I still remember the first time I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). On one level I was relieved to have a ‘reason’ for my irregular periods. But then came the real shock.
‘It’s going to be really difficult for you to fall pregnant naturally’.
I was 31 and newly married. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear.
But life has a funny way of working out for the best. Even when things seem to be going seriously off the rails.
That marriage didn’t work out. For a while I got used to the idea of never having a family of my own. And I was cool with that.
And then I met a certain Irishman.
After a while things were getting serious so I felt I had to share my big fertility ‘problem’. I knew he really wanted to have a family so I was pretty much expecting that to be the end of that.
But (fortunately) he wasn’t put off. In fact he didn’t seem to think it would be a problem.
Now that we have one beautiful boy and another babe due very soon, I’m so grateful that this is where we ended up.
I’ve really wanted to share my story because I know how frustrating fertility problems can be. And I also know how unhelpful modern medicine can be.
If this can help just one other couple, it will be worth writing.
Of course, if you’re already sorted in the fertility department, just skip down to this week’s recipe. It’s delicious whether you have a family or not!
How I got pregnant naturally at age 40 and age 43
1. Stopped taking the pill.
You’ve probably heard of someone who stopped taking the pill and was pregnant the next month. It happens.
But if you’re likely to have fertility issues, the longer you’re on the pill the longer it’s going to take your body to get back to some sort of natural cycle. If I had my time again I would have switched to an alternative form of contraception much earlier in the process.
2. Changed my diet to mostly paleo / low carb.
I wasn’t sure of the mechanism but I knew there was a link between insulin and the fertility hormones. Going low carb made a HUGE difference. It enabled me to go from having one period in 6 months to having a relatively regular cycle. If you’re only going to follow one tip from this post this would be the one!
3. Took a pre-conception multivitamin.
Your doctor is going to recommend folate and iodine. I figured I may as well cover the rest of my bases as well even though I prefer to get my nutrients through whole food meals rather than supplements.
4. Experimented with fertility prediction sticks.
My gynecologist recommended these. Basically there’s an increase in certain hormones just before ovulation. Peeing on these sticks tests for the hormone and when it’s detected you should be ovulating within 24-48 hours. Of course if you have PCOS this hormone tends to be elevated for longer so the test isn’t as accurate as it is for women with regular cycles.
I found them more trouble than help and didn’t bother when we were trying the second time. If you do decide to use them buy in bulk online instead of paying a fortune at the chemist.
5. Measured my temperature every morning.
Another waste of time I didn’t bother with second time round.
6. Learned to really understand my fertile signs.
This was a game changer! Basically it’s about tracking the consistency of your vaginal ‘mucus’ through out your cycle. I took a course called Debunking PCOS (not an affiliate link) with Melbourne based doctor that really helped me get my head around this concept.
Along with going low carb this was huge! If you have an irregular cycle, understanding your body’s mucus sounds gross but is really the key.
I also used the Clue App (not an affiliate link) to track my cycle… Brilliant for spotting trends and just feeling on top of it.
7. Stopped running and started walking instead.
I used to run 50-60km a week. I stopped at the beginning of August on the advice of a fertility doctor and we fell pregnant in September with Fergal. Too much exercise can be just as problematic as not enough. A doctor friend suggested that running causes problems because it gets the body to over heat.
8. Took a holiday.
After trying to get pregnant for over 18 months with one miscarriage, things were getting a little stressful. Thankfully we had planned a trip to Europe for my 40th birthday. We decided not to think about fertility stuff while we were away and wouldn’t you know it… we came home pregnant with Fergal.
9. Focused on keeping stress levels to a minimum.
Second time around we had another European holiday booked as backup but I decided to focus on removing as much stress from my regular life as possible. Minimal work commitments. No goals. Turns out we conceived before the trip!
10. Took up meditation.
This was part of my stress reduction program for our second. I started daily meditation in April and we were pregnant in June. I have no idea whether it helped with the fertility but I definitely noticed meditation helped me be much more patient when dealing with a two year old!
11. Kept believing it would happen.
This can be the most challenging part. Especially as the months (and years) ticked on. But I kept reminding myself of all the people I knew who struggled to get (or stay) pregnant and who now have the families they were hoping for. If you want something bad enough you’ll eventually find a way to get there!
Lime & Tahini Kale Salad
Inspired by the lovely Ella Woodward from her first book ‘Deliciously Ella’ which is filled with plant based recipes. When I first made this I was completely obsessed I think I had it three times in one week. I adore how the lime and tahini come together to make a super flavoursome dressing.
takes: 10 minutes
enough for: 1-2
1 large bunch kale
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Remove tough stems from the kale and slice or tear into bite sized strips. Place kale in a large bowl.
2. Squeeze over lime juice and drizzle with tahini and soy sauce. Toss salad with your hands massaging the kale as you go.
no tahini – use almond or cashew butter instead. Or replace tahini with extra virgin olive oil for a less creamy salad. You could sprinkle in some toasted sesame seeds for flavour.
carb lovers / more substantial – toss in torn flat bread or tortillas OR some cooked quinoa or rice and an extra squeeze of lime to make sure the salad doesn’t dry out.
carnivore – toss in some sliced cooked steak or chicken – I love this steak version!
no lime – use lemon instead.
soy-free – replace soy sauce with coconut aminios or use salt to season instead.
This blog is likely to get inspired by… The necessary food items you provide to get pregnant as well as the steps you share will definitely work well with those women suffering from infertility… food delivery in Mumbai
Big hugs from Food Mumbai Blog
Thanks for the great recipes. I had to come back and share my success, because I was on this site looking for hope too. My husband and I were not able to get pregnant because I was not ovulating regularly and had PCOS. I took Clomid, and it worked on the first round ? ! I am 6 weeks pregnant. It is very early, but it did work! Hang in there! My insurance does not cover any fertility related expenses. I’ve got them online. My aunt said just search in Google for this keyword “CLD24PRG” ? to find the reliable source. Good luck!
Thanks for sharing and congratulations Margie!
I am almost 39 and have PCOS, no children but have not given up. Your post gave me strength. Thank you!
Don’t give up Alice!
If you have PCOS staying low carb is key.
It will happen. :)
Please also encourage your readers to get a full work up! I wasted a lot of time reading books and changing my diet only to learn that our problem was on his side. All the diet changes and vitamins in the world wouldn’t have helped. Ivf process has been going well so far. Please remember though, this isn’t something that can always be fixed naturally, nor is it always the woman’s problem.
Thank you for your comment. I did try to get pregnant by changing my diet (after having my daughter thanks to artifical insemination on the 4th try). I went low carb, higher fat, exercised more. I lost 10 kilos in 9 months! And kept my weight stable ever since. But no luck on the baby front unfortunately… 1 more miscarriage, and 6 tries at insemination with no pregnancy at all.
Sorry to hear about your unsuccessful attempts Kanadelf.
Really appreciate you sharing your story…
Good point thanks J!
Yes we tend to assume fertility problems are on the female side but it really is a 50:50 thing. And yes there are always some problems that require IVF so good to explore both options.
Hello J I am 42 Yr old male who is inspired by, but want to know if its me or both but for me as a male do follow your steps for as for me or is their something differ that I should do while exciting the alternative.
Best to talk to your doctor Anthony
So much good stuff here! I got pregnant at 35 and 41, and had my children at 35.75 and 42.
With my first, I went through all the work-ups, and was about to start fertility treatments when I got pregnant (I’d had an HSG which improves fertility for a month or two). Note: I only have one ovary. In the 1.5 years that it took to get pregnant, I’d had at least one miscarriage. I also started taking my temp 9 months into it. This WAS really key for me, because it told me that I was timing it all wrong – turns out I needed to wait a few days. Also, my luteal phase was apparently super short (10 days).
I was 39.5 when we started trying for #2, (it took 3.5 years for me to get talked into it) and no go. I didn’t expect it to happen easily, when it was 18 months with #1. After another couple of miscarriages, we gave up (20 months in). We gave away the crib over Labor Day weekend in early September (the only thing that we had kept from the first kid, as it was many years later).
I then started trying to lose a few pounds that I’d gained while trying to get pregnant. See, I was mostly vegetarian with #1, then I went for a year or so of distance running. I took the Mark’s Daily Apple “Primal Challenge” in September of 2011 (21 day challenge). I didn’t lose any weight, but I *did* get pregnant in early October. Turns out that all that extra fat was good for me. Perhaps my earlier infertility was mostly diet.
The funny story is that my second child was unplanned, because we’d given up. Thing is, over the years of tracking, I knew when I ovulated AND I knew that I had problems with insomnia during that time. The insomnia would last three days. The first night of insomnia, I went to the gym at 3 am. My husband teased me about nudging him if I couldn’t sleep. So, night #2 I did, and the next morning I said “hmm…that wasn’t the greatest timing”. Or maybe it was!
That said, if your eggs are old (at over 40, they are), the chances of getting pregnant goes down. Still, something like almost 80% of women over 40 will have a successful live birth between 40 and 45.
Thanks for sharing your story Marcia!
It’s a great example that every couples fertility journey is different.
Lovely story Jules!
Thanks for sharing it.
You looked so beautiful at nearly full-term pregnancy in the photo you posted recently, and this is such an inspiring story for other women with fertility problems. Looking forward to your baby news!
I am on my fourth baby after the age of 37. I also got pregnant at 41 and now, am expecting at 43. I think there is a lot of fear mongering out there about how difficult it is to achieve pregnancy past 35. My own MD told me “not to get lazy” that a pregnancy (at 42) “won’t develop into a baby” and that it would just “get ugly” (the miscarriage). So when I got pregnant, against her wishes, I didn’t tell her. Easiest pregnancy yet.
I did everything you mentioned and also bought a great book “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” by Twenge, Jean.
As a male with fertility problems I can (somewhat) relate with women or couples in a similar bind. Having said that…I think it is a funny coincidence that both times Europe was involved in you becoming pregnant.
Of course, I have to follow up with the bad joke:
Maybe I haven’t found my “mating grounds” just yet.
Anyway, I do hope that your tips prove helpful not only for women, but also for men.
First off, congratulations on your new baby boy!
As far as the things that helped you get pregnant, you stopped taking the pill. You also went Paleo. What makes you think going Paleo and not getting off the pill resulting in the change in your cycle pattern?
The pill has a tremendous effect on how the things function. So is taking it out of the equation.
This salad is SO good. The dressing tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. I halved the tahini as I wasn’t sure if I’d like having quite that much, and to make it more substantial I threw in a handful of lentils. It was creamy and tart and not dry at all. So good! Think I just found my new favourite super-fast make-ahead work lunch.
So glad you liked it Romi! xx
I like your blog! Thank you for all this useful info! I also have pcos and I know how it feels. I’ve been in treatment for years. Unfortunately it brought zero result. I’m currently pregnant with twins from donor egg. We had this procedure in Ukrainian clinic biotexcom. I should say now I have no feeling my babies are not mine genetically. To be honest I had some doubts. I didn’t know how I feel about the procedure… I thought maybe I should wait and try something else and it will help me to get pregnant. But we’d found out that the likelihood of having our own children was practically zero. So ivf with donor egg was our last and only one option. I have a very ‘modern’ family with step parents/brothers/sisters, half siblings and step nieces and nephews etc. Genetics really means nothing to me. People who raise and love you are your true family. In the beginning my dh wasn’t fully on board. We had some very serious arguments about the procedure. But when he found out I was pregnant everything in him changed! The babies I’m carrying are our children and will always be ours. It’s such a hard decision to make, I know. Only you will ever know if it’s right for you or not as it’s not right for some people. I look at it like at usual treatment of infertility. Doctors just help you a little bit. And then you carry/ give birth/ raise – do what usual parents do. We still haven’t decided whether or not we’ll ever tell the babies about the donor. But we’re definitely not telling anyone else how we came to be pregnant. It’s only our bussiness. I don’t see something super special in it so everyone should know. These babies are mine. I really feel it and I don’t make myself to do so. Girls I wish you all the best and good luck xx
Thanks for sharing your story Iana!
With the help of a man called Dr.Addo I was able to get pregnant though his root and herbs. I’m 47years of age, it was really difficult for me to pregnant though my husband loves me but it was really hurting me not having my own child but after many years I came across Dr.Addo. I’m 7months pregnant now through the help of the wounderful man and I will advice everyone looking for help to get pregnant to contact this gretae man via his email at: ( addosolution@gmail. com ) and be happy like me.
Vivian from CANADA
Thanks for sharing, and I hope all went well with your pregnancy. I’m thinking of using Dr. Addo’s herbs, I have contacted him through the email you provided but abit skeptical about the payment… Just need a word of how it went for you.
Thank you so much for sharing this post. Especially when you know exactly what I’m going through right now. It’s encouraging to read success stories and makes me feel that I can do it too.
Hang in there Romy!
I know it’s frustrating but you will get there. I know it.
My gf i met when 41, she had pcos, no kids before, and struggled with weight since she was a kid. She had had scan and there were no cysts. Since reading more about the “syndrom”, which is what medical establishment name it when they dont really know what it is, i’ve found the name is really misleading, it’s nothing to do with ovaries, nor is there polyps in many cases, or they come and go.
So she said she always wanted kids but didn’t ever thibk it would happen. We spoke about and i said i want kids too. She ended up going on the cambridge diet and has lost tons of weight and seems to now be having regular periods.
Some people are very vocal about things like this but i think she is scared to talk too much about it, which kind of worries me, but i try and respect that. I thought if someone was trying to have kids, but had infertility, they would be on it’s case and trying anything and everything but she seems laid back about it.
I do see her looking at other kids and can tell she feels left out, but is quiet about it.
We have been intimate a lot and i think only now her system is getting back into a proper menstrual cycle after years of beibg seriously overweight and system being all over the place.
Good article. Some other thoughts…
When you can’t get pregnant, and things look good from the outside, it can be extremely frustrating. The first thing to consider is how long have you been trying. About 80% of couples will get pregnant after six months of trying, and about 90% will be pregnant after 12 months of trying to get pregnant
It took me almost 2 years for my first and over 12 months for my second so I guess we were in the not-so-lucky 10% :)
I never thought this product would work. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for at least 3 year and everything I tried let me down… but for some reason I had a gut feeling to try https://goo.gl/PyDhkd and few weeks after i used the herbs sent to me, I missed my period, took 6 pregnancy tests and my dreams came true. I can’t thank you enough Dr Cantara for this miracle you have brought to my life. I also love the fact that it’s all natural and completely safe. I definitely recommended this to anyone trying to have a baby.
Calgary, AB, Canada
Thanks for sharing your story :)
Thank you. I just need some hope right now. I am 43 and so scared but remaining hopeful. All I can do is try!!!
Keep trying Amy!
You’ll get there. It just takes longer at this age but it’s still possible. :)
Thank you for posting this- I googled- “got pregnant naturally at 43 and I have pcos” and your story came up. Sometimes you need reassurance from the universe that it is not physically impossible. Thank you again. I needed to hear this today!
Hang in there Fiona!
It can and will happen. I found keeping low carb really helped give me a more regular cycle which dramatically improves your chances!
My youngest is now 4 and so worth all the drama we went through to get him.
I love this blog. I am so worried and my soul feels crushed after talking to my doctor today. I am 43 and he is very dismal. I guess I thought if I could be super healthy that I could still get pregnant but hasn’t happened for me yet. Been trying 2 years. Why when I Google “pregnant at 43” does it say that the changes are basically zero? But then there are great stories like yours. Thank you in advance. Would love tour opinion on this…Look forward to chatting!
Do look at the statistics – it’s doesn’t matter what the changes are.
All you need to know is that it’s possible for huamans to get pregnant at 43. And you are a human.
The only way it won’t happen is if you stop trying.
AND that being said – there are so many stories of people who stop trying and fall pregnant naturally – FOr my first child we conceived in Paris when we were on holidays and when I had decided to have a break from trying after 18 months.
Also there’s a lot of research around caffeine being a problem for lots of people so that might be something to experiment with.
Hope that helps. I know how soul crushing it can be. Jx
I’m 43 and I thought I was content having two children (one of each). But I realized a few days ago that my IUD needs to be taken out and all of a sudden my ovaries and uterus are screaming to have a baby. Has anyone else had this happen to them? I also have diabetes (that we are having a hard time controlling) as well as PCOS. OH! Did I mention I’m péri menopausal?! Both my children were natural both in conception and birth. Although we did try fertility treatments for about a year with no success. Has anyone gone through this? Oh! My partner thinks I’m insane for wanting another baby. But we have agreed that if it happens, it happens and that is an acceptable compromise for both of if.
I can’t say it’s happened to me Sarah – 2 is definitely enough.
Wishing you well on your journey.
Everyone talks about low carbs. I have lean PCOS and my cycle has vastly improved, much more regular by cutting out sugar but still having some carbs (though not wheat)- down from 38 days to 28 days and in both cases I have confirmation I’m ovulating. An app (well regarded one) and nutritionalist recommended this approach. Having said this I’m still not pregnant after doing this for 6 months.
What’s your view on this?
If you feel like you’re ovulating then keep doing that Olivia and keep trying. You will get there :)