When you are worried about infertility, it is easy to feel powerless. But with these steps, you can take charge and be proactive about your reproductive health.
There are many reasons why women worry about their fertility, but one thing is sure; when it comes to reproductive health, you want to feel informed and empowered. If you feel worried about infertility, take these steps to ensure that your reproductive health is a priority in your life.
Maintain a Healthy Environment
Your environment has an impact on your health, reproductive and otherwise. If you are concerned about infertility, limit your consumption of alcohol (greater than 14 drinks per week significantly lowers conception rate) and give up smoking, which is known to disrupt hormone production. Research indicates that female smokers are more likely to begin menopause at a younger age than nonsmokers, and that female smokers who become pregnant are more likely to experience ectopic pregnancy.
Also, beware of exposure to environmental hazards such as pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemicals, which can all be hormone-disrupting. If you are unsure if an environmental hazard could affect your reproductive health, speak with a medical health professional.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight and underweight women have increased risk for infertility and less success with fertility treatments. Consistent, moderate exercise is necessary for good health, but exercising to the extent that you experience excessive loss of body fat and/or irregular menstruation is detrimental to your reproductive health. Most estrogen is generated by the ovaries, but 30 percent is produced by fat cells, which convert male hormones (manufactured by the adrenal glands) to estrogen. So, extremely high or low body weight (10-15 percent above or below normal) upsets the hormone balance and can impact fertility.
Monitor Your Body
Your weight and your environment are not the only things that speak to your reproductive health. The hypothalamus gland controls both stress hormones and reproductive hormones, and severely elevated stress hormone levels can impact menstruation, which in turn affects fertility. Moderate your stress hormones by doing activities that you enjoy and by taking time for yourself.
Keeping an eye on your menstrual cycle also helps when assessing your fertility; take note of when your cycle starts and stops, and be sure to note whether it is irregular or unusual in length. Many cases of infertility are caused by problems with ovulation, and your menstrual cycle could give you a clue about the status of your ovulation.
Know When to See a Fertility Specialist
If you have taken steps to feel informed and empowered about your fertility, but you still feel uneasy, consider seeing a fertility specialist. Aside from your regularly scheduled visits with your gynecologist, scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist allows a new set of eyes to analyze your medical history and use several tests as a part of a potential infertility diagnosis. These can include a breast or pelvic exam, blood test, sampling cervical mucus, and performing an ultrasound, among other possible assessment methods.
Decide on Your Options
If your doctor advises that you should consider fertility treatments, you should ask your doctor about options, benefits, side-effects, and risks of the various stages of fertility treatment. Explore alternatives to traditional fertility treatments such as having an egg donor, adopting, or not having children.
Discussing these issues in advance can greatly reduce anxiety throughout the stages of fertility treatment, and it can minimize a sense of disappointment if conception does not result from treatments. Being worried about infertility does not make you powerless; becoming informed and taking actions to live a healthier life are some steps you can take toward caring for your reproductive health.
However you choose to care for your reproductive health, The Woman’s Clinic is with you. To discover additional information about how to prevent infertility in women, fertility treatment options, or an infertility diagnosis, contact us today at (501) 664-4131 or request an appointment.