This year, September 26th marks National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Women’s health and fitness levels are a big component of fertility. But there are many myths which are being mixed in with truths. So what does affect women’s fertility, ability to carry a pregnancy, and chances of success of an FET, and what doesn’t?
Fact: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Certain STIs have been shown to harm future fertility. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported STI in the United States. If left untreated, the infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. PID leaves scar tissue on or in the fallopian tubes, which ultimately prevents your eggs from reaching the uterus. Another common cause of PID is gonorrhea, which is another common STI on the rise in the United States.
Fiction: Birth Control
Studies have shown that hormonal birth control appears to only impact women’s fertility while they are using it. Some women’s bodies may have to adjust to coming off the birth control, but that time period typically only lasts a few months.
Fact: High & Low BMI
According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, twelve percent of all infertility cases are a result of a woman either weighing too little or too much. A woman’s fertility is governed the hormone estrogen, which is produced by fat cells in the body. If a woman is overweight (a BMI of 30 or above), she produces too much estrogen, affecting her ability to conceive. Women with low BMIs (19 or below) don’t have enough fat cells and produce too little estrogen, affecting her ability to ovulate and have regular menstrual cycles.
The media continually runs stories on celebrities who are 45+ having their first pregnancies and babies with ease. But don’t believe everything you hear! A woman’s fertility decreases significantly after the age of 35, and the chances of a miscarriage become greater, as well. Most women after the age of 40 will likely have to seek fertility treatments to become pregnant.
Many studies have been conducted on the effects of caffeine on fertility, which show mixed results. For now, doctors will say that it’s okay to consume caffeine while trying to get pregnant, but it should be limited to 200mg a day (2 or 3 cups of coffee). As with most things, caffeine consumed in moderation shouldn’t impact your fertility.
Fact: Smoking & Alcohol
Up to 13 percent of female infertility is caused by cigarette smoking! It’s best for women to kick the habit, if just for the sake of their fertility. The effects of alcohol on fertility are not as conclusive, but because alcohol is dangerous for pregnancy, doctors may recommend women to avoid it while they are trying to conceive.
Fact (but maybe fiction?): Stress
High stress levels may be associated with an increased risk of infertility. The reason: An increased level of the stress hormone cortisol can halt the creation of progesterone, a hormone which is necessary to make the uterus a cozy place for successful implantation. But new research has suggested that increased levels of stress may not actually have an effect on fertility or treatment success. The conclusion? More data needs to be gathered and more studies need to be conducted to give a definitive answer.
Our friends at the website MomKnowsBest.com recently created a comprehensive guide called How to Get Pregnant Faster. You may find ideas within this well-researched document that you've never considered before!
Have you tried everything you can think of to try to conceive? Are you considering IVF as your next step?
Before you leap forward, you may want to consider embryo adoption. Rather than making more embryos, you receive a gift of embryos that already exist and are waiting for a friendly womb! For more information on embryo adoption and donation, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.