If I would have had a child when I was the same age as my mom, I would currently have a 12-year-old human. While she never had to worry about what to do to extend her fertility, here I am at 34, often overwhelmed by raising my dog, and no closer to being ready for motherhood than when I was 22. Still, I like to think that if I change my mind, my ovaries will get on board and join the pregnancy party. The truth is, science is both encouraging and scary when it comes to mid and late life conception. On one hand, there are all kinds of success stories and fertility interventions that make pregnancy totally possible. On the other hand, every year you wait makes it that much more difficult.
If you're on the fence about kids, if you're rocking a killer career, or if you haven't met your ideal co-parent, you might be filled with anxiety about your potential future fertility. If you're the proactive type, there are several steps you can take now to help ensure that you have the best chance possible. If you do decide to get pregnant, these lifestyle changes could give you a few extra years. At the very least, they're healthy habits that support far more than just the health of your ovaries.
1. Take Good Care Of Yourself
"Live a healthy lifestyle" sounds like generic advice, but it's one of the best ways to prolong your fertile years, according to the Mayo Clinic. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep now will make a big difference later. And if you can't convince yourself to get some exercise, do it for your future children. You can always guilt them about it later.
2. Manage Your Vices
Smoking is one of the worst habits in terms of your long-term fertility, as it slowly destroys your eggs and ovaries, according to the Mayo Clinic. It also depletes your body of zinc, and it may contribute to early menopause. If you plan to get pregnant at any time in your life, whether it's in a few years or a decade, quit now.
3. Get Tested
Sexually transmitted infections are super common and either curable with antibiotics or easy to treat and manage. You don't have to be afraid to face them. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting checked at your annual exam, and then every time you have a new sex partner. You should also get tested if any of your existing partners get an STD. If you do have something and you don't get treated, the infection could progress into the ovaries and Fallopian tubes, silently destroying your fertility.
4. Get Off Of The Graveyard Shift
Graveyard shift work messes up your circadian rhythms, which are closely tied to your hormones. That change in hormone production decreases fertility. If you have to work overnight, you're not totally sabotaging your fertility, but if you can work days instead, do it. Every little bit helps.
5. Take Prenatal Vitamins
Our food isn't a nutrient-rich as it used to be, according to David Cohen in an article for Daily Mail. For this reason, a high-quality prenatal vitamin can be useful to help fill in any gaps in your overall nutrition. Plus, taking prenatal vitamins helps prevent birth defects once you're actually pregnant.
6. Avoid Toxins When You Can
Regular, prolonged exposure to certain chemicals, such as those regularly used by salon, dry cleaning and dental professionals, have been linked to reduced fertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Avoid these toxins if possible and if you work in these fields, use every safety precaution provided to you in order to minimize your exposure.
If you do all of these things and you decide to have a baby, you've put yourself in the best possible position. If you decide to stick with pet parenthood or to fly solo, you'll be healthy enough to make the most of all that extra income and free time.
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