Written by Angela Ysseldyk CNP, BA
Our lives are divided into different stages, each with its unique beautiful moments and even challenges. We’re taking a deeper dive into the hormonal stages of a woman's life. Join us in this two-part series as we discuss everything from fertility to post menopause.
Welcome to Fertility, the reproductive years life stage!
This stage usually occurs from the 20s and could go as far as early 40s. Female fertility is a woman's ability to conceive a biological child.
As peak fertility years begin in the 20’s, it’s in this stage that women should be paying attention to the rhythm of their cycles and any hormonal symptoms that may arise. Fertility rates drop from 25% each month in the 20's to less than 5% by the age of 40.1
- 91% of women can get pregnant at age 30
- 77% by age 35
- 53% by age 40
The most important event in a woman’s rhythm and cycle is ovulation. If you are trying to get pregnant, it is important your hormones work in harmony to create a healthy cycle where ovulation can take place. Period problems are a barometer of overall hormonal health.
During your menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs (usually day 10-14), and this is when you can become pregnant. During ovulation, your body is primed to become pregnant: an egg is released from an ovary, and the uterus is full of nutrients and hormones levels are at their highest. The six days leading up to and including ovulation make up what is called the “fertile window.” This is the period when sexual intercourse may lead to pregnancy. If the egg becomes fertilized by the sperm, typically this is the beginning of pregnancy 3. Pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks, or just over 9 months, as measured from the last menstrual period to delivery.
Estrogen and Progesterone are two hormones that play a primary role in the health and rhythm of your cycle. If you experience too much estrogen fluctuation, this can result in hormone havoc. The best way to support healthy estrogen balance is to look after your liver. Foods that support healthy liver function include pomegranate, turmeric (curcumin), cruciferous vegetables, green tea, artichoke hearts4.
Other nutrients to consider during fertility: folic acid, iron, DHA & EPA, multivitamin with minerals (consider a prenatal), B vitamins, and protein.
Cyclesmart with chastetree berry and zinc is a great solution for those looking for support in stabilizing their cycles.
Did You Know?
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and hormone that is produced in the hypothalamus and released during sex, childbirth, and lactation to aid reproductive functions. Get an oxytocin boost by making time for friends! Also known as the “bonding hormone,” oxytocin gets a boost when women get together with a friend or two.5
Is it possible to get pregnant after the age of 35?
Yes, it is possible! Our fertility is greatly impacted by our lifestyle choices and what we consume on a regular basis. Leading a healthy lifestyle by moving your body every day, incorporating stress resilience techniques (like meditation) and consuming a healthy diet full of antioxidant-rich foods can all contribute to a healthy cycle and fertility.6
Despite our best efforts, roughly 16% (or 1 in 6) couples in Canada experience infertility. This number has doubled since the 1980s. 2There are many causes of infertility ranging from age, to hormonal imbalances to problems with the uterus and more3.There are a few things you can do to make it more likely you'll conceive on your own and have a healthy pregnancy including but not limited to: nutrition, and lifestyle choices.7
Welcome to Postpartum, and congratulations on your newborn baby and all the wonderful things this special time brings!
The postpartum period is commonly defined as the six weeks after childbirth. This is a very important time for both you and your newborn baby as you adjust to each other and your expanded family. In the first few hours and days after childbirth, you will experience many changes, both physically and emotionally.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces progesterone at levels that are many times higher than a woman’s body normally produces. Upon the birth of the baby, the placenta is expelled resulting in an immediate drop in a woman’s progesterone level. This can be both a joy filled time as well as stressful as sleep patterns also change.8
The postpartum period can be divided into three distinct stages; the initial or acute phase, 6–12 hours after childbirth; subacute postpartum period, which lasts two to six weeks, and the delayed postpartum period, which can last up to six months.9 In the subacute postpartum period, 87% to 94% of women report at least one health problem. 10,11
In the early postpartum period, mother and infant navigate a critical transition from pregnancy to lactation. Two major clinical problems that occur during this transition are failed lactation and perinatal mood disorders. These disorders often overlap in clinical settings. Failed lactation is common.12
So many hormone shifts occur in the minutes, hours, days, and months after being pregnant. The decline in hormones and unpredictable sleep patterns of the newborn contribute to and/or exacerbate poor sleep and daytime sleepiness during the early postpartum period.13
During this time, it is important to ensure excellent nutrition for the mother, and to continue taking her prenatal vitamins. Requirements of many micronutrients increase for a mother that is breastfeeding compared to pregnancy, except for vitamins D and K, calcium, fluoride, and phosphorus.14
smartPrenatal is a great solution for mothers looking to ensure they are getting a broad spectrum of nutrients to support themselves.
Other nutrients to consider during postpartum: minerals, iron, DHA & EPA, multivitamin with minerals (consider a prenatal), B vitamins, and protein.
Did You Know?
Oxytocin and Prolactin levels (from the pituitary gland) increase at this time. These are feel good and bonding hormones.8 Oxytocin is a hormone released that causes contraction of the uterus during labor (and after so the uterus shrinks back to its original size) and stimulates milk to move into the breast ducts. Oxytocin is a feel good hormone or the “love” hormone. It plays a huge role in mother-infant bonding. After that first week or so, oxytocin levels rise and should lift a new mom’s mood, making her feel better.15
How quickly will I lose the baby weight?
Although this is a common goal for many new mothers, everybody is unique and will vary from person to person. Listening to your body and not rushing the process will be more beneficial for long-term health. According to the Office on Women’s Health, women lose an average of 10lb immediately after giving birth. Gradual weight loss will usually continue over several months. Combining a healthful diet with regular physical activity can promote healthy weight loss.
In general, women should wait until their postpartum checkup, which occurs within 12 weeks of giving birth, to begin trying to lose weight.16
There are things you can do both with nutrition and key nutrients, as well as lifestyle choices to help support you during this special time.
1. George, K., & Kamath, M. S. (2010). Fertility and age. Journal of human reproductive sciences, 3(3), 121–123. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-1208.7415
2. Vander Borght M, Wyns C. Fertility and infertility: Definition and epidemiology. Clin Biochem. 2018;62:2-10. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2018.03.012
3. Wilcox, A. J., Dunson, D., & Baird, D. D. (2000). The timing of the "fertile window" in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 321(7271), 1259–1262. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7271.1259
4.The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Estrogen, Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. Date Published: August 29, 2014.
5.Jones, C., Barrera, I., Brothers, S., Ring, R., & Wahlestedt, C. (2017). Oxytocin and social functioning. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(2), 193–201.
6.F. Homan, M. Davies, R. Norman, The impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive performance in the general population and those undergoing infertility treatment: a review, Human Reproduction Update, Volume 13, Issue 3, May/June 2007, Pages 209–223, https://doi.org/10.1093/humupd/dml056
7.Government of Canada. Accessed 08-28-2020 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/fertility/fertility.html
- Victoria Hendrick, Lori L. Altshuler, Rita Suri, Hormonal Changes in the Postpartum and Implications for Postpartum Depression, Psychosomatics, Volume 39, Issue 2, March–April 1998, Pages 93-101
- Romano M, Cacciatore A, Giordano R, La Rosa B (April 2010). "Postpartum period: three distinct but continuous phases". Journal of Prenatal Medicine. 4(2): 22–5. PMC 3279173. PMID 22439056.
- Glazener CM, Abdalla M, Stroud P, Naji S, Templeton A, Russell IT (April 1995). "Postnatal maternal morbidity: extent, causes, prevention and treatment". British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 102 (4): 282–7. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.1995.tb09132.x. PMID 7612509.
- Thompson JF, Roberts CL, Currie M, Ellwood DA (June 2002). "Prevalence and persistence of health problems after childbirth: associations with parity and method of birth". Birth (Berkeley, Calif.). 29 (2): 83–94. doi:10.1046/j.1523-536X.2002.00167.x. PMID 12051189.
- Stuebe, A. M., Grewen, K., Pedersen, C. A., Propper, C., & Meltzer-Brody, S. (2012). Failed Lactation and Perinatal Depression: Common Problems with Shared Neuroendocrine Mechanisms? Journal of Women’s Health, 21(3), 264–272. http://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2011.3083
- Nowakowski, S., Meers, J., & Heimbach, E. (2013). Sleep and Women’s Health. Sleep Medicine Research, 4(1), 1–22.
- Kominiarek, M. A., & Rajan, P. (2016). Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation. The Medical clinics of North America, 100(6), 1199–1215. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2016.06.004
- Live Science. Accesses 08-28-2020. https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html
- US Department of Health and Human Services. Recovering from Birth, Accessed: Sept 15th 2020 At: https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-and-beyond/recovering-birth