You might not want to have a baby right now but perhaps you want one in the future. If you dream of being a mother one day, it’s important to know as much about your fertility as possible. Here are a few facts to make you more informed.
Pay attention to the ovaries. First things first: you don’t develop more eggs throughout your life—what you’ve got is what you’ve got! So, how many eggs do women get at birth? Two million! However, you slowly lose your eggs throughout your life. Every time you have a period, you lose an egg. You also lose many follicles, which are sacs found inside the ovaries that contain immature eggs. These are the ones that don’t make it and die. You can lose hundreds of follicles every month and your lifestyle could accelerate this process.
The pill won’t affect your fertility. Even though birth control does prevent ovulation, it doesn’t mean you’re killing your precious eggs—you’re just not using them right now. Same goes for the IUD. Your eggs will still be there when you go off birth control and will be just as viable as they always were. Phew, that’s a relief.
You don’t have to orgasm to get pregnant. You might think that if you’re not having orgasms during sex, you’re preventing pregnancy or not increasing your chances of getting pregnant, but that’s BS. You can still get pregnant without orgasms as long as the semen reaches the released egg.
Your weight can affect your pregnancy chances. If you’re overweight, this can lead to hormonal imbalances and problems with ovulation. Obesity is linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCS), which is a common cause of infertility. Those with PCOS aren’t necessarily infertile but it certainly decreases a woman’s chances of conceiving.
Being too thin is also a problem. It’s not just being overweight that can affect your future fertility—being too thin can also cause issues. If you’re too thin, you might experience irregular periods as your body will produce low amounts of the estrogen hormone. Both can cause you to battle to conceive. Having a healthy body weight is the most important thing you can do to boost your chance of getting pregnant.
Your mom’s menopause age affects you. When did your mom start menopause? If she became menopausal early on, this could be what happens to you. It’s worth knowing the age she went through the change so that you can make decisions about having babies based on how much time you really have.
Chemicals around you can affect you. In a scary study published in the Environmental Health Perspective Journal, pollutants, industrial compounds, and pesticides can lower your chance of having children by up to 29%! There are also common chemicals such as phthalates, which are found in beauty products, that can contribute to early menopause. Yikes.
Smoking is a no-no. Smoking can seriously kill your chances of getting pregnant. It’s to blame for up to 13% of all infertility cases in America alone. If you didn’t already have enough good reasons to quit (or never start in the first place), this is a pretty big one.
Don’t drink too much. If you’re having more than one drink every day, this can prevent pregnancies because drinking too much alcohol is linked to ovulation disorders. A Swedish study found that women who drank the most were more likely to require fertility treatments when compared to women who didn’t.
Keep a check on your cholesterol. Research has found that having high cholesterol can cause problems when it comes to getting pregnant. This can become even more of a problem if your partner also has high cholesterol, so make sure you monitor your levels!
Stress can seriously screw up your chances of conceiving. If you’re stressing a lot now, this could end up giving you fertility problems in future. The thing is, stress is addictive, so you want to get it under control ASAP. A study published in the Human Reproduction journal found that higher stress levels are linked to an increased risk of infertility. How come? When women had high levels of alpha-amylase, which is a stress hormone, their chance of getting pregnant fell 29%. These same women also had a greater risk of experiencing overall infertility.
Being too fit could temporarily make you infertile. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but too much can be bad for your fertility. A Norwegian study looked at 4,000 women under the age of 45 and found that women who were active most days of the week had a three-times greater chance of experiencing fertility problems than inactive women. This is because extreme workouts put lots of pressure on your body, can result in a lack of calories, and could mean you’re underweight. Fertility often comes down to eating well and looking after your body.
Not using condoms can harm your fertility. Do you always use condoms when having sex? Here’s another reason why you should: STIs such as chlamydia can lead to fertility problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease that leads to scarring of the sexual organs. It’s important to stay on top of your sexual health. Along with using condoms religiously, get STI testing regularly so that you can diagnose and treat any STIs that occur before they cause problems. If you treat pelvic inflammatory disease early, you can get it under control and it doesn’t have to make you infertile.
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