Most women spend so much time preventing pregnancy in the first 20 to 30 years of their lives, that they’re amazed when they can’t get pregnant when they first start trying. Unfortunately, infertility is more common than you might think: it strikes 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. that are trying to conceive. Nothing can be more devastating than not being able to get pregnant, but there are several steps you can take now that will help enhance your fertility–whether you’re trying to get pregnant now, or later.
- Practice, practice, practice! According to experts, weekly sexual intimacy can help to regulate the menstrual cycle, as well as delay the decline of estrogen with age. More estrogen is also linked to increased bone density, a healthier cardiovascular system, lower “bad” cholesterol, higher “good” cholesterol and a milder menopause.
- Keep your weight in check. Having a BMI higher than 25 can invite a host of health problems, including infertility. Aim for a BMI between 18.5 and 25 to prevent conditions like Polycystic-Ovarian Syndrome, which disrupts the menstrual cycle and makes it harder to get pregnant.
- Quit smoking. As it turns out, smoking isn’t just bad for lungs. It’s also bad for your ovaries: several new studies show that cancer sticks can disrupt ovulation, but the good news is that quitting today can help preserve your fertility.
- Get some sleep. Try to log 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Some infertile women have been shown to have low levels of leptin, a hormone that affects hunger and weight regulation–and less zzz’s mean lower leptin.
- Clean house. Chemicals in home products can affect fertility: polybrominated diphenyl ethers , which is in many flame retardant materials, tech toys, fabrics, and plastics contain this dangeorus chemical. Recent studies show that women with high levels of PBDEs took twice as long to get pregnant compared to women who hadn’t been exposed at such high levels. The chemicals may alter thyroid function and disrupt sex-hormone levels. Make sure to vacuum often and wash your hands often.
- Get tested. Sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility. See your OBGYN regularly and practice safe sex if you aren’t trying with a committed partner.
- Take vitamin B tablets. Folic acid (400 micgrograms a day) is now considered good medicine for all women of childbearing age. We use the B vitamin to make and maintain new cells in skin, hair, nails and throughout the body. The vitamin is also found naturally in leafy greens like spinach.