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Women who began their families later in life share the rewards - and regrets - of delayed motherhood

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Love, Mom and Me
Dr. Abigail Mahoney of Peoria always knew she wanted children. But professional aspirations - including four years of podiatry school in Chicago and a three-year residency in Washington, D.C. - meant she delayed childbirth until age 36.

Valerie Hammond of Marquette Heights married early in life but chose not to have children. Her nieces and nephews were the kids in her life. But after a second marriage, she and her husband started trying. Her son was born two weeks before her 41st birthday.

Jennifer Hogsett's parents were 43 and 45 when she was born. She has strong feelings about having children later in life, but three years after she married her former husband at 29, they decided to start a family. At 37, she's now a single mother of a 4-year-old and 2-year-old in Dunlap.

Sherri Wright of Pekin had trouble adjusting to life as a parent after having two girls 15 months apart in her late 30s. For me, it's a tougher adjustment because I had so many years of being able to go where I want and do what I want, and I didn't have to answer to anybody, she said.

These four Peoria-area women are among many today who, for a variety of reasons, are having children later in life.

Here are their stories.

Career came first

Image: Between Mom and Me: A Guided Journal for Mother and Son (Easter Basket Stuffers, Gifts for Boys 8-12, Journals for Boys, Unique Mothers Day Gifts) | Paperback: 144 pages | by Katie Clemons (Author). Publisher: Sourcebooks Explore (March 1, 2019)
Between Mom and Me
There was a time in Abigail Mahoney's life when she didn't know if her dream of having a family would ever materialize. She was in her early 30s, preparing for a career as a doctor. Her days were consumed with work and study. And the right man hadn't come along.

She met John Mahoney, a hand surgeon, at age 35. They married a year later and started trying to have children immediately. As doctors, they both knew the potential risks involved with having children past a certain age.

Those eggs weren't getting any younger, she said. We felt like our best chance for (having a family) was right away.
Beyond age 35, pregnant women are considered of advanced maternal age and special precautions are taken, Mahoney said. The older the mother, the greater the chance for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome. The Mahoneys also knew getting pregnant could be more difficult.

But it happened quickly - with no miscarriages.

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Baby Heaven Memorial Ornament
Mahoney had Jack at age 36 and wasted no time trying for a second, Graham, who arrived 15 months later.

We really didn't think we had the luxury of waiting three years, she said. We're not going to have a third (child). We're thinking about adopting, and that's purely because of my age.
Both pregnancies were normal, although Jack came a month early. The Mahoneys chose not to have an amniocentesis to check for genetic defects. Instead, Abigail had a relatively new procedure called a nuchal ultrasound to check for any irregularities. The results wouldn't have changed the couple's decision to have the baby, Abigail said.

If you're not going to change your course, it's probably not necessary to do any of (the tests). But when it's happening to you, you want to know everything, she said.

We just feel so lucky to have had them right away. Everyone's healthy.

Today Jack is 2 and Graham is 1. Abigail, 39, works as a podiatrist in Peoria three days a week. She said the family's scenario is not unlike those of many of their friends and colleagues who also took time to establish careers before having children.

Sometimes they wonder if they would have had more energy in their 20s, Abigail said.

Their conclusion: Parenting is hard no matter what your age.

Second chance

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Rainbow Baby Gifts
Valerie Hammond had no children with her first husband. She remarried at age 38. After thinking it through - even writing a list of pros and cons - she and her husband, Dennis, tried for more than two years to conceive.

Hammond had several miscarriages. After one in the spring of 2003, the couple decided to try naturally one more time. She did not want to use fertility drugs.

She became pregnant with Dalton, now 3, about two months later. The pregnancy was considered high-risk.

Being over 40, they panicked me all through my pregnancy, Hammond said. I spent a lot of time there really nervous.
A little more than four months into the pregnancy, a test came back indicating the baby could have spina bifida, or incomplete closure of the spinal column. Hammond had sonograms every two weeks.

But Dalton was born - perfectly healthy - on Valentine's Day in 2004.

On a recent summer evening, the blond-haired, blue-eyed boy dashed from one activity to the next - keeping a balloon afloat, peering through his binoculars, putting on his bike helmet.

One thing about having a child this late in life, I know what a true blessing he is. I have much more patience than I would have had in my 20s, and I also realize that I don't have to kill myself to be super mom, Hammond wrote to the Journal Star. If the floor doesn't get swept today because we are reading a book or finger painting, it will still be there tomorrow.
Between working full time, coaching girls' softball at EastSide Centre and caring for an energetic 3-year-old, the 44-year-old admits life is hectic.

I won't say they don't wear you out, she said.

But Hammond was ready for the challenge. She had freedom in her youth to do what she wanted - unlike classmates who had children right after high school and often leaned on their parents to help raise them. She also says she's more financially stable.

Hammond said she's run into several other mothers in her softball circle who had children later in life with a second husband, whether they had kids before or not.

I do think it's becoming more common, she said.

Is that your grandma?

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Baby Loss Gifts
Jennifer Hogsett knows what it's like to have older parents. Her father wasn't able to attend her high school graduation because he was 64 with heart problems. He died the following year.

She remembers how her parents wouldn't go on the rides with her at amusement parks - and the inquisitive questions from classmates.

In second or third grade, I can remember my father had come to school and (someone) said, 'Oh, is that your grandpa?' I was devastated. I was just so embarrassed, Hogsett said.

By her late 20s, Hogsett didn't think she'd ever marry and have children herself.

I just thought I was going to work, be independent, do my own thing, she said. Even after marriage, she and her now-ex-husband waited three years before they thought about having kids.

Initially, they planned to have one child. But after her son, now 4, was born when Hogsett was 32, she thought it might be nice for him to have a playmate close in age. Her daughter, now 2, came when Hogsett was just about to turn 35.

Because of her childhood experiences, Hogsett says she has strong feelings about having children later in life. She said she feels she's at the high end of what's ideal.

You have to do obviously what's right for you and your situation, but there has to be a happy medium where you're not young and immature, you have some knowledge of how the world works, but you're not so old that you won't be able to attend your child's graduation, she said. I have (older) friends who don't have kids and I'm, like, 'Oh, I hope you aren't thinking about having them now.'

About a year after Hogsett's daughter was born, her marriage dissolved. Being a single 37-year-old mother comes with certain sacrifices, she says.

Her recent job choices, for example, have been based on the hours and location more than anything else.

It is a daily struggle to make ends meet with one income and two rapidly growing children, she wrote to the Journal Star. There are days I wish I would have had them when I was younger so I would have more energy, but mostly I am grateful that I waited because I feel like I have more wisdom than if I would have had them in my early 20s.

Still, her parents weren't there to share in the lives of her young children. Her mother was 70 with Alzheimer's when she was pregnant. "She didn't go baby shopping with me," Hogsett said.

Tough adjustment

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Memorial Jewelry
Sherri Wright of Pekin has mixed feelings about the decision to have children later in life.

I had my first child at age 37 and my second 15 months later. Sometimes I am glad I waited until I was older and my marriage was stable. Sometimes I wish I hadn't had them at all, that I was too old, she wrote to the Journal Star. It gets frustrating being called 'grandma' or being older than (my children's) teachers.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my children and wouldn't want anything to happen to them, she said later. But I think I would have been much happier had I not had any children.

I feel so guilty for being selfish, she said. I feel really guilty that I'm not Carol Brady.
But Wright said she doesn't feel like she's the only one out there who might feel the same way.

Society says that once you're married, you're supposed to have kids. I felt like I was a woman, I was supposed to. Everybody said, 'Now you're married; you're supposed to have kids,' she said.

Wright and her husband went through three years of infertility treatments before she became pregnant. Once she started the treatments, she said it was hard to stop without success. The couple tried artificial insemination again for a second child when Wright's husband, who's in the military, learned he'd have to go to Iraq. Two weeks after she became pregnant, her husband found out he wasn't going overseas.

Wright was nearly 300 pounds when she gave birth to her second daughter. She later had gastric bypass surgery and is now able to do many of the things she couldn't earlier in life - but she also has new responsibilities.

At this point in my life, all my other friends, their kids are in high school and they don't have to find the baby sitters, said Wright, 41. The women who have kids my age, they're in their 20s, so we have nothing in common.

But there is hope.

As my older daughter is getting older and we can do things together, it's getting a lot better. So hopefully as they get older we can bond more, she said.


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:
What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir
What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir
by Alice Eve Cohen
--A personal and medical odyssey beyond anything most women would believe possible

At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years.

After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancΓ© that she's never been happier. And then the stomach pains begin.

In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb - six months into a high-risk pregnancy.

What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate.

With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today's society.

Timely and compelling, What I Thought I Knew will capture readers of memoirs such as Eat, Pray, Love; The Glass Castle; and A Three Dog Life.

πŸ“š Paperback: 208 pages
Click to order/for more info: What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir

πŸ“š Start reading What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir on your Kindle in under a minute!

πŸ“š Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.
Image: Walking with Grandma, by KristΓ½na MatlachovΓ‘ on Pixabay
Why are more and more women today opting to become mothers in their forties, and even as late as fifty?

What are the risks and what are the benefits?

Read on for some questions, some conceived in ignorance and others from semi-intelligent observation.

Psychologically speaking (through the eyes of a non-psychologist), there is always going to be someone who will tell the older mother she is crazy to consider having a baby later in life.

Ultimately, however, it is only the mother-to-be who has to make the choice and answer for it.

The desire to be a mother is no different at forty-five than at twenty-five.

And why shouldn't it be fulfilled, as long as the mother can provide for the child, and give it what it needs to grow up to be a responsible adult?

And so to those who ask why, you should say: Because.

To those who ask how, you should reply: the usual way.

And like the true color of one's hair and size of one's bank account, whose business and life is it anyway?

Source: Change of Life Babies: Do They Really?, by Marjorie Dorfman


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:
Inconceivable
Inconceivable: A Woman's Triumph over Despair and Statistics
by Julia Indichova

-- A memoir of hope for the thousands of women struggling with infertility, from one who beat the odds by simply tuning in to her body and tapping her well of sheer determination.

At a time when more and more women are trying to get pregnant at increasingly advanced ages, fertility specialists and homeopathic researchers boast endless treatment options.

But when Julia Indichova made the rounds of medical doctors and nontraditional healers, she was still unable to conceive a child.

It was only when she forsook their financially and emotionally draining advice, turning inward instead, that she finally met with reproductive success. Inconceivable recounts this journey from hopeless diagnoses to elated motherhood.

Anyone who has faced infertility will relate to Julia's desperate measures: acupuncture, unidentifiable black-and-white pellets, herb soup, foul-smelling fruit, even making love on red sheets.

Five reproductive endocrinologists told her that there was no documented case of anyone in her hormonal condition getting pregnant, forcing her to finally embark on her own intuitive regimen.

After eight caffeine-free, nutrient-rich, yoga-laden months, complemented by visualization exercises, Julia received amazing news; incredibly, she was pregnant.

Nine months later she gave birth to a healthy girl.

πŸ“š Paperback: 244 pages
Click to order/for more info: Inconceivable

πŸ“š Start reading Inconceivable on your Kindle in under a minute!

πŸ“š Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.
Image: Photo credit: Fertility Lizard, by Andrea Wren, on Flickr

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Fertility Supplement Bundle
Our diet is one of the most important factors when it comes to trying to have a baby. Making sure we watch what we eat then is vital if we want to ensure we maximize our fertility chances.

However, even if you have been the type of person who has always remained fit and health and watched what you ate, you may still have problems trying to conceive. This is because the human body can play tricks with us.

So, making sure that you create the most fertile environment possible is your number 1 aim if you are trying to have a baby.

One way that you can use to maximize the chances you have of having a baby is to make sure you use natural fertility treatment supplements when you are trying to get pregnant. Each type of natural fertility treatment supplement will vary depending on whether it is the man taking the natural fertility treatment supplement or the woman.
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Conception Men Fertility Vitamins

Men

Typically good natural fertility treatment supplements for men include Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Potassium, Zinc, and Selenium. Of particular importance to helping in the male fertility treatment are:

Vitamin B5 and Zinc are needed in order for the testes to be healthy and to encourage a high sperm count. It should also be noted that if you have a zinc deficiency this can lead to low levels of testosterone and chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm.

Vitamin B12 and Potassium are needed to help the male sperm mobility.

Selenium is needed to help produce male sperm. A lack of selenium levels in the body is one of the most common reasons why males have low sperm counts.
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Conception Fertility Vitamins

Women

Unlike males, nearly all natural fertility treatment supplements are of importance and have some form of role to play. Nonetheless, of particular importance are:

Vitamin A as this helps keep the Fallopian tubes healthy.

Vitamin B as a lack of Vitamin B levels may result in a miscarriage following pregnancy.

Calcium as this produces fertile mucus in the vagina

Magnesium as a lack of magnesium levels will result in probable problems with the Fallopian tubes

Zinc which happens to be one of the most important natural fertility health supplements.

The wonderful additional aspect of taking natural fertility supplements is that not only do they help you to achieve your primary aim of conceiving a child, but they also help to give you extra zest and energy. As such, if you continue to take the correct natural supplements after you have conceived you'll find the normal problems associated with being pregnant, such a fatigue and general tiredness, far less worrisome.

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Couple's Fertility Combo
That said, pregnant women do need to be careful which vitamin supplements they are taking during pregnancy, so make sure you consult with your physician first to ensure you are not going to be causing yourself and your baby any problems.

As far as how you take these natural fertility substances, you can either digest these as vitamin supplement pills or as part of your regular diet. It's not so much the manner of the consumption, provided you know that the body is getting what it needs in order to maximize your chances of conceiving a child.

Author: Melvin Ng


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:

Eat, Love, Get Pregnant: A Couple's Guide To Boosting Fertility and Having A Healthy Baby
by Karen Daniels

-- A breakthrough revolutionary plan for getting pregnant fast, solving common fertility problems and having a healthy baby – this is NOT your average book on getting pregnant!

Renowned fertility expert Dr. Niels Lauersen and women's wellness expert Colette Bouchez help readers take charge of their fertility with a revolutionary new self-help plan designed to show couples how to work together to boost their conception odds, plan for a healthy pregnancy, and get pregnant faster – all without the use of expensive fertility treatments or medications.

Based on scientific research and tested on thousands of couples Eat-Love- GET PREGNANT is a simple yet revolutionary plan that provides the quintessential missing link absent from most other fertility programs – namely, the importance of not only boosting both male and female fertility simultaneously but bold new evidence showing how, when couples work together in certain special and unique ways, they can create a unified fertility power boost strong enough to take them from infertile to fertile in as little as three months

πŸ“š Paperback: 116 pages
Click to order/for more info: Eat, Love, Get Pregnant

πŸ“š Start reading Eat, Love, Get Pregnant on your Kindle in under a minute!

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Image: Institute of Reproductive Health | TwoDay Method | How does TwoDay Method work?

A simple way of establishing on which days in a woman's menstrual cycle she is fertile has been identified by US and Italian fertility experts, according to research published in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction,* today.

Analyzing cervical secretion and time to pregnancy data obtained from a large multinational European database – the European Study of Daily Fecund-ability - they were able to demonstrate that intercourse is unlikely to result in a conception if vaginal dampness is not noticeable on that day or the day before.

All a woman has to do is to notice when she has any vaginal dampness, not associated with menstruation, intercourse or disease. Women wishing to avoid pregnancy should avoid unprotected intercourse unless they have not had vaginal dampness for 2 days.

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This algorithm, which was developed by the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, is called the TwoDay method. The research teams used their data to analyze the relationship between the presence of noticeable secretions and the daily probabilities of pregnancy in cycles when intercourse was on a given day relative to the identified ovulation day.

The TwoDay method differs from other symptom-based natural family planning methods in that it is not necessary to keep detailed records of cervical mucus characteristics and basal body temperature. This simple algorithm may outperform expensive urinary kits, which can miss the majority of the fertile interval that occurs one or more days prior to ovulation.

Dr David Dunson of the Biostatistics Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina said: This method is effective, both in identifying the fertile days of the cycle and in predicting days within that fertile interval that have a high pregnancy rate. It's the first direct evidence that cervical secretions are associated with higher fecund-ability within the fertile window.

For couples of normal fertility having intercourse two days prior to ovulation on the most fertile day of the cycle, the probability of pregnancy is essentially doubled from 0.18 (18%) if secretions have not been noticed in the last two days to 0.33 (one third) if secretions have been noticed. A normal couple who abstains from intercourse during the days classified as fertile by our system would have around an 8% chance of becoming pregnant within a year of frequent intercourse – compared with a 97% chance for a couple not following our system.

*The relationship between cervical secretions and the daily probabilities of pregnancy: effectiveness of the TwoDay Algorithm. Human Reproduction Vol. 16. No. 11. pp 2278-2282. D.B. Dunson, I.Sinai, B Columbo. Biostatistics Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, North Carolina; Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University, Washington DC, Department of Statistics, University of Padua.

This story has been adapted from a news release issued by European Society For Human Reproduction And Embryology.

Source: TwoDay Method | Institute of Reproductive Health


Fact Sheet: TwoDay Method®

TwoDay Method: Top 15 Most Frequently Asked Questions

TwoDay Method Provider Screening Checklist: ENGLISH | SPANISH

TwoDay Method Client Brochure: ENGLISH | SPANISH

TwoDay Method Client Recording Card: ENGLISH | SPANISH


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:
Image: What Every Woman Should Know About Fertility and Her Biological Clock, by Cara Birrittieri. Publisher: Career Press (May 26, 2009)
What Every Woman Should Know
What Every Woman Should Know About Fertility and Her Biological Clock
by Cara Birrittieri

-- Until now, there has been little practical advice on what women can do about ticking biological clocks.

What Every Woman Should Know About Her Biological Clock is the first book to explore a woman's reproductive lifespan completely, from beginning to end.

Based on Cara Birrittieri's own experience of running up against a slowing biological clock, she shows women for the first time how to tell what time it is with a simple blood test that gives them a peek at the state of their ovaries.

πŸ“š Paperback: 224 pages
Click to order/for more info: What Every Woman Should Know About Fertility and Her Biological Clock
Image: Sperm Count Recipe Ayurvedic, by Kamikaze Gecko on Flickr

This plan can help many over 40 women:

πŸ›️ If you don't have fertile-quality cervical mucus, the sperm may only last 2 hours.
πŸ›️ Older men sometimes can't perform as often.
πŸ›️ Older men sometimes have lower sperm counts.
πŸ›️ The sperm needs to be there, waiting, before your egg is released. So you need to start trying before your OPK turns positive.
πŸ›️ Regular sex increases his testosterone, his sperm count, and your cervical mucus and helps ramp up your hormones, especially estrogen - getting everything working well.

The Plan - Short Version:

πŸ›️ Try every other night starting Day 8
πŸ›️ Buy 10 ovulation predictor kit sticks
πŸ›️ Begin ovulation testing on Day 10
πŸ›️ When test is positive, try that night, plus two additional nights in a row
πŸ›️ Skip one night, then do one last try
πŸ›️ Take a home pregnancy test 15 days after your ovulation test was positive, if your period has not begun
πŸ›️ If your ovulation test never goes positive, continue trying every other night until Day 35, then do a pregnancy test if your period has not begun.

For the Detailed Version, read the full article: The Sperm Meets Egg Plan

How Sexual Frequency Affects a Woman's Sexual Responsiveness, Fertility, and Health

πŸ›️ The less often a woman has sex, the less she will want sex, the less she will enjoy sex, and the more difficult it will be for her to become aroused and climax.

πŸ›️ Women who had sex two or more times a week had the most regular cycles, women who had sex once a week was slightly less regular, celibate women were still less regular, and women who had sporadic sex, or sex less than once a week, had the most irregular cycles. A variety of hormonal differences were seen, including higher estrogen levels in the women who had regular sex.

πŸ›️ The benefits of the hormonal changes in those having intercourse at least twice a week include better fertility, stronger bones, better cardiovascular health, less depression, lower incidence of fibrocystic breast disease and uterine cancer, and a decrease in menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and depression.

Photo credit: Sperm Count Recipe Ayurvedic, by Kamikaze Gecko


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:
The Sperm Meets Egg Plan: Getting Pregnant Faster
by Deanna Roy
-- The Sperm Meets Egg Plan is a step-by-step guide to achieving pregnancy without taking invasive tests, charting temperatures, or making mistakes in predicting your ovulation that result in mistimed attempts at fertilization.

Designed by Deanna Roy after months of trying made her believe she had a fertility problem, the plan will help you time intercourse whether you have a typical or atypical cycle.

It includes adjustments for common fertility problems, what to do if you are over forty, and considerations for trying again after a pregnancy loss.

This booklet includes 40 pages of instruction plus a 10-page sneak peek of Deanna's book Baby Dust. It should be a free download.

This FREE booklet is a THANK YOU to all the women who have supported Deanna's web site since the loss of her first baby in 1998.

πŸ“š Start reading The Sperm Meets Egg Plan on your Kindle in under a minute!

πŸ“š Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.
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Fertility Supplement Bundle

Vitamin supplements help fertility in women:

Taking multivitamins, particularly folic acid, can improve chances of pregnancy in couples having difficulty conceiving. Women who took multivitamin supplements 6 times a week were 40% less likely to fail to ovulate than women who took none.

In the UK, women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid (one of several different B vitamins) every day while trying to conceive, and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 1000 micrograms of folic acid daily are the safe upper limit. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has proposed adding folic acid to the nutrients currently used to fortify white flour, as has happened in the US since 1988.

Researchers said the beneficial benefits seem to derive from folic acid, which helps prevent birth defects, 'The beneficial effect on fertility continued to increase as women consumed higher amounts of folic acid'. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables and liver.

Read more: Vitamin supplements help fertility in women

Supplements:

There is now a great deal of scientific knowledge about the use of nutritional supplements and their beneficial effects on both male and female fertility. As you will see, these supplements can be very effective in re-balancing your hormones, as well as improving you and your partner's overall health, which is so vital for successful conception.

Supplements are necessary because even the best diet in the world will not contain all the nutrients you need to give you the best chance of conceiving.
Image: Nutricost Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) 1000 mcg, 240 Capsules
Nutricost Folic Acid

Folic Acid

It is now known folic acid can prevent spina bifida in your baby, and it is essential you get plenty both before and during pregnancy. And that's not all: folic acid is undoubtedly important, but it is just part of the very important B-complex family of vitamins necessary to produce the genetic materials DNA and RNA. Together with vitamin B12, folic acid works to ensure your baby's genetic codes are intact.

Remember: it's not enough to take folic acid alone when you are trying to become pregnant. All of the B vitamins are essential during the pre-conceptual period. Research has shown giving B6 to women who have trouble conceiving increases fertility and vitamin B12 has been found to improve low sperm counts.
Image: Nutricost Zinc Picolinate 50mg, 240 Vegetarian Capsules - Gluten Free and Non-GMO (240 Caps)
Nutricost Zinc

Zinc

Zinc is the most widely studied nutrient in terms of fertility for both men and women. It is an essential component of genetic material and a zinc deficiency can cause chromosome changes in either you or our partner, leading to reduced fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. Zinc is necessary for your body to attract and hold (utilize efficiently) the reproductive hormones, oestrogen, and progesterone.

And it's equally important for your partner: Zinc is found in high concentrations in the sperm. Zinc is needed to make the outer layer and tail of the sperm and is, therefore, essential for the health of your partner's sperm and, subsequently, your baby. Interestingly, several studies have also shown reducing zinc in a man's diet will also reduce his sperm count.
Image: Nutricost Selenium 200mcg, 240 Vegetarian Capsules, Non-GMO, Gluten Free L-Selenomethionine
Nutricost Selenium

Selenium

Selenium is an antioxidant which helps to protect your body from highly reactive chemical fragments called free radicals. For this reason, selenium can prevent chromosome breakage, which is known to be a cause of birth defects and miscarriages. Good levels of selenium are also essential to maximize sperm formation. Blood selenium levels have been found to be lower in men with low sperm counts.
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Triple Omega 3-6-9

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)

These essential fats have a profound effect on every system of the body, including the reproductive system and they are crucial for healthy hormone functioning. For men, essential fatty acid supplementation is crucial because the semen is rich in prostaglandins which are produced from these fats. Men with poor sperm quality, abnormal sperm, poor motility or low count, have inadequate levels of these beneficial prostaglandins.
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NATURELO Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant and has been shown to increase fertility when given to both men and women. Men going for IVF treatment with their partners have been given vitamin E, and fertilization rates have, as a result, increased from 19 to 29 percent. It has been suggested the antioxidant activity of vitamin E might make the sperm more fertile.
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Vitamin C with Rose Hips

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, and studies show vitamin C enhances sperm quality, protecting sperm and the DNA within it from damage. Some research has indicated certain types of DNA damage in the sperm can make it difficult to conceive in the first place, or it can cause an increased risk of miscarriage if conception does take place. If DNA is damaged, there may be a chromosomal problem in the baby, should the pregnancy proceed. Whether or not DNA damage does have these effects has not been conclusively proven, but it's worth taking vitamin C and the other antioxidants as a precautionary measure.

Vitamin C also appears to keep the sperm from clumping together, making them more motile.
One study has shown women taking the drug clomiphene to stimulate ovulation will have a better chance of ovulating if vitamin C is taken alongside the drug. Clomiphene does not always work for every woman, but the chances are often increased when vitamin C is supplemented.
Image: Nutricost L-Arginine 1000mg, Amino Acid Tablets (300 Tablets)
Nutricost L-Arginine

L-Arginine

This is an amino acid found in many foods and the head of the sperm contains an exceptional amount of this nutrient, which is essential for sperm production. Supplementing with L-arginine can help to increase both the sperm count and quality.

Note: People who have herpes attacks (either cold sores or genital herpes) should not supplement with arginine because it stimulates the virus.
Image: Nutricost L-Carnitine Tartrate Powder (100 Grams) - 1 Gram per Serving; 100 Servings
Nutricost L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine

This amino acid is essential for normal functioning of sperm cells. According to research, it appears the higher the levels of L-Carnitine in the sperm cells, the better the sperm count and motility.
Image: Nutricost Vitamin A 10,000 IU, 500 Softgel Capsules
Nutricost Vitamin A

Vitamin A

This vitamin needs to be mentioned because there is a lot of confusion about its use before and after pregnancy. Many health practitioners now advise no vitamin A is taken during pregnancy. This advice is incorrect, and it can be dangerous to assume any vitamin or other nutrients should be avoided during the gestational period. Vitamin A has important antioxidant properties, and the consequences of Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy can be devastating. For one thing, vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes. Animals studies show vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy has produced new-born animals with no eyes, eye defects, undescended testes, and diaphragmatic hernias.

It is only when the vitamin A is in the form of retinol (in other words, the animal form of vitamin A) there is a problem. It has been found retinol can cause birth defects if taken in excess of 10,000iu a day. Beta-carotene, which is one of the vegetable forms of vitamin A, does not carry any risks.

Read more: How to increase your chances of conceiving and preventing miscarriages


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:

Eat, Love, Get Pregnant: A Couple's Guide To Boosting Fertility and Having A Healthy Baby
by Karen Daniels

-- A breakthrough revolutionary plan for getting pregnant fast, solving common fertility problems and having a healthy baby – this is NOT your average book on getting pregnant!

Renowned fertility expert Dr. Niels Lauersen and women's wellness expert Colette Bouchez help readers take charge of their fertility with a revolutionary new self-help plan designed to show couples how to work together to boost their conception odds, plan for a healthy pregnancy, and get pregnant faster – all without the use of expensive fertility treatments or medications.

Based on scientific research and tested on thousands of couples Eat-Love- GET PREGNANT is a simple yet revolutionary plan that provides the quintessential missing link absent from most other fertility programs – namely, the importance of not only boosting both male and female fertility simultaneously but bold new evidence showing how, when couples work together in certain special and unique ways, they can create a unified fertility power boost strong enough to take them from infertile to fertile in as little as three months

πŸ“š Paperback: 116 pages
Click to order/for more info: Eat, Love, Get Pregnant

πŸ“š Start reading Eat, Love, Get Pregnant on your Kindle in under a minute!

πŸ“š Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.
Image: Mom-to-Be, by Fotografyarte on Pixabay
Infertility affects more than 6 million people in the United States alone, or 1 out of every 6 couples, according to Lafayette-based Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado.

And despite a common fallacy -- it's a woman's problem -- fertility difficulties are equally as likely to be caused by male difficulties. It is a combined issue in about 20 percent of infertility cases, Conceptions says.

For women, it is most commonly a problem with ovulation, according to Robyn Curtis, with the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, which has a Louisville office.

For men, it is mostly sperm health or motility, Curtis says.

But there are so many other influencing factors - dealing with a difficult conception can feel like a guessing game, says McGinnis, the new Boulder mom. That's why she recommends getting professional help after one year of trying -- and sticking to research-proven advice such as staying away from cigarettes and minimizing stress.

We've solicited the expertise of a spectrum of experts: a local acupuncturist, nutritionist-dietitians, reproductive endocrinologist-ObGyn, reproductive clinic, physician, Chinese herbal medicine practitioner, and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, as well as the results from some studies and a nontraditional pharmacy.

Here's their take on some wives' tales -- and some truths.

Enhancing fertility

Drink raspberry leaf tea. FALSE.
-- This tea may promote uterine health after you're pregnant, but does nothing for fertility. (Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy)

Have sex during a full moon. FALSE.
-- Menstrual cycles can coincide with the phases of the moon, but it doesn't matter if the moon's full if you're not ovulating. (Pharmaca)

Eat organic foods and drink purified water; eat alkaline foods. 
DEPENDS on whom you ask.
-- Acupuncturist Amy Dickinson says pesticides and herbicides in non-organic food can harm a woman's eggs, and food chemicals and additives often have estrogen-like substances that can throw the hormonal balance off.
Dickinson recommends alkaline foods, such as vegetables, non-citrus fruits, sprouts, and wheat grass. Acidic foods, such as sugar, dairy, and grains, can create an acidic cervical pH, which sperm don't like, she says. Plus, she says fruits and vegetables contain bioflavonoids, which help create healthy blood vessels that can help prevent miscarriage and prepare the uterus for implantation.

Physician Robert Gustofson, with the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Avista Hospital, says no food types have been shown to improve pregnancy probability. He says they won't harm your chances, however.

Be at a healthy body weight. TRUE.
-- Being overweight or underweight can have adverse effects.

Get acupuncture. TRUE.
-- Acupuncture increases the chances of implantation and increases blood circulation to the uterus. (Journal of Fertility and Sterility, 2003)

Adopt. FALSE.
-- Everyone knows someone who had adopted a child and then gotten pregnant, but research has not shown a connection.

Dream you are pregnant. FALSE.
-- Dreams are unrelated to fertility. (Gustofson)

Relax. TRUE.
-- Stress is a fertility killer. You need progesterone for pregnancy. When a body is stressed, it redirects to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, instead of creating progesterone. (Boulder acupuncturist Amy Dickinson)

Have sex 14 days after your period. FALSE.
-- Not every woman has a 28-day menstrual cycle with ovulation in the middle.

Have sex in a certain position. FALSE.
(Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine)

Be well rested. TRUE.
-- This helps combat stress. (Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado)

Diminishing fertility

You may adversely affect conception if:

You have sex in a swimming pool. FALSE. 
-- The chlorine will not kill all sperm. (Julie McGinnis, Boulder nutritionist, dietitian, and herbalist)

You douche after sex. FALSE.
-- There is no evidence douching will prevent pregnancy, even if you use certain essential oils or other liquids. (McGinnis)

You have sex while on your period. MAYBE.
-- The chances of ovulating while on your period are smaller, but you can still get pregnant.

The man was kicked hard in the groin while playing a sport. FALSE.
-- It's very unlikely a single traumatic event will result in sterility. The male system is pretty hardy. (Conceptions)

The woman is older than 35. FALSE.
-- In general, the chance of getting pregnant in one year is about 90 percent until age 34. It drops to 67 percent by age 40, and after age 45, it declines to 15 percent. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine) However, fertility varies with every woman.

The man is older than 35. FALSE.
-- Growing evidence suggests age may be a factor eventually, but the number and quality of sperm doesn't decline until after age 64. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

You're stressed. TRUE.
-- Stress can reduce sperm count and stop ovulation. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine and Conceptions)

You took birth control pills. FALSE.
-- A few months after you stop taking the pill, your body should be back to normal. (Conceptions)

Your mom took birth control pills. FALSE.
-- (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine)

You've already had one child. FALSE.
-- (Conceptions)

You had a C-section. FALSE.
-- Not unless it was complicated by something affecting the Fallopian tubes. (Conceptions)

You are breastfeeding. MAYBE.
-- It can decrease ovulatory function but doesn't stop it. It depends on the woman. (Conceptions)

You haven't re-started your period after childbirth. FALSE.
-- You can ovulate and not have your period first. (Conceptions)

You have diabetes. TRUE.
-- Good glycemic control prior to conception can decrease birth defects. And women with pre-diabetes glucose intolerance can have disrupted ovulation. (Conceptions)

You have had a heart attack or liver or kidney failure. TRUE.
-- Significant, life-threatening medical conditions may decrease the chance of pregnancy until treated or resolved. (Gustofson)

If the man masturbates a lot. TRUE.
-- Masturbation can temporarily lower sperm count. It cannot make you sterile. (McGinnis)

You have anal sex. TRUE.
-- Anal sperm deposition does not fertilize an egg in the uterus. (Gustofson)

The man spends a lot of time in saunas or hot tubs. TRUE.
-- Overheating may temporarily reduce sperm count. (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine)

The guy wears tight underwear. TRUE.
-- This can increase the temperature of the testes. (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine)

The man smokes cigarettes or marijuana. TRUE.
-- Smoking can reduce sperm count. (Infertility.about.com)

You drink alcohol. TRUE.
-- Excessive alcohol can damage sperm and eggs. (Infertility.about.com) More than two drinks a day can suppress hormones. Plus, the byproduct of alcohol is a toxin, and if it goes to the uterus, it doesn't enhance pregnancy rates. (Conceptions)

You drink a lot of caffeine. TRUE.
-- (Conceptions)

The man uses steroids. TRUE.
-- Steroids can severely impair sperm production. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

The man consumes too much vitamin C (more than 1,000 mg). FALSE.
-- Vitamin C will be urinated out if not absorbed. It does not necessarily acidify the semen or kill sperm. (Gustofson)

You unnecessarily take over-the-counter drugs, including ibuprofen. TRUE.
-- Ibuprofen can inhibit prostaglandins and inhibit ovulation. (Dickinson)

The woman has an iron deficiency. TRUE
at least for people with chronic anemia.
-- It can affect ovulation. (Conceptions)

Eating soy, which contains plant-based estrogens. FALSE.
-- There is no research showing a high-soy diet creates infertility. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

Using a cell phone. MAYBE.
-- One study by The Cleveland Clinic found men who used cell phones the most had poorer sperm quality than men who used them the least, but more research is needed.

You have an eating disorder. TRUE.
-- Too-low body fat levels can stop the reproductive process. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

You are a hard-core athlete. TRUE.
-- Low body fat can mean irregular periods. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

The man is an avid cyclist. TRUE.
-- For men, pressure from the bicycle seat can damage blood vessels and nerves. Mountain biking shocks the perineum and can injure the scrotum. One study found mountain biker men were more likely to have twisted veins in the scrotum, cysts or calcium deposits. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

You have a sexually transmitted infection. DEPENDS.
-- Chlamydia or gonorrhea are associated with male and female infertility. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine) HPV (human papillomavirus) typically is not, unless it is linked to cancer and the woman must have her cervix operated on. Herpes does not affect fertility. (Conceptions)

The woman has endometriosis. TRUE.
-- (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

The woman has thyroid problems. MAYBE
-- Too much or too little thyroid hormone can interrupt ovulation. (Conceptions)

The man has retrograde orgasms (sperm deposition in the bladder). TRUE AND FALSE.
-- It will be more difficult to conceive, but it not impossible. (Gustofson)

You were exposed to harmful chemicals. TRUE.
-- Some chemicals can hurt sperm or eggs or cause birth defects. (McGinnis)

You go under an anesthetic at the dentist's office. FALSE.
-- (Conceptions)

You've had radiation treatment. TRUE.
-- Cells exposed to significant levels of radiation may take up to two years to resume normal sperm production or, in severe cases, may never recover. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

You're exposed to some kinds of plastics and rubber or pesticides. 
DEPENDS on whom you ask.
-- McGinnis says some plastics contain materials can disrupt hormones. (McGinnis)
Gustofson says large amounts of pesticide ingestion may cause infertility, but minimal exposure will not cause harm. He says plastics and rubber do not cause infertility.

You use petroleum-based lubricants, including spermicides, oils or Vaseline. TRUE.
-- Astroglide, Replens, mineral oil or all-natural lubricants may not be as harmful to sperm. (American Society of Reproductive Medicine)

Read more: Misconceptions about conception


TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:

Eat, Love, Get Pregnant: A Couple's Guide To Boosting Fertility and Having A Healthy Baby
by Karen Daniels

-- A breakthrough revolutionary plan for getting pregnant fast, solving common fertility problems and having a healthy baby – this is NOT your average book on getting pregnant!

Renowned fertility expert Dr. Niels Lauersen and women's wellness expert Colette Bouchez help readers take charge of their fertility with a revolutionary new self-help plan designed to show couples how to work together to boost their conception odds, plan for a healthy pregnancy, and get pregnant faster – all without the use of expensive fertility treatments or medications.

Based on scientific research and tested on thousands of couples Eat-Love- GET PREGNANT is a simple yet revolutionary plan that provides the quintessential missing link absent from most other fertility programs – namely, the importance of not only boosting both male and female fertility simultaneously but bold new evidence showing how, when couples work together in certain special and unique ways, they can create a unified fertility power boost strong enough to take them from infertile to fertile in as little as three months

πŸ“š Paperback: 116 pages
Click to order/for more info: Eat, Love, Get Pregnant

πŸ“š Start reading Eat, Love, Get Pregnant on your Kindle in under a minute!

πŸ“š Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

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