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Preserving Fertility Until YOU’RE Ready for a FamilyAge-related infertility may seem far-off, but preserving fertility is something that you should think about when you’re young, whether or not you have definite plans to have children. The age-related decline in fertility is a natural part of a woman’s life cycle that often catches both men and women by surprise.

What steps can you take for fertility preservation?

If you think that you want to have a family someday, are there steps you can take to preserve or improve your fertility in the future?

There are a number of things you can do today that may help you conceive a child when you’re ready:

1. Healthy lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle with a focus on diet and exercise will help keep your body in good shape for the future.  Pregnancy is one of the riskiest things that women will ever do in their lives and keeping your body in shape is one way to reduce the risk and increase the chance of success.  Among other issues, there is an epidemic of insulin-resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in the United States all of which have an adverse effect on fertility or pregnancy outcome.  A simple diet rule is to eat “things that grow out of the ground” or “things that eat things that grow out of the ground”, i.e. eat less of the processed foods that are so readily available and made enticing through advertising.  A regular exercise routine will also keep you both physically and mentally in shape for life, including pregnancy.

2. Wait for the right partner, but not the “right time.”

We would all agree that having a child with the wrong person isn’t a good idea but once we’ve found Mr. or Mrs. Right, waiting for the perfect time increases the risk that you will either 1) need help, 2) have to make compromises or 3) possibly lose the opportunity all together. There is actually never a perfect time to have a child. They are always messy.

3. Preconception counseling

Preconception counseling can help you identify things that can affect your chances of conceiving as well as identifying potential risks of pregnancy. This enables you to prepare for and possibly improve the outcome of an important event that will change your lives forever.

4. Hormonal suppression

If you know you need or want to delay childbearing, you may want to consider hormonal suppression to decrease your risks of developing endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disease in which the cells that normally line your uterus travel to and take up residence in another part of your body as a natural consequence of menstruation. When these cells live outside of the uterus they can trigger an inflammatory response that can have negative consequences.  Therapies that reduce menstrual flow also reduce the risk of endometriosis. 

5. Freeze your sperm, eggs or embryos.

If you haven’t found the right partner, you can consider freezing your eggs to try to stop the biological clock.If you suffer from medical issues that could threaten your fertility, you can preserve your fertility by freezing sperm, eggs or if you have found the right partner, your embryos.

When you’re young, contraception seems like a more important concern and fertility is a natural process that we often take for granted.  However, time has a habit of slipping away while we’re living and pursuing education and careers.  In the United States, 15% of couples end up seeking help in their pursuit of parenthood.  You can reduce that risk by understanding the issues, being proactive and talking to a fertility specialist if you have questions.