Fertility is a topic that rarely seems to leave the news, and yet it is often surrounded by speculation and scare-mongering. Fertility is also a theme that is particularly relevant to women of our age, especially given some of the Daily Mail scare stories! We were joined by fertility expert Zita West join us, founder of a London fertility clinic who has worked with women across all ages on this personal but hugely important topic. Zita helped us separate fact from fiction, as well as answering all of our questions. Here are our key takeaways:
1. Plan – at what age did you mother have the menopause? If she had it earlier in life then that could be an indication that you need to start trying sooner (although a blood test is the only way to know). Factor in how many children you want to have into your timing and planning. On average it takes 8 – 12 months to get pregnant.
2. Prepare – once you’ve decided you want to start trying, it can be useful to get some medical tests to rule out any problems further down the line e.g. rubella, smear test, thyroid gland, vitamin D and folate levels, zika or a sexual health screening.
3. Aside from the medical situation, you need to examine you’re emotional health too. Stress levels and emotional blocks can be a huge challenge. Create a holistic 360 plan to ensure you’re taking care of your emotional health too.
4. Nutrition is key to having healthy eggs and sperm. Ensure you are getting enough fats and protein in your diet (particularly if you’re vegan). Supplements are important because most of us do not get everything we need through diet.
5. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps many of us to manage stress but try to avoid intensive exercise (more than 14 hrs/week) if you’re trying to get pregnant. Part of the issue is from over-heating, which is something to avoid especially in those first 14 days after ovulation
6. Enjoyment – don’t put the rest of your life on hold! Whilst maintaining a healthy diet is key, you need to learn to build in treats too – indulging in the odd glass of wine could prove more beneficial to your emotional wellbeing than abstaining.
7. Intuition – get in tune with your body rather than relying solely on apps. After taking hormonal contraceptives for years, it can take a while for us to return to our natural cycles and to learn about our bodies. Cervical secretions are an important indication of whats going on internally. They come in the lead up to ovulation and tend to stop after ovulation stops, so monitor them.
8. Fertility issues relate 50% to men and 50% to women. Men tend to be a lot more laid back and optimistic so try to get your partner engaged and educated on fertility. Drinking, smoking and taking drugs will all have a huge impact on the quality of his sperm as can overheating saunas or intense exercise (particularly cycling).
9. Before embarking on IVF its a good idea to get a fertility assessment. Get a blood test and ultrasound to know your ovarian reserve to better understand your chances before investing in IVF. If your reserves are really low, you may be better off looking into alternatives such as egg donation. But remember egg reserves are only part of the equation.
10. Egg freezing buys you time and give you choice, but it doesn’t guarantee a baby. Some eggs will die in the thawing and freezing process and some may not be healthy enough to freeze so you need up to 20 – 30 eggs to give you a better chance of conceiving.
11. You don’t have much control over when you’ll get pregnant but you do have control over other influencing factors; what nutrients you take, how much you drink, how often you have sex etc. Most women don’t have an inability to conceive but they have a tendency to be impatient and put too much pressure on themselves.