At what age should a woman start to be concerned about her fertility? Is it in her 20’s? Her 30’s?
A woman should certainly begin to have concerns and plan for her fertility no later than her 30’s, but fertility awareness should begin earlier. This is not to say that women necessarily need to take action in their 20’s to preserve their fertility, however egg freezing may be on option. Fertility awareness begins in your 20’s and ideally includes all-around lifestyle habits, including your sexual health.
Fertility is affected by more than your age, which may come as a surprise to many. For many years, birth control is often utilized to prevent pregnancy – assuming conception will not be an issue. However, infertility does affect many individuals and couples.
In the U.S., about one in eight couples struggle to conceive. There are a variety of reasons for infertility – female factor fertility, male factor fertility or unexplained infertility. For both men and women, infertility can result from an underlying health condition. An example of female factor infertility is endometriosis. Some medical conditions require the assistance of a fertility specialist. In cases of infertility due to lifestyle factors, we recommend the following advice to women in their 20’s and early 30’s:
Watch out for those bad habits.
Those in their 20’s and 30’s often practice certain habits consistent with a youthful lifestyle. Tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption and obesity are all factors that can contribute to difficult conception. These habits can affect your ability to have a child and are also indicative of poor overall health. Most doctors, including fertility specialists, will recommend that in order to prepare your body for the best possible chance for conception, each partner should practice a lifestyle that actively encourages good health. Quitting smoking, cutting down on alcohol, and maintaining a fitness routine and healthy BMI are all excellent areas to start.
Don’t forget about sexual health.
Certain STDs can affect a person’s fertility, especially when left untreated. Many STDs do not exhibit symptoms, so it’s essential that men and women undergo regular STD testing and treatment, along with practicing proper use of contraceptives.
It’s time to start tracking your menstrual cycle.
If you’re on birth control, the type of contraception you use will determine your menstrual cycle. For those not using birth control such as the pill or an IUD, tracking your menstrual cycle is a good way to determine your fertility future. It’s okay to skip a period every so often or have a cycle that doesn’t match up from one month to another. However, if you believe your period is irregular, too heavy or severe, then we recommend contacting your gynecologist first to discuss your symptoms before reaching out to a fertility specialist. Your gynecologist can advise if a fertility issue may be present or if need treatment prior to trying for a baby.
If you are concerned about infertility being an issue you may want to consult your OB/GYN on when to see a fertility specialist.