Should Younger Women Care About Their Fertility?

When you’re in your 20s, fertility might not be at the top of your mind, especially if you’ve positioned education, career, travel or romance ahead of starting a family. In fact, a recent poll found that of people in the United States of childbearing age, 24% who weren’t already parents did not plan on having any children, while half said they planned to have fewer children than their parents did.

However, it is possible to change your mind about starting a family over time. Ergo, even if you aren’t ready for pregnancy now, it’s a good idea to treat your body as if you’ll be ready someday. Here are three reasons why – and three ways in which – young women should take care of their fertility now:

1. Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Practicing “safe sex” is one important way to safeguard your fertility and indeed your overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends chlamydia and gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women under age 25, due to an overwhelming estimate that millions of women in the United States are affected. Left untreated, these STDs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), fallopian tube infections and damage to the uterus.

Other STD health risks include cervical cancer due to human papillomavirus (HPV), immune system complications due to HIV and AIDS, dementia or organ damage due to syphilis, and more. Pregnant women who have or acquire STDs during gestation can pass certain diseases along to their unborn babies. In short, for the good of your health, your fertility and a potential future pregnancy, protect your body from STDs by using condoms and undergoing regular STD screenings if you are sexually active.

2. Learn about familial health concerns that might impact your fertility
Talking to your genetic relatives about health concerns that run in the family is another early step young women can take. For one thing, chromosomal abnormalities might affect your own health, let alone a future baby’s. If you don’t have access to family medical records, certain genetic tests are available to rule out mutations, which might affect the health and quality of life of your unborn baby.

Conditions that affect fertility – such as endometriosis – are believed to result largely or in part from heredity. Early diagnosis and treatment is the most effective way to optimize your fertility in the long or short term.

3. Talk to your healthcare provider early about family planning
In addition to other health-related topics, you can discuss fertility with your gynecologist during your annual well woman visit. Having this chat before you’re seriously considering getting pregnant is completely acceptable. Your doctor can make recommendations for diet and exercise habits that will help your health and wellness now and, in the future, when you may try to become pregnant.

Additionally, should you find yourself in a situation where a health concern might threaten your fertility (such as undergoing cancer treatment or dealing with endometriosis), your doctor can advise ways to preserve or enhance your fertility. He or she can also facilitate genetic testing should you want to rule out genetic complications.

The sooner you start caring about fertility, the easier it will be to conceive when the time is right. To schedule a well woman visit in San Francisco, contact PWOG today.

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