Important Things to Know About Your Fertility

Important Things to Know About Your Fertility

Having a baby is a huge decision- so many of us spend a large part of our adult lives actively trying to not get pregnant. So once the decision is made and you want to have a baby, it can be really frustrating when things take longer than you expect. Statistics show that in healthy couples under 35 years old it can still take up to a year to get pregnant, so it might not be time to get concerned yet. But wherever you are in your journey to conceiving, these are some things worth knowing. 

Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Fertility

The way you live your life, including your habits and routines, can all positively or negatively impact your fertility. From stress levels to diet, smoking, drinking, drug use and more can all play a part. We all know the importance of eating the right things because good nutrition impacts every cell in your body, it makes sure that your weight stays stable and keeps your hormone levels working correctly. A diet rich in essential nutrients like folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants all supports reproductive health. Specific foods like those that are high in trans fats can hinder fertility, and even if it’s not the only cause of fertility issues, it can make up part of a bigger picture. As if you’re eating a lot of junk food, this can also be a sign that you’re not looking after yourself as well as you can in other areas. Like getting enough exercise, enough sleep and keeping your stress down. If you’re thinking about conceiving a baby, changing your diet and taking in as many nutrient rich foods as you can while cutting out toxins is one of the simplest and effective ways to set you up for success. 

Medical Conditions That Can Affect Your Cycle

It might be obvious to you that you have a medical condition that’s likely to affect your fertility. You might have bloating and excessive pain during menstruation, you might have periods that are too heavy or too light or skip them all together for months at a time. But you might also have an underlying condition that has mild or silent symptoms, meaning that when you try for a baby and struggle to conceive, it comes as a shock. PCOS, endometriosis, previous infections (including STDS) which can cause reproductive scarring and thyroid disorders are all conditions that will prevent you from conceiving or make it more difficult. In some cases, an egg isnt being released from your ovaries, or not released regularly. With thyroid disease like hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland is no longer able to signal to your body to release the correct hormones needed for ovulation. With scarring in the fallopian tubes, the sperm and egg is unable to meet and travel back to the uterus. There are lots of potential reasons as to why you’re not conceiving so have your doctor run some tests if you’re struggling. 

Knowing When in Your Cycle You Can Conceive

Understanding how your cycle works and when you can actually get pregnant can be really helpful. Sex education in school might have had us all believing that sex= a baby but that’s simply not the case. You only have around five fertile days in your cycle, around the mid point of your menstrual cycle. This is when an egg is released from the ovary- the egg can only survive for around 24 hours unless it’s fertilised but sperm can live in the reproductive tract for a number of days. This means if it’s there waiting to meet the egg when it’s released, you have a good chance of a baby being conceived. It’s important to remember that even if sperm and egg do meet, it won’t always result in a live pregnancy. Sometimes there are issues with the embryo like it not having the right chromosomes or a hormonal problem with you that prevents implantation. The stats suggest that most couples have around a 30% chance of conceiving each month, taking all these things into account. 

Understanding Age Related Fertility Decline in Women

There’s a lot of scaremongering in the media when it comes to women’s fertility and age. Newspapers love to plaster terrifying slogans that suggest that once a woman turns 35 that she’s ‘missed the boat’ in terms of having a family, and other unhelpful, misused statistics. The truth is that yes, women’s reproductive health does decline with age, but this is very individual. While a few women will be able to conceive a healthy baby in their late forties and beyond, others might have already entered the menopause by then. We know that generally, fertility starts to decrease after thirty five, and then sharply after forty but you never know what camp you might fall into. If you’re getting into your late twenties and know that you want children but aren’t ready yet, freezing your eggs is a good backup plan. The older we get, the more damage our eggs have and the chances of chromosomal problems increase. But if you have a baby in your late thirties or beyond using eggs from when you were in your twenties, you largely avoid this issue. If you’ve already reached the stage where you’re trying for a baby without luck and know that age isnt on your side, IVF can be a good choice. While there’s no guarantees, it massively increases your odds and some clinics will have IVF pricing options that allow you to do a set number of cycles for a fixed price. 

Male Factor Issues to Consider

When it comes to fertility issues, we as women tend to have the blame put on us when things don’t go to plan. But actually, 40-50% of the time, it’s an issue with the male partner. Having a semen analysis done of your partner early on in your infertility journey is worth doing as it’s quick and non-invasive and can give you a simple yes/ no answer. Sometimes sperm don’t have the right morphology (head and tail shape and size preventing them from swimming properly), or the actual number of sperm can be low in comparison to a healthy sample. In these cases, ‘ICSI’ which is a type of IVF can be used. The clinician checks the sample under the microscope and selects the healthiest looking sperm. A single sperm is then injected into the egg to give it the best chance of success. This is different to regular IVF, where a number of sperm are placed near the egg and allowed to fertilise this way. If the sample isn’t the best, there are a number of lifestyle changes men can make which will improve things. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.