these lifestyle recommendations.
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