In our 2nd special focus article for Women’s Month, we’re looking at female fertility, and how that can be affected by our everyday lifestyle choices. We’ll also give you some simple steps to consider to help keep your reproductive system healthy.
Female fertility: Why lifestyle choices count
Whether you’re planning on getting pregnant soon, or only in the distant future, it’s important to know how to promote and protect your fertility. While there are various medical issues that could contribute to female fertility problems, and which would have to be treated by a medical professional, there are healthy lifestyle choices that can help promote your fertility.
What can you do to promote your fertility?
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or significantly underweight can affect hormone production and prevent normal ovulation. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase the frequency of ovulation and likelihood of pregnancy.
- Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Sexually transmitted infections — such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea — are a leading cause of infertility for women. Always practice safe sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom each time you have sex — or stay in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who isn’t infected.
- Eat a healthy diet. The healthier your body, the better it functions. Eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and a variety of protein sources will serve you well whether or not you’re trying to conceive.
- Schedule regular check-ups. Regular visits to your health care provider can help you detect and treat health conditions that might threaten your fertility.
So what should you avoid?
Healthy lifestyle choices count here, too. To protect your fertility:
- Don’t smoke. Smoking ages your ovaries and depletes your eggs prematurely.
- Limit your alcohol intake. Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation disorders. If you’d like to get pregnant, consider avoiding alcohol completely.
- Easy on the caffeine. Although there isn’t a clear link between too much caffeine and infertility, most reproductive experts recommend limiting the amount of caffeine in your diet to less than 200 to 300 milligrams a day — if you’re trying to conceive.
- Try to avoid too much stress. While stress won’t keep you from getting pregnant, consider minimising stress and practicing healthy coping methods — such as yoga or relaxation techniques — when you’re trying to conceive.
In our final Women’s Month article next week, we’ll be looking at heart disease, and why more heart attacks are still missed in women than men, despite it being the number 1 killer of women.