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8 Best Ways to Protect Your Fertility

 

Hi Marley,

Many couples face the same problem when it comes to choosing between career and having children. I was 33 when I had my first baby so I truly understand your desire to protect your future fertility and start a family when you and your husband are ready.

Before anything else, I would advise you not to wait too long to have a baby as your fertility declines very quickly with age – the average woman's fertility drops by about half  when she reaches 35 years old, and continues to take a steep dive after that.

While you cannot stop the natural aging process (the number and quality of your eggs), you can adopt some healthy lifestyle practices that may significantly help preserve your fertility.

 

What Can You Do to Prolong Your Fertility

1. Watch What You Eat

One of the best way to preserve your fertility is to eat a well-balanced diet. Women who consume unhealthy high fat foods had a harder time getting pregnant than women who followed a healthy diet, according to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Therefore, make sure to include plenty of wholesome foods, along with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables in your everyday meals. It is also a good idea to add healthy fats (or good fats) – avocado, olive oil, almonds and walnuts – to your diet because the Vitamin A and E in healthy fats may protect a woman’s eggs from infertility as well as other ovarian problems.

 

 

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are carrying around some extra pounds, I highly encourage you to lose weight to protect your fertility and keep your reproductive system in tip top condition. I am not talking about getting a celebrity-thin body, but rather losing and maintaining a healthy weight for your height and build. Use a BMI calculator or checker (Body Mass Index) to help you determine your BMI and healthy weight range.

Being overweight or obese causes your body's fat cells to produce more estrogen, a sex hormone which has an important role in fertility. Increased production of estrogen can lead to a hormonal imbalance that can affect ovulation, menstruation and reduce your chances of conception.

Moreover, women who are overweight also tend to be more insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can force your body to produce excess levels of insulin, which can stop ovulation.

 

 

3. Avoid Exercise Obsession

While exercising on a regular basis is good for you and benefits every part of your body, it is important that you avoid excessive exercise. Exercise 3-5 times a week, for about 30 minutes each session will help you get pregnant but too much exercise or too vigorous exercise can actually affect your future fertility. Women who exercise excessively may face irregular menstrual cycles, or in more serious cases, amenorrhea (loss of menstruation).

 

 

4. Quit Smoking

Many studies have shown that smoking has major adverse effects on fertility in both men and women. Cigarette smoking damages a woman's reproductive system, most notably the ovaries. The degree of damage depends on how long she has been smoking and how many cigarettes she smokes in a day.

On top of that, smoking can cause a woman's eggs to be more susceptible to genetic abnormalities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

 

 

5. Take Care of Your Health Down There

STD (sexually transmitted disease) can have a negative impact on your reproductive system. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease, a major cause of infertility) can scar your uterus and fallopian tubes while other STDs like chlamydia can affect your monthly cycle and may result in infertility if left untreated.

In addition, conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) can lower your chances of having a child.

To ensure a healthy female reproductive system, you should have a Pap smear done annually. Pap smear (sometimes called a Pap test, cervical smear, smear test or cervical cytology) is the best tool to detect all types of infections, including HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea and herpes.

 

 

6. Go on the Pill

Oral contraceptive pills may not reduce fertility as previously thought. In fact recent research suggests that oral contraceptives have several positive reproductive health effects. The Pill has been shown to reduce a woman’s risk for various diseases, ranging from ovarian cancer, cysts, endometriosis to pelvic inflammatory disease.

 

 

7. Keep Sperm Healthy

Keeping your reproductive system healthy is only part of the equation. If you want to prolong your fertility, make sure to protect your man's sperm as well.

How to keep sperm healthy? Quit smoking, stay away from drugs, avoid heavy drinking, maintain a healthy weight and manage stress well. Common sense, but worth repeating.

Also, keep heat away from his penis and scrotum as heat can lower a man’s sperm count. Hot laptops on his lap and long hot baths are no good for male fertility. Your man should wear loose-fitting boxer shorts instead of tight-fitting briefs because tighter underwear reduce blood flow to his genitalia and hence, can kill sperm.

 

 

8. Preserve Your Eggs

If you are planning on a pregnancy later in life, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor regarding the many fertility options available to preserve your eggs. Ask about freezing eggs or treatments like medication or artificial insemination, to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

 

 

 

 

By Diane Hanson

 

I would really appreciate your advice on how to protect fertility in women and what can I do to keep female reproduction system healthy. I am a happily married woman in my late twenties. My husband and I feel that we are not ready to have kids yet as we both have very busy jobs and we also want to be more financially secure before a baby arrives. I'm thinking about getting pregnant in the next few years so I need to know what I should do now to prolong fertility and improve my chances of conceiving later. Thank you. – Marley, West Virginia.

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