5 THINGS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HER FERTILITY
Whether you are currently trying to get pregnant or only considering it for the future, there are certain facts you should know about your fertility to help you better make decisions towards reaching your goal of having a child. Read below for 5 things every woman should know about her fertility.
You Are Fertile For About 2-7 Days Every Month
Unless you have been trying to get pregnant for some time and have researched basal body temperature charting, cervical mucus changes and luteal phase defects, you are most likely not 100% sure as to when your fertile window is each month. The fact is, you can get pregnant for only about one week each month (if you have a normal cycle length lasting approximately 28 days). To narrow it even more, you are only very fertile for about 2-3 days before you ovulate each month. Ovulation is when one egg (called the dominant follicle) has matured enough and bursts forth from the ovary to begin its journey down the fallopian tube to (hopefully) meet its match in a healthy, viable sperm.
Knowing when you ovulate is one of the key factors to achieving a pregnancy. While it is not necessary to make intercourse timing too scientific (and thus unromantic!), it does help to know how to determine when you ovulate. Fortunately, in most cases, it is not difficult (or expensive) to figure out when you ovulate. A few months of BBT (basal body temperature) charting, cervical mucus tracking and OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) can put more power into your own hands in your desire to conceive. At Denver Holistic Medicine, our doctor, Dr. Simone Sturm, can guide you through this powerful, yet simple, process of tracking your fertility and ovulation. Please call our office today to set up an appointment if you are unsure of how to do this, or simply want more support during your process.
2. If You Truly Want Children, Consider Your Biological Clock
Research data has repeatedly proven that conception becomes more difficult the older we get. There is “golden window” for pregnancy, which is approximately 23 years old. Considering that most of us are still involved in our studies, traveling the world, haven’t found the right partner yet or simply don’t want to have children at such a young age, this biological “rule” is often all-too inconvenient.
A recent study looked at what age a couple should start trying to have a family, based on how many kids they eventually want to have and whether or not they are open to IVF treatment.
The study concluded that, if you’re not open to IVF treatment, you should start trying to conceive:
By age 32, if you want a 90% chance of having one child
By age 28, if you want two children
By age 23, if you want three children
If you are in fact open to IVF, the study suggests starting your family:
By age 35, if you want a 90% chance of having one child
By age 31, if you want two kids
By age 28, if you want three kids
Of course, even if you start young, you’re not guaranteed a baby. Call our office today to set up an initial consultation with Dr. Simone Sturm. Considering your entire health history, not just your age, will allow Dr. Sturm to set up a comprehensive treatment plan that will optimize your chances of conceiving, even if you are over 35.
3. Painful Periods and Irregular Cycles Are NOT Normal
While it is normal to have some painful, irregular cycles after your period first begins, until your cycle naturally regulates itself, it is not normal to have consistently irregular or very painful periods during your adult, reproductive years. Some minor discomforts such as mild cramping, fatigue and bloating can be considered normal, however anything outside of this realm, especially when it affects your daily living, is not normal, nor is it necessary to endure. Acupuncture, lifestyle and nutritional changes, as well as herbal therapy, high-quality supplements and medical foods can help balance your body’s hormones so that your experience of your menstrual cycle each month is a positive one.
Severe menstrual cramps that interfere with your daily life can be a result of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease or a hormonal imbalance…all which can result in infertility. Chronically irregular cycles can be a sign of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS is a complex and often diffuse disease process that has a strong component of insulin resistance associated with it. All the above can be regulated and treated holistically.
4. An Unhealthy Lifestyle Directly Affects Your Fertility
Living a health lifestyle cannot protect you from infertility 100% — fertility is a multi-factor process that involves many aspects of biology, psychology and even spirituality.
A few big health habits to watch out for:
Smoking — this may seem like a no-brainer, but did you know that smoking can speed up age-related infertility, as it can illicit earlier menopause.
Being significantly overweight or underweight — obesity may be one of the most common causes of clinical subfertility. A plethora of research studies have shown that a weight loss of only 5-10% of total body weight can lead to the restoration of ovulation (especially in women with PCOS). On the other hand, being significantly underweight can cause the master endocrine gland that regulates the female sex hormones to go into “hibernation mode”. In these cases, gaining weight to achieve a healthy BMI can regulate the body to rebalance optimal hormone levels required for fertility.
Unhealthy diet — while a healthy diet is not a fix-all solution for infertility, research has shown how important a healthy, fertility-specific diet (including nutritional supplementation) can be in boosting fertility. Proper nutrition affects the body on many levels. For example, egg cells require a large amount of cellular energy (called ATP) to function properly, and the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) must grow to a certain thickness and secrete nutrients so a fertilized egg can properly implant – these are only a few of a vast number of biological processes that are also dependent on proper nutritional intake. At Denver Holistic Medicine, Dr. Simone Sturm will conduct an in-depth nutritional consultation with you, which will serve to educate you on the best foods to eat (and which ones to avoid) to optimize your fertility and the future health of your child.
5. You Can Experience Infertility, Even If You Already Have a Child
It seems logical that if you conceived easily in the past, getting pregnant again should be no problem, right? Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Of all couples struggling with infertility, about half have at least one child already. Getting pregnant easily in the past does not guarantee your fertility for the future. This scenario is called secondary infertility, when a couple has one or more children and is not able to conceive again after at least one year of unprotected intercourse. Secondary infertility is caused by the same issues that are responsible for primary infertility: male factors (low sperm count, abnormally-shaped sperm, etc.), blocked fallopian tubes, ovulation problems or fibroids, just to name a few. Often, there are no obvious reasons why things have changed, however, certain conditions like PCOS or endometriosis can worsen with time or weight gain. Of course, age can also be a strong confounding factor with secondary infertility. No matter the reason, Western medical testing (and treatment) are essentially the same for primary and secondary infertility. With both primary and secondary infertility, a holistic approach can often shed more light onto what aspects of a woman’s reproductive function and overall health need to be addressed and/or regulated. At Denver Holistic Medicine, our advanced, holistic diagnostic methods allow us to devise an effective, individualized treatment plan directed at restoring fertility, no matter what the cause.