Three Things 20-something Can Do to Preserve Fertility
If you are in your 20s, chances are you’re not even thinking about your fertility. Studies show that one in five American women today now delay parenthood until their late 30s. Women delay having babies for many reasons, including higher education, careers, or because they have not found the right partner.
But if you are busy with career or education and are determined to avoid pregnancy for another decade, shouldn’t you at least be concerned about possible infertility in your late 30s? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) thinks so. In fact, the CDC suggests that women of all ages follow these four recommendations to preserve their fertility in the future:
- Achieve a healthy weight
- Practice good nutrition
- Avoid smoking and doing other drugs
- Manage chronic health conditions and infections
We know that this may sound like a lot to be concerned about. To help you be proactive in preserving your fertility, we have some easy, doable tips that you employ right now:
Tip 1: Live a healthy lifestyle
It is important to take care of your health now, even if you are not thinking of getting pregnant anytime soon. One way to protect your health and your fertility is to exercise and eat a variety of nutritious foods each day.
Women within a healthy weight range often find it easiest to conceive, while underweight and overweight women can have more difficulty getting pregnant.
Also, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned, it’s important to protect yourself and your unborn children by taking a daily multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid. Folic acid is essential before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.
In addition, don't forget to visit your doctor annually. Your gynecologist can screen you for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and teach you how to maintain your reproductive health.
Regular physicals with a primary care doctor can diagnose any current or developing problems like obesity, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These health conditions can develop when you are young, and cause problems for you later in life, including during pregnancy.
Tip 2: Practice safer sex
Women in their early 20s are one of the most sexually active groups. Sometimes, younger women encounter multiple sexual partners within a short time frame. You may be conscientious about taking your birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, but are you just as careful to use condoms with every sexual liaison?
Having sex with a number of partners increases your risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can negatively impact your chances of getting pregnant in the future. Sexually transmitted diseases, like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, are some of the most preventable causes of infertility from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which causes up to 100,000 cases of infertility each year.
So how can you protect yourself? You probably know that condoms often fail and cannot prevent all STDS. But, if you are sexually active, condoms are your best option to protect yourself from pregnancy and STDs.
Also, don't believe everything your partners tell you. Get tested for STDs regularly and encourage your partners to be tested for STDs as well. And don’t be afraid to ask to see their test results, which may help protect yourself from future fertility problems.
Tip 3: Avoid harmful substances
Along with STDs, smoking can harm your chances of getting pregnant later in life. Numerous studies have linked cigarette smoking with infertility. If your partner smokes, or you are regularly in a smoke-filled atmosphere, it might also affect your future fertility. Secondhand smoke is known to cause fertility problems.
Other chemicals can be dangerous, too. Women planning to conceive should avoid long-term exposure to hazardous chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Even household chemicals might be problematic. Animal studies have linked a common substance, phthalates, to genital birth defects in males. Another chemical, benzene, found in rubber, dyes, detergents, paint, and nail polish, may be linked to fertility problems in women. Go green in your household to reduce your exposure to these substances.
Fertility decreases with age
While many women are able to conceive in their late 30s and early 40s, a woman's fertility starts to decline before age 30. Miscarriage rates start to climb at this time, along with the chance of having a child born with a birth defect. The American Fertility Association advises women to think twice about postponing pregnancy until after age 35. If you do postpone pregnancy, you may experience hurdles in conceiving.
To avoid expensive and stressful fertility treatments in the future, you can start by taking care of your fertility health at an early age. You may thank yourself later!
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