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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
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
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
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
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.