Many people want to have children, but they don’t feel like they are ready. Whether they are focusing on their career, building financial stability, or facing medical treatments that could affect their ability to conceive, many people want to have the option to have a baby later on. That’s where fertility preservation comes in. No matter the reason you want to postpone having children, taking steps to preserve your fertility can make conceiving in the future possible.
Ways to Preserve Your Fertility
If you want to have a baby in the future and are interested in fertility preservation, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your doctor. You may need to consult a fertility specialist to discuss cryopreservation or get tested for things like ovarian reserve.
Cryopreservation involves retrieving and freezing human reproductive tissue for later use in treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). The tissues are frozen at extremely low temperatures – sometimes lower than 350 degrees below freezing. Tissues that can be preserved this way include:
- Oocytes (eggs)
- Embryos (eggs fertilized with sperm in a lab)
- Ovarian or testicular tissue
While cryopreservation is the most effective way to preserve fertility, you can make changes to your everyday life that may increase your chances of conceiving when you are ready.
1. Eat well: Whether you want to get pregnant in five years or one year, it’s never too early to alter your diet and make healthy choices that may affect fertility. Cut out processed sugar and carbohydrates like white bread. Replace them with whole grains and vegetables that take longer to digest. Choose healthy fats and cut out trans and saturated fats. Lastly, try to get lean protein with fish, eggs, beans, and plant-based foods.
2. Have safe sex: If you’re not actively trying to get pregnant, practice safe sex. If you want to get pregnant later (but not now), you should use condoms to prevent getting an STD that can affect fertility. Make sure you and your partner get tested regularly.
3. Stop smoking: Smoking cigarettes causes earlier menopause, decreased egg number and quality, decreased sperm quality, and increased risk of miscarriage. Smoking will also decrease your chances of conceiving with IVF in the future. One way to think of it is; smoking doubles the time to conception and doubles the cost of fertility treatments.
4. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or underweight can alter your ovulation and hormone levels, contributing to infertility. Reaching a healthy BMI between 19 and 24 can help increase your chances of conceiving. It is best to be proactive and get to a healthy weight before getting pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), losing just 5-7% of your current weight can make an impact.
5. Exercise: Getting exercise regularly has been found to decrease the risks of infertility. Doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise daily.
6. Discuss your birth control choices: Depending on how soon you want to get pregnant, you may need to ask your doctor about how to proceed with birth control. There is some misinformation about how birth control methods like hormonal pills and the IUD affect ovulation. Some think it will take a long time to resume regular ovulation after they quit using the pill or an IUD. However, ovulation can return within two weeks after your last dose of oral birth control and your fertility returns as soon as an IUD is removed. The only method that does have long term effects is the Depo-Provera injection, which can take up to 10 months to clear the system.
7. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Studies show more than 4 drinks per week in men and women are linked with decreased fertility. There is less evidence about caffeine contributing to infertility, but some studies show there might be a link between too much caffeine and endometriosis or fallopian tube issues.
8. Take the recommended vitamins and supplements: Make sure you take a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid and iron. Both nutrients have been linked to lower risks of infertility.
Make an Appointment
Carolinas Fertility Institute is committed to helping women preserve their fertility until they are ready to start a family. Our egg preservation program, Ovest, allows women to empower themselves by letting them decide when is the right time to start a family. With this program, women can determine whether to freeze eggs, when to do this, and how many should be preserved to achieve their goals. CFI’s Ovest program is structured to help answer all your fertility preservation questions, so you can make the right decision for YOU. To find out more about taking control of your fertility with Ovest, call (336) 448-9100 to make an appointment at one of our offices in the Triad, or call (844) 686-2233 to make an appointment at our Charlotte office. You can also request a consultation online.