Keeping an eye on your reproductive health is always a good idea. Whether you are totally set on having kids soon, or you just like to keep your options open, there are little things to do now to help your future fertility. And since most are just general good health practices, you can take care of yourself while giving your potential future children a great start.
Eating healthy foods, being careful with alcohol, and getting enough exercise: this is just good advice for everyone. But did you know that how often you visit the dentist — or even the type of water bottle you use — may also affect your reproductive health? Getting these key things under control now may help you conceive more easily later on.
Chances are, some of these factors are surprising. And while you may need to downsize your regular Starbucks order or take a multivitamin each day, all of these little lifestyle tweaks may help protect your reproductive health in the long run. If you implement these changes now, by the time you are ready to have a baby, the odds will almost certainly be in your favor. After all, you will have enough on your mind by the time that pregnancy test reads positive.
1. Eat More Veggies & Less Meat
A whole foods, plant-based diet may be your ticket to reproductive health. For instance, a 2008 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that replacing animal proteins with plant-based sources may lower the risk of infertility. It's the perfect excuse to enjoy a black bean burrito with loads of extra guac.
2. Use Birth Control
This may sound counterintuitive, but certain STIs could hamper your reproductive health. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can permanently damage your reproductive organs and make conception difficult. Using a barrier method of birth control (such as condoms) with any new partner is a good call.
3. Brush And Floss
You would probably have a chat with your gyno about reproductive health, but your dentist? The idea is not totally far-fetched. "Several studies have indicated that a woman's oral health may be related to her reproductive success," Susan Karabin,a spokesperson for the American Academy of Periodontology told Women's Health. Brush, floss, and get those six-month checkups.
4. Stress Less
Learning to manage stress is one skill that almost everyone — especially people with future parenthood plans — could put to great use. According to the American Psychological Association, high stress may cause irregular menstrual cycles and hamper sexual desire, two factors that can make conception difficult. Of course, de-stressing is easier said than done, so you may want to check out books on the subject or sign up for a relaxing yoga class.
5. Check Your Partner's Health
Conception is a two-way street. And as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine stated, in about 40 percent of couples struggling with infertility, the male parter is a contributing — and sometimes sole — cause of the inability to conceive. If you want to have children with your current SO, then it may be a good time for him to get a full checkup.
6. Take Multivitamin With Folic Acid
If you've ever researched fertility, chances are you were bombarded with a thousand articles telling you about the importance of folic acid. And with good cause: the absence of folic acid can cause spinal bifida (a birth defect that causes the baby's spinal cord to develop improperly) or anencephaly (brain underdevelopment), according to the American Pregnancy Association. Because surprises do happen, it's a good idea to have at least 400 micrograms of folic acid every day just in case you get pregnant sooner than expected. Taking a multivitamin with the recommended dosage can make the process easier.
7. Use A BPA-Free Bottles And Cups
Chances are, you've seen water bottles and other plastics advertised as BPA-free. Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure has been potentially linked to implantation failure, as a Harvard University study found in the April 2012 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. In other words, getting exposed to BPA may make conceiving a baby more difficult. Although the exact cause remains unknown, you may want to double-check your plastic cups and water bottles just to be safe.
8. Chill Out On Caffeine
Bad news Venti coffee lovers: caffeine may affect your fertility. "Stay under 200 to 250 milligrams of caffeine a day," William Gibbons, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Baylor College of Medicine, told WebMD. Too much caffeine may hamper your fertility. If you're downing massive amounts of coffee each day, now might be the time to cut back to more moderate levels.
9. Avoid Potentially Harmful Chemicals
It feels like there's a new study about environmental health scares every week. But according to WebMD, exposure to some pesticides, solvents, and toxins may adversely affect your fertility. If you are exposed to certain compounds at your job, for instance, you may want to research their safety for your reproductive health.