March is a very significant month in my fertility journey. I always reflect during the month of March about how fortunate I am and how far I’ve come in this journey. In March 2012, I got pregnant for the very first time. It was our second month trying to conceive – when I found out I was pregnant I was like, Holy cow! That was easy!
Little did I know. Unfortunately, after my miscarriage and subsequent diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve I wised up and learned that my husband and I were among the 1 in 8 couples faced with infertility, and that infertility affects about 10% of the U.S. population. This is a higher percentage of the population than is affected with HIV.
But it’s not just an issue affecting the U.S. According to the United Nations, global fertility has declined over the last few decades and has reached “unprecedented low levels.” In 2015, the UN estimated that 46% (almost half) of the world’s population now live in countries with low levels of fertility, which includes all of Europe and North America, and many countries in Asia and Latin America/the Caribbean. Another 46% (again, almost half) live in “intermediate fertility” countries, those that have experienced substantial fertility declines.
In developing countries the numbers are even higher, with infertility affecting an astounding 1 in 4 couples, according to the World Health Organization. Those are some crazy ass statistics. My story has a happy ending, though. In March 2013, I conceived my son through intrauterine insemination (IUI). It was a month before my 43rd birthday.
Yes, just a year later I defied the odds. I was an over-40 woman with Diminished Ovarian Reserve and who’d never had a baby before. I was told I had less than a 2% chance of getting pregnant and having a baby with my own eggs. I was told to have IVF using eggs from a donor if I wanted to have a child.
I did a lot to improve my chances of conceiving. I was already living a relatively healthy lifestyle, but still found areas in my life where I could improve:
I cleaned up my diet, cutting out a lot of sugar and processed foods, eating more whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and cooking at home more than eating out.
I started taking a prenatal vitamin, calcium and vitamin D supplements. Seems pretty basic but very effective in boosting my overall health. I wasn’t taking a vitamin regularly. I also researched natural supplements to improve fertility, and would have likely incorporated them had I not been so fortunate to get pregnant so quickly. They have tremendous power in helping us achieve optimal health.
I read everything I could get my hands on to educate myself about women’s health, fertility, trying to conceive, and reproduction. This helped me learn how to track my cycles and learn about my own body.
I got my body moving, faithfully continuing my longstanding yoga practice, and seeking out additional forms of exercise.
I researched holistic remedies, including acupuncture, fertility massage and reflexology. The one that resonated most with me was reflexology, and a few months before I successfully conceived, began regularly working with a reflexologist.
I started going to bed earlier and reduced the stress in my life. This is a hard one for lots of us. Our society is so busy that oftentimes the only time we can get things done is at night, forcing us to stay up later and get less sleep. I noticed that when I went to bed earlier I slept better and I handled my stress better. I had also, a few months before I started trying to conceive, changed jobs and my new job was much less stressful. I didn’t plan the job switch in anticipation of trying to conceive, most of us don’t have that luxury – but if you can find ways to manage stress in your job and your life, it will do wonders for your fertility journey.
I set my clear intention that I would be a mother. Yes, there were times when I questioned whether or not it would happen for me. But the mind is a powerful thing, and I never wavered from my steadfast intention and belief that my husband and I would be parents.
I know I’m one of the lucky ones – I reflect on this every day, especially in March. But it wasn’t just luck, it took a lot of effort, persistence and life changes. I took some action, no matter how small, each day toward my intention of becoming a mother.
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Fertility Consultant & Coach