by Corey Whelan
Over 7,000,000 American women will face some kind of difficulty getting pregnant when they are ready to have a baby. While much infertility cannot be avoided, there are some simple steps that you can take today that may help you avoid being part of that statistic.
- First off, know the truth about your biological clock. Most women believe that they will easily conceive into their late thirties and possibly even their early forties. Despite what you may have heard, this is simply inaccurate information. Fertility will begin to decline for most women at around age 27, and will take a dramatic dip at around age 34. If you are over age 30, consider seeing a reproductive endocrinologist for either an FSH test or an AMH test. Both of these simple blood tests give tangible, concrete information about your existing egg supply (ovarian reserve).
- Your egg supply is only one piece of the reproductive pie. A very common form of infertility, tubal factor infertility, can often be avoided if you use condoms when you are not trying to conceive. Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease which, if left untreated, can result in tubal factor infertility and the need to conceive utilizing In Vitro Fertilization.
- Avoid environmental toxins that can affect your body, reproductive potential, and your future baby's health as well. Toxins to avoid include phthalates, bisphenol A, and benzene. Choose plastics with the recyclling code 1,2 or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 include toxins which may leak into your food, particularly when the containers are heated. Never warm up food in your microwave in any type of plastic; opt to use glass instead. And keep this tip in mind if you order hot food from take out restaurants, especially soups which may be delivered in plastic containers.
- Limit your intake of any fish known to be high in mercury. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. Low mercury canned fishes are becoming more available for consumer purchase particularly on line, consider a low mercury tuna or salmon if you are either considering pregnancy or trying to conceive currently. Low mercury fish is a better option for small children as well.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or do recreational drugs at all. Ever. And drink both alcohol and caffeinated beverages in moderation if at all.
- Maintain a healthy body weight and keep your body strong through exercise and movement.
- Truly let go of all the little life stressors that don't matter much anyway. Remember the boss who used to terrorize you but you don't even work there anymore? Was all of that stress worth it? So laugh more. Worry less. Kiss passionately every day! Connect with more friends in person and less on line. Learn to love yoga, hang out with your dog, get into cross word puzzles. Whatever makes sense for you, makes sense for your body and your fertility potential. Really.
- Open a dialogue with a doctor you can trust, even if you are not currently trying to get pregnant. If your physician seems to be uncomfortable speaking to you about your fertility potential, particularly if you are a single woman or over the age of 30, consider making a change to a specialist who will understand your concerns and take them seriously.
Little steps really do add up. Simply put, it makes sense to take care of you. If you already know that you have endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, make sure that your lifestyle and dietary choices are appropriate to these conditions and stay in touch with your doctor about them. If primary ovarian insufficiency runs in your family, have a frank conversation with your physician about egg freezing. There really are changes you can make now, that may have a lasting impact not only on your fertility but on your over all health and quality of life. And there's no down side to that.