If you are a woman in your 20s, planning for pregnancy might be the last thing on your mind, but we encourage you to take time now and understand steps you can take now to help reduce potential issues of getting pregnant when you are ready. Did you know 1 out of 8 couples struggle with infertility? Many people do not realize this because infertility is not something people talk about. All the education we receive in our high school heath class is how easy it is to get pregnant, there should be education on how difficult it can be to get pregnant when you are ready for a baby.
We are not trying to sound of the alarm bells, scare you or cause worry about the what ifs, but we are encouraging you to be smart about your health and fertility now to help make it a bit easier when you ready to start building your family!
Practice Healthy Habits
When you are in your 20s, you tend to burn the candle at both ends. Days are hectic, nights are sleepless and meals are quick and lean. Taking time to implement healthy changes in your daily lifestyle can have a long-lasting effect, not only on your future fertility but also on the quality of your life right now.
Eating a well-balanced diet is important, providing not only the vital nutrients necessary for your own daily functions but also building a healthy foundation for future pregnancy. One of the most important nutrients is folic acid, which is a B-vitamin necessary for proper neural development in a baby in the early stages of pregnancy, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends at least 400 micrograms per day. A daily vitamin supplement should be taken if your diet does not provide this amount consistently.
For your physical and mental well-being, exercise is important as well. Not only will exercise build muscle and bone tissue and help you maintain a healthy weight range for your height, it will also decrease your stress levels. Stress can be very detrimental to overall body health when unresolved and constant over a period of time. In addition to exercise, meditation, prayer or online counseling may be useful in helping you to find ways of coping with stress.
Seek Healthy Support
Building a healthy lifestyle takes work and support to achieve, so make sure your doctors are a part of your mission. Getting a regular physical with your primary care doctor will enable you both to keep track of your health and detect any issues or problems early. Many genetic diseases become exacerbated by pregnancy or have a negative effect on fertility, but early detection and treatment can decrease these effects. A yearly visit to your gynecologist is also in order and should include a breast exam, a Pap smear and screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other reproductive issues, both environmentally-caused and age-related, which could become a problem as you enter your 30s.
Practice Healthy, Safer Sex
Many STDs can cause significant damage to your reproductive system, scarring the delicate tissues and making it difficult or even impossible to conceive later in life. Even if you use oral birth control, it is a very good idea to use a condom as well. The barrier a condom supplies will decrease your risk of exposure to most serious STDs. Frequent testing is also a positive choice and you should encourage your partner to get tested as well.
Your 20s may seem early to start thinking about your future fertility, but making healthy, safe choices now may mean avoiding the stress and expense of fertility treatments when you are ready to become pregnant in your 30s or later.