Our in-depth State of Fertility study discovered that today, 1 in 2 millennial women (and men) are delaying starting a family. Find out more about the trends and what you need to know.
Let’s face it: Family planning is a huge and life-changing decision, and it can sometimes be uncomfortable to think or talk about. But like all scary medical things, it’s important to face your discomfort head on. Your fertility is no different.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12.1 percent of women will have difficulty getting or staying pregnant. So, grab your favorite hot beverage, sit down in your comfy chair, and give these questions some thought.
1. Do I want kids, and how many?
You don’t have to have a definite plan in mind, but try to have an idea of what your family planning goals are.
Do you want to have kids or think it might not be for you? Planning on becoming a mom within the next year? Do you want one kid or five?
Having a general idea can help you start to plan for the future. For example, if you want to have a big family, you should think about starting younger and spacing your kids closer together.
2. Should I freeze my eggs?
Egg freezing technology has had some significant advancements over the last several years, but it’s still not the right solution for all women and all situations.
Generally speaking, women in their 20s or early 30s will have greater success with egg freezing. Reproductive specialists have varying degrees of success with pregnancy after egg freezing. There’s no guarantee that freezing your eggs now will guarantee a baby later on.
If you’re thinking about freezing your eggs, call a fertility specialist to get more information.
3. What can I do to protect my fertility right now?
There’s so much you can do today to protect your fertility later on:
- Use protection: If you’re not in a monogamous relationship, make sure you use barrier contraception (like condoms) every single time you’re sexually active. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can damage your reproductive organs and make it difficult — or impossible — to get pregnant later on.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or underweight can make it more difficult to get pregnant.
- Quit smoking: If you’re smoking cigarettes, now is the time to quit. Seriously. It’s no secret that cigarettes are bad for you and can hurt a baby if you become pregnant. Check out SmokeFree.gov for some great resources.
4. Do I need medical testing?
The short answer: It depends.
- If you’re over the age of 35 and have been actively trying to get pregnant for over six months, most doctors will recommend you get evaluated.
- If you’re under the age of 35, testing is recommended if you’ve tried to conceive for over one year.
- If you’re not trying to get pregnant, it’s important to get tested for STIs regularly, especially if you’re not in a monogamous relationship.
As always, make sure to keep going to your yearly well-woman visits with your gynecologist.
5. Should I take prenatal vitamins?
Is babymaking in the near future? It may be beneficial to start taking your prenatal vitamin now. Docs recommend that a woman start taking a good quality prenatal vitamin before they actually start trying to conceive.
Look for a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, or ask your doctor for a recommendation.
Don’t forget your partner! It’s actually healthy for men to take a multivitamin around three months before they start trying for a baby, too.
6. What about my birth control?
Some forms of birth control have a longer impact than others. For example, some hormonal birth controls can delay your period for several months. (But check in with your doc to confirm everything is OK.)
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant in the near future, it may help you conceive faster if you stop using hormonal birth control a few months beforehand. On the other hand, if babymaking isn’t in your near future, you may want to consider something that’s more long-term, like an intrauterine device (IUD) or implant.
As always, it’s best to discuss specific medical issues with your doctor. But it can be helpful to start thinking about some of these issues ahead of time. Asking yourself the above questions is a strong place to start.
Nicole is a registered nurse who specializes in women’s health and infertility issues. She’s cared for hundreds of couples across the country and is currently working in a large IVF center in Southern California. >Her book, “The Everything Fertility Book,” was published in 2011. In addition, she runs Tiny Toes Consulting, Inc., which allows her to provide private and personalized support to couples in all stages of their infertility treatment. Nicole earned her nursing degree from Pace University in New York City and also holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Philadelphia University.