This week is National Fertility Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness, break down taboos, shatter some of the myths surrounding fertility and ultimately encourage people to #TalkFertility.
As someone who has chosen not to have children, my fertility levels are not something I pay much attention to. But having explored the NFA website, I discovered some eye-opening information surrounding the topic. Did you know that by 21, most of us have reached the peak of our fertility? And that by 28 our fertility is starting to decline? I also discovered that IVF isn’t just for women who have “left it too late,” but in fact, most women who are undergoing IVF started trying for a baby in their 30s.
It sounds all doom and gloom, but new data has found that there are now more women in their 30s having babies than there are 20-somethings. Which means that it is, of course, entirely possible to have babies outside of your 20s. If you’re starting to think about your fertility, perhaps you and your partner have decided to have a baby or you to optimize your chances later down the line, there are some things you can do. We called on Sohère Roked, a general practitioner who specialises in Integrative medicine, to find out how to give your fertility a helping hand.
BYRDIE UK: What can someone do to boost their fertility?
SOHÈRE ROKED: There are lifestyle issues that can affect fertility, but it can also be genetic and sometimes cannot be changed if you have a naturally low egg reserve.
- If you’re overweight, losing weight may help.
- Stop smoking.
- Stop or reduce your alcohol intake.
- Switch to a low-sugar diet.
BYRDIE UK: Are there any lesser-known factors that can affect fertility levels?
SR: Stress. High cortisol levels, the stress hormone, can stop your female hormones working effectively and could reduce fertility. We’ve all heard of women who have to have IVF and, once they are more relaxed, end up getting pregnant naturally.
BYRDIE UK: As a guide, when is a woman most fertile in her lifetime and then during her cycle?
SR: Fertility can decline slowly from around 27. During the cycle, [you’re most fertile] around days 12 to 14, but it can last for about a week after ovulation. Some women can tell when they ovulate by a pain on one of their sides around the ovary or a thicker vaginal discharge.
BYRDIE UK: Is it possible to test how fertile you are?
SR: Yes, there is a test called AMH—anti-mullerian hormone—and this gives you an indication of how many eggs you have left and therefore your fertility.
BYRDIE UK: What advice would you give to a couple trying to conceive and perhaps it is taking longer than they had hoped?
SR: The length of time it takes to get pregnant can vary from couple to couple. After a year, it would be worthwhile getting the hormone levels checked in both the man and woman. Men may also need a sperm count test, and women an ultrasound scan of the womb and ovaries.
In general, try to keep healthy with diet and moderate exercise, things to reduce stress like walking outside, yoga and taking time out to relax.
To find out more about National Fertility Awareness Week, check out the website.
Next up: four libido boosters to get you in the mood.