Fertility isn’t something most of us think about when we are in our teens or 20s.
In fact, at that age, most of us want to be infertile—at least for the time being.
However, even the most die-hard, the-world-has-enough-screwed-up-people cynic, may someday decide they want a baby or at least want to have that option. (At least that was true in my case. When I was in high school, I even wrote an essay to my future self congratulating me on not having kids.)
Still, I changed my mind when I was in my 30s. I decided I wanted to have a child and without much effort, became pregnant within three months of trying.
I was lucky. However, many friends my age and younger have been struggling with fertility.
Therefore, while the below tips won’t guarantee that you will be completely free of fertility issues, they may help:
Speaking as someone who came of age in the mid-90s and was constantly being bombarded with PSAs and TV ads urging condom use, I am always surprised by the number of people I know who are not practicing safe sex.
Perhaps some of that has to do with the fact that many view being HIV positive as a chronic, long-term disease rather than an automatic death sentence, but the fact is, there are a host of other things out there besides HIV, including chlamydia, which besides being the most common STD in America, can also leave a woman infertile if untreated.
While all of us like to think we know our partners better than anyone else in the world, the truth is we do not. Speaking as someone who once thought I was in a monogamous relationship only to find out that my then-boyfriend had cheated on me with many women, I know how painful and scary it can be to discover the truth.
Bottom line: If you are going to forgo the condoms, then I insist on getting tested before having sex. If you are having sex with more than one person, use condoms each and every time.
2. See the gynecologist once a year for a check-up.
No one I know looks forward to this, but this is a must for every woman over 18 and/or every woman who is sexually active.
Besides testing for STDs, as mentioned above, a gynecologist may notice changes in your body that could indicate a potential fertility problem.
Plus, if you decide you want to get pregnant, s/he will be able to answer any questions you have about peak fertile time, over-the-counter ovulation predictor tests, etc.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Being too heavy or too thin can both wreck havoc on the menstrual cycle and make it more difficult to conceive.
Also, while some women decide to get into peak shape before they conceive, working out too much can lead to irregular or absent periods and may even suppress ovulation.
Again, when in doubt, ask an OB/GYN or other medical provider.
As we all know by now, stress is bad. It can lead to all sorts of health issues and make infertility worse. Many people I know who are struggling with fertility issues turn to meditation, yoga and other stress relievers. However, it’s best to make these practices part of your daily life way before you try to make babies.
At the very least, having effective ways to deal with stress beforehand is a good way to prepare for the stress of possible fertility issues, pregnancy and parenthood.
In conclusion, whether or not you ever decide to hop aboard the baby train it’s always nice to have the option to do so. Taking some simple measures, even if you feel the right time for that is several years away, can be helpful. At the very least, it’s a good way to look after yourself and your health, which is important whether or not you ever become someone’s parent.
Therefore, mother yourself first. Your body and any potential off-spring will thank you.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
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