Written by: Monica Cox, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Like many women, you've been taught how NOT to get pregnant. But most likely not the importance of supporting your fertility health before you're ready to get pregnant, especially if you know a family will be something you build later in life.
If you make it your goal to conceive in a healthy body, you'll make it well into your 30's and NOT feel like your clock is ticking or have a laundry list of must-dos to improve your chances of getting and staying pregnant. And don't worry too much about the old myth that your fertility dramatically decreases when you hit your 30's. The medical journal Human Reproduction got this data from church birth records and rural France between 1670 -1830. Recent medical studies show that ovarian ageing is more about cellular health than your age.
What you want to focus on before you're ready to get pregnant is your day to day "normal" health issues, including headaches, gut issues, thyroid problems, PMS, hormonal imbalances, skin issues, anxiety and more. In many cases, all those minor "normal" health issues can become one big problem later, which can harm your chances of getting pregnant, including low egg quality. Everyone's bodies are different, so this means you have to find out how your body is acting right now. Look at your everyday health issues and see if anything, including environment, diet and lifestyle, may negatively impact your mental and physical health.
When I started trying for a baby at the age of 27, I (and doctors) said/thought that I was healthy. I was fit and active; I ate better than most, never had an eating disorder, smoked or took drugs and drank what everyone else was drinking. So why wasn't I getting pregnant when everyone else living the same lifestyle around me was? After years of never getting pregnant, two failed IVF's and no other apparent signs; we discovered that my normal lifestyle was not only affecting my fertility but making me infertile. Remember, I had no obvious symptoms, just "normal" ones; gut issues (including IBS), ovarian cyst & hormonal issues (crazy PMS).
My unexplained infertility exposed my silent autoimmune issue, which had been slowly developing over the years. Luckily, I was able to start taking steps to restore my fertility and achieve my dream family, but if I had been aware of some of the simple changes I could have made during my 20's, I could have saved myself a lot of time, effort, money and heartache.
By making a few fundamental changes, you can support your body in mantling proper health & keeping your fertility strong for when you're ready to get pregnant (along with limiting the medical support). Here are the top five ways to support your fertility before you're ready to get pregnant:
1. Be Aware of Thyroid Health
Thyroid dysfunction is relatively high in the general population. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), it is often undiagnosed - One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones released from the thyroid gland, including the body's metabolism, blood calcium levels, fat metabolism, energy production, oxygen utilization, the balance of other hormones & weight maintenance. So you can see why it's so important to keep it healthy. The best way to do this is by eating clean & discovering your food intolerances. Limit sugars, caffeine, hydrogenated oils, cigarette smoking, and alcohol & exposure to heavy metals, including mercury, fluoride, and bisphenols. Stress management is essential and moderate exercise is beneficial.
2. Take Care of your Gut
It all starts in the gut – a healthy gut dramatically improves your health & fertility. Also, your growing babies' digestive tract will be colonized by the same bacteria in your gut - how amazing is that!?! This is done (again) by eating clean, being conscious about how much sugar you're having a day and supporting good bacteria by eating Lacto-Fermented Foods or taking a good probiotic (not those silly yoghurt drinks)!
3. Be Aware of your Birth Control
As women, we're lucky to live in a time when we have control over our bodies- this includes the many different birth control options available to us. However, hormonal birth control can have unwanted side effects on a woman's body, including unwanted weight gain, depression, and oxidative stress- leading to chronic stress, hormone imbalance, and infertility. Being aware of how your body is affected by hormonal birth control is vital- listen to what your body is telling you. If you don't feel right about it, talk with your doctor and find a better alternative.
4. Movement and Sleep
Keep moving – you're young and fit, you love to dance and beat the boys down the hill, so this should be no problem! Find what works best for you and do it 3 to 5 times a week! And then Sleep. Sleep is one of the most underrated habits you can do for your health. Find what works for you – I'm a 7 to 9 hours type of girl & that works great for me! I find that if I go to bed later than midnight, I feel like a zombie, even if I get 7 hours. If this sounds familiar, try to get to bed before 10 pm!
5. Take Control of your Emotions and De-Stress
Two things that I learned about emotions during my journey:
Take responsibility for your emotions- Sorry, but the excuse that someone made you feel that way is BS- no one can make you feel something.
Acknowledge your emotions- Give them the support they need and then let them go. Once I embraced these two little nuggets of knowledge, my journey became a little less rocky, and I became a little less vulnerable. The knowledge that I had complete control over how I reacted to the events that have and will unfold in my life completely changed how I looked at the world around me. This helped me to reduce stress in my life and not sweat the small stuff.
Whether you're planning on starting your family sooner or later in life, follow the tips above to increase your odds of getting pregnant and creating the family of your dreams.
Monica Cox, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Monica Cox is a top Functional Fertility Coach and Infertility Warrior. She helps women get to the bottom of their fertility issues, using science-based functional medicine to help increase their chances of getting and staying pregnant. She dealt with years of unexplained infertility, failed IVF's & survived several miscarriages before becoming an IVF mom & getting pregnant natural even though the doctors said there was nothing she could do to improve her situation. Author of the best-selling journals Boost Your Embryos, Baby & Me, and Fertility Food and host of the highly popular podcast Finding Fertility, Monica is dedicated to inspiring women to look beyond their infertility diagnosis and take control of their health through clean eating and simplifying their lifestyle. Her signature online program, The Fertility Formula & personal Fertility Focused Coaching, has helped woman increase their chances of creating the family of their dreams.