Women are delaying starting a family for various reasons… focusing on careers, building finances or waiting for the right person. The average age in Australia for women having their first baby is 31 and many now starting in their late 30’s and 40’s. Knowing that egg freezing or IVF are options at a cost if needed can be reassuring but they should not be relied on and are in no way a guarantee. In fact, most women who access IVF never thought they would end up there. Preserving your fertility is a way to engage in your health now without obsessing and panicking so when your time comes to try for a baby you have a good foundation for a healthy conception, pregnancy and child.
Get to know and love your unique cycle. Our periods and vaginal mucus give us clues to what is happening inside us. Use pads or a menstrual cup to observe your blood flow and note down your mucus patterns over a couple for months to recognise the changes. If you have PMS, pain or irregularities to your cycle then investigate, address and correct them now. If you are on the pill, implant or IUD because you had complications in your early years of menstruation it may be worth coming off for a while to see what is happening now and correct any imbalances. In the mean time you can use condoms or BBT charting to avoid pregnancy.
Asking questions and sharing stories from our mothers, aunts, grandmothers and even male family members can give us clues into our own fertility journey. You may find genetic links or patterns that occur with gynaecological health, fertility hurdles, pregnancies, birth and menopause. We do not always follow the patterns though and other lifestyle, age and cycle issues can play a part but it is interesting to gain insights into our female linage.
Do you have any internal dialogue about your future fertility? You could have been told in the past that you would have trouble conceiving, may have friends or family struggling, obsessing, panicking or have set life or age goals you are not meeting. Do you harbour any fears, worries or hang-ups about being pregnant or becoming a mother? Start writing these thoughts down, looking for their source and speaking them out loud to yourself, partner, friends or a professional. Be honest and truthful with yourself as these thoughts can fester, transfer to other emotions or even show as physical symptoms and are carried with us into trying to conceive, pregnancy and parenting.
Time to address those niggling health concerns that we can put up with for a long time in our early years. Sleep, digestive and inflammatory issues can effect our hormones as well as our well being.
Sexual health blood tests are advised with any new sexual partner but if you are single and not been checked it is advised. Chlamydia can have silent symptoms when contracted and if untreated can damage your tubes. Knowing this sooner than later can mean treatment and preventable complications.
Your family history research may uncover if not known some hereditary diseases. Thyroid issues are common and healthy levels are paramount in conception and pregnancy. Having simple blood tests with your GP can detect any action required or red flags for future health risks on anything you are concerned about.
Many people don’t have a regular GP. Finding one now can be useful in establishing a relationship for when you do need future or regular appointments. For fertility and pregnancy the continuity of care with a known practitioner can be very supportive. They know your history and view you more holistically than just your symptoms.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking increases our fertile age, effects egg quality and general health. This is your first priority and get support if you need to. Our bodies are more forgiving to bad diets and drinking when we are younger but it does start to catch up with us. In Chinese Medicine there is great emphasis on longevity of life. Treating yourself with moderation from a young age so that we don’t burn our resources up. I liken this to a battery, we cannot replace our battery but we can charge it from time to time. Unfortunately in the West we do drain our battery in our early life and when it comes to trying to conceive later we have can have less energy, poorer health and egg quality and abnormal sperm.
Being over weight or under weight can effect health and ovulation. If you have food intolerances or need help maintaining adequate weight seek a professional for help. Following restrictive diets just because it is a trend or worked for a friend (or celebrity) can mean missing out on essential nutrients and vitamins and may not be suited for your body type. My advice is all food groups in moderation and avoid foods that you know don’t digest well or cause a problem for you. The Mediterranean diet always comes up on top for best health outcomes but I also think this has to do with growing your own food and being active outdoors in clean air. Fresh food should be seasonal, without heavy processing or chemicals and enjoyable to cook, eat and share.
Kerry is available at Mornington Chinese Medicine from 9am to 2pm on Tuesday and Friday.
138 Tanti Avenue, Mornington, VIC
03 5973 6886