How Can Women Check Their Fertility? | A Guide to Fertility Tests
Understanding Fertility in Women Why and When to Check Your Fertility Initial Self Assessment and Tracking Overview of Fertility Tests Common Fertility Issues Identified Through Testing Next Steps After Fertility Testing FAQs If you’re planning a family, now or in the future, checking your fertility can offer you insights and peace of mind. Navigating fertility testing can be both enlightening and empowering, offering valuable insights into your reproductive health. This comprehensive guide will serve as your go-to resource for female fertility tests, providing detailed information about different types of fertility testing, and everything you need to know to take control of your reproductive health, wherever you are in your fertility journey. We’ll cover where you can get female fertility tests done and when you would be eligible, including fertility tests on the NHS, fertility tests at home, and fertility tests online. We’ll also explain how fertility tests are carried out, whether they’re painful, and information about blood tests. We’ll delve into the hormones and individual tests so you know exactly how the tests work, what exactly they’re testing for, and what your fertility test results mean for you. You can get answers to your fertility testing questions including: Understanding Fertility in Women Let’s start with the foundations of female fertility and the biological processes that govern your reproductive system. Your fertility is influenced by various factors, both physiological and environmental. Understanding what goes on inside, and how your fertility works, helps you gain a deeper understanding of fertility testing. Menstrual Cycle The foundation of fertility lies in your menstrual cycle—a recurring roughly 28-day cycle that’s regulated by your hormones. A normal menstrual cycle can last between 25-31 days. The cycle consists of phases, including menstruation (when you get your period), the follicular phase, ovulation and the luteal phase. Within different phases of your menstrual cycle, different things are happening in your body, all orchestrated by your hormones. Each phase has its superpowers, but for fertility, the most important phase is ovulation. Ovulation Ovulation is when a mature egg is released from the ovary making it available for fertilisation (the first step of conception and pregnancy). Ovulation typically happens around the middle of the menstrual cycle (around day 14 of a 28-day cycle, but it might be later or earlier depending on your cycle length) and is an important moment in the fertility timeline. The egg travels down the fallopian tube where it awaits potential fertilisation by sperm. If you’re not ovulating, this could impact your fertility potential. Issues with ovulation accounts for 40% of female infertility. Fertilisation and Implantation Fertilisation occurs when sperm successfully penetrates the egg. If it does fertilise it, the fertilised egg is called a zygote. The zygote travels down the fallopian tube towards the uterus where its goal is to successfully attach itself to the uterine wall lining (implantation). From there, it grows and develops into a baby. Hormone Regulation Hormones play a crucial role in the menstrual cycle and fertility. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) released from the pituitary gland in your brain, along with oestrogen and progesterone from the ovaries, regulate the various phases of the cycle. Each hormone has a specific role to play. A big part of female fertility testing is testing your hormones to offer insights into your fertility. Ovarian Reserve Your ovarian reserve refers to the quantity of eggs you have remaining. It gradually declines with age, particularly after the age of 35. Assessing ovarian reserve provides insights into a woman’s fertility. Age, and therefore, declining ovarian reserve, is the most common reason for infertility. Cervical Mucus and Reproductive Environment The consistency of cervical mucus changes throughout the menstrual cycle. Just before ovulation, and during ovulation, your cervical mucus becomes slippery and water like to help the sperm travel through the fallopian tube to meet the egg, for the egg to become fertilised. If fertilisation is successful, the next stage towards healthy pregnancy is implantation (when the fertilised egg successfully attaches to the uterus wall lining). For implantation to be successful, the uterine lining has to be thick enough. If implantation doesn’t occur, the uterine (womb) wall lining sheds resulting in a period (and no pregnancy). External Factors Lifestyle factors such as nutrition, sleep and overall health can impact fertility. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for optimising reproductive function. Why and When to Check Your Fertility There are various reasons why and optimal times you’d want to check your fertility from age-related concerns to family planning and if you’ve been trying to conceive without success. Family Planning If you want to get pregnant or are planning a future pregnancy, checking your fertility from the get-go could be beneficial. Getting a fertility test at the start of your journey can help to start your journey from a place of knowledge and understanding. Some individuals and couples wait until the 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month mark trying to conceive without success before pursuing a fertility test. To get a fertility test on the NHS, you have to have been trying for a year without success. You can, however, check your fertility from the comfort of your own home at any point in your fertility journey. The earlier you know, the better, since fertility declines with age. Age-related Concerns Concerns about age-related fertility decline might prompt you to check your fertility to assess your ovarian reserve and fertility potential, especially if you’re considering delaying conception until later in life. This might be the case if you’re in your 30s but don’t want a baby yet. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have (the ovarian reserve), and as you age, you gradually lose eggs every menstrual cycle. Your naturally declining ovarian reserve is the leading cause of infertility. In your 20s and early 30s, you are considered at your most fertile age. After the age of 35, fertility can decrease significantly. This prompts many to take a fertility test whether it’s out of curiosity or wanting to plan […]
Cervical Health and Fertility: What You Need to Know | Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
Your cervical health plays a crucial role in fertility and your overall reproductive health. Your cervix has some important biological roles that support conception and pregnancy. This January as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, we explore how to improve your cervical health to prevent cervical cancer, enhance your fertility and improve your overall reproductive health. Check in on your reproductive health But why is it so important? Every year, more than 3,200 people are affected by cervical cancer in the UK. Two women lose their lives to cervical cancer every week and nine more receive a life-changing diagnosis. Despite this, 1 in 3 people don’t attend their smear test. Yet, if it’s caught early, cervical cancer can be treated. Some countries, like Sweden, predict that they will have eliminated cervical cancer by 2030, while the UK aims to eliminate it by 2040. Ensuring that you have your HPV vaccination and also attending your Cervical Screening when you’re invited (every 3 years on the NHS between the age of 25-49 and every 5 years after that until to turn 64, the frequency may increase depending in case you have any abnormal results), is the best way to protect against cervical cancer. So, what is cervical health? Understanding Cervical Health Cervical health refers to the health and functioning of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. To check your cervical health, you need to attend regular cervical screenings, (known as the smear test), and ensure you have your HPV vaccination. Understanding how your cervical fluid changes throughout your menstrual cycle can give you insight into your fertility. Knowing what your cervical fluid looks and feels like throughout your menstrual cycle can help you identify your optimal fertile window (when you’re most likely to get pregnant). Usually, it becomes more slippery, slimy like egg white around ovulation, to help the sperm swim up towards the cervix. Cervical screenings check the health of your cervix. It’s not a test for cancer, but it’s a test to help prevent cancer. They are crucial in spotting any changes in the cervical cell which could be signs of an infection or cervical cancer. Cervical cancer often remains undetected because someone may not always experience symptoms so ensuring your cervical screening is up to date is an important preventative measure. Symptoms like a change in your vaginal discharge, bleeding between periods, or during or after sex, unexplained pain in your lower back or pelvis, or pain and discomfort during sex can all indicate cervical infection or cervical cancer. Cervical Cancer Awareness Month aims to encourage more people to attend their cervical screening appointment and take their HPV vaccinations, (in case they haven’t already got it) to prevent cervical cancer as well as raise awareness about common signs and symptoms. You know your body better than anyone. Becoming attuned to it will empower you and help you spot anything out of the ordinary. If you notice anything that doesn’t feel normal (symptoms like bleeding between periods, or unusual vaginal discharge, for example) when it comes to your reproductive health, especially if you’re trying to conceive or plan to have a baby in the future, speaking to a healthcare professional and getting the necessary tests early in the process is key. The Connection Between Cervical Health and Fertility First, let’s talk about the cervix and how it’s related to your fertility. It is the mouth of the uterus and connects it to the vagina. Your cervix is a narrow, cylinder-shaped passage, this is where all the uterine lining will pass through during your period. When in labour, the cervix is also the part that dilates, so the baby can be delivered. It’s the part that dilates when you’re giving birth, but it’s more than just a passageway. The cervix plays a key role in conception. When you ovulate, your cervical fluid (sometimes called cervical mucus) becomes watery to help transport the sperm from the vagina towards the cervix and to the egg to become fertilised (the first step of conception). Your cervical health can affect your fertility in various ways. Infections, cervical cancer and structural abnormalities can lead to your cervix not functioning properly. Without the cervical fluid that helps to transport the sperm, and the protective barrier your cervical fluid creates during pregnancy, a poorly functioning cervix could have led to complications. After ovulation, your cervical fluid becomes sticky and thick, acting like a barrier to the sperm. If this happens around the time of ovulation, it could inhibit sperm from reaching the egg, preventing fertilisation and conception. If you do become pregnant, poor cervical health can cause miscarriage or preterm labour. Infections of the cervix, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can negatively impact fertility. Infections cause inflammation and scarring of the cervix, which can affect its normal function and increase the risk of infertility. Common Cervical Health Issues Affecting Fertility Cervical Infections Can Affect Fertility Infections of the cervix, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can negatively impact fertility. Infections cause inflammation and scarring of the cervix, which can affect its normal function and increase the risk of infertility. Cervical Polyps Can Affect Fertility Cervical polyps are growths that can develop on the cervix. Polyps are usually (benign) harmless and do not often cause any symptoms, but they can sometimes cause fertility issues – or increase the risk of miscarriage. Once found, the treatment is usually to remove them. The process of removal depends on the size, type, location, visibility and number of polyps. Cervical Dysplasia Can Affect Fertility Cervical dysplasia is a cervical condition in which abnormal cells grow on the surface of your cervix. Cervical dysplasia (also known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN) is not cancer but left untreated, it can develop into cervical cancer and affect fertility so early detection and treatment is key. (Cervical dysplasia is often termed “precancerous”, which can sound scary, but if you get timely treatment, most people who get it […]
How Ageing Can Affect Fertility Rate in Women
Understanding Female Fertility and AgeAt What Age Does Fertility Decline?How Age Affects Fertility in WomenFertility Milestones by Age GroupPlanning for Family: Age and Fertility StrategiesMyths vs Facts: Female Fertility and AgeFAQs Age is one of the biggest factors affecting women’s fertility. Although ageing is inevitable, how it affects your fertility is complex, and varies between individuals. As women age, their reproductive health undergoes various changes that impact conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. But how and why does fertility decrease with age, and what can we do about it? We get it—you want to know, ‘What is the best age to have a baby?’, ‘What age does a woman stop being fertile?’ and ‘What are the chances of getting pregnant over 35 naturally?’ In this article, we explore how and why ageing affects fertility, offering insights into hormonal shifts, alterations in egg quality and quantity, and your reproductive health overall. We’ll cover everything you need to know about fertility in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond, so you’re equipped to make informed family planning decisions as you navigate ageing and fertility. Understanding Female Fertility and Age To understand how ageing affects female fertility, and whether there’s an age limit to pregnancy, we need to go back to the basics of female fertility with a biology lesson. Female and those AFAB fertility is closely tied to the menstrual cycle. The average menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, but it can vary. The menstrual cycle involves the release of an egg (ovulation) and the build-up of the uterine wall lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have. Your eggs are stored in your ovaries and this pool of immature eggs is known as your ovarian reserve. Each month, a couple of eggs from this pool start to mature, but only one egg is eventually released during ovulation. But here’s the thing: as you age, the quantity and quality of your eggs decline—they age too! Hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone, play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle. Hormonal balance is therefore essential for the proper functioning of your reproductive system, but hormonal imbalances affect lots of people trying to conceive for reasons in and out of their control. You can support your hormones with lifestyle adjustments like eating a well balanced diet, regular exercise, managing sleep and stress, and limiting alcohol and smoking. Your uterus provides a safe space for a fertilised egg to implant and develop into a foetus. The fallopian tubes transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus where fertilisation can occur (the first step of pregnancy). For a natural pregnancy to occur, your reproductive environment (like your uterus and fallopian tubes) must be in good condition too. Those three factors—the quality and quantity of your eggs, your hormones, and your reproductive environment (uterus and fallopian tubes)—are what need to be in tip-top shape for a healthy pregnancy to occur. If one or more are out of sync, conception and pregnancy become more difficult. At What Age Does Fertility Decline? A woman’s fertility typically peaks during her 20s and early 30s. During this time, the likelihood of conception is higher and the risk of miscarriage is relatively low. One study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that miscarriage was lowest among women aged 25-29 at 10%. This rose rapidly after age 30, reaching 53% for women aged 45 and over. Female fertility starts to decline in the late 20s and more significantly after the age of 35. The quantity and quality of eggs diminish more rapidly, making it more challenging to conceive. As we age, especially from our mid-30s, the decline in the ovarian reserve both in terms of quality and quantity happens very rapidly and the odds for conception and pregnancy become harder. Menopause marks the end of your reproductive years, usually occurring between ages 45-55. During menopause—an inevitable part of ageing—your ovaries stop working, your hormones gradually decline, your menstrual cycle ends and you can no longer get pregnant naturally. A woman stops being fertile at menopause (when she’s not had a period for 12 months), however, fertility declines gradually with age, and after age 35, it becomes much more difficult to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. However, it is important to note that this decline is unique to each person. How Age Affects Fertility in Women Our bodies are incredible, but unfortunately, as we age, there’s a time limit on our fertility. Wondering how fertility decreases with age? For most, in your 20s and 30s, your reproductive health is in full swing and your eggs are super healthy. As you age, your eggs do too, which means there’s less available, and the ones there aren’t necessarily the best quality. Your ovarian reserve can be estimated with an Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) test, but it won’t tell you the quality of your eggs, only the number you have left. Good-quality eggs are associated with better rates of fertilisation, improved embryo quality, and a higher chance of successful implantation (when the fertilised egg attaches to the womb lining to develop into a foetus, then a baby). Infertility issues, frequent miscarriages and in rare cases, genetic disorders like Down syndrome, can be down to poor egg quality. As we age, our hormones change too. Your fertility hormone heroes, oestrogen and progesterone, can fluctuate and gradually decline over time, with the most significant dip at menopause. Reproductive health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which can make your periods and ovulation unpredictable, thereby making getting pregnant difficult, is also the result of a hormone imbalance, especially androgens like testosterone. Plus, as you age, you might experience health issues. Medical diagnoses, chronic health conditions, and autoimmune disorders can crop up as you get older. These can all prevent your hormones and the reproductive environment from working as they should. Fertility Milestones by Age Group You are most fertile in your 20s. Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly […]
12 Reproductive Health Awareness Days for Your Organisations Event Calendar
Over the last five years in the UK alone, 1 in 5 employees undergoing fertility treatment left their jobs due to insufficient support from their employers—and a further 1 million women left their workplaces because of debilitating menopausal symptoms. These are just a couple of the stats that highlight the growing importance of workplace reproductive health benefits as an integral part of employee wellbeing. As the adage goes, knowledge is power and one of the best places to start is ensuring your employees have ample access to educational resources surrounding their reproductive health. Awareness days offer purposeful opportunities to provide employees with education and celebration over a range of important issues. This can in turn foster your organisation’s culture whilst making your employees feel seen and supported. This 2024, why not build some of the following key female reproductive health-focused awareness days into your internal events calendar? 2024 Calendar of Reproductive Health Awareness Days 1. International Women’s Day When: March 8th 2024 What: A globally recognised campaign that celebrates women’s achievements social, economic and political achievements whilst raising awareness for gender equality. 2. National Endometriosis Action Month When: March 2024 What: A globally recognised month of action for the 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth who suffer from the reproductive health condition endometriosis. 3. National Infertility Awareness Week When: April 21st – 27th 2024 What: A UK-focused awareness week highlighting the challenges, mental and physical, faced by those struggling with infertility. 4. Black Maternal Health Week When: April 11th – 17th 2024 What: A globally recognised week to amplify Black female voices and raise awareness for the historically higher maternal mortality rates in Black women. 5. Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week When: 29th – 5th May 2024 What: A global weeklong campaign dedicated to awareness around mental health struggles before, during and after pregnancy. 6. National Women’s Health Week When: May 12th – 15th 2024 What: A UK-focused weeklong campaign encouraging women and girls to make their health, physical and social wellbeing a priority. 7. Fibroids Awareness Month When: July 2024 What: A globally recognised month to raise awareness about uterine fibroids that affect around 2 in 3 women. 8. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month When: September 2024 What: A globally recognised month to support those who’ve been diagnosed with or indirectly affected by ovarian cancer. 9. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Month When: September 2024 What: A globally recognised month of action for the 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth who suffer from the reproductive health condition PCOS. 10. Menopause Awareness Month When: October 2024 What: A globally recognised awareness month focused on breaking the stigma surrounding menopause, including World Menopause Day on the 18th of October. 11. Baby Loss Awareness Week When: October 9th – 15th What: A UK-focused week-long event dedicated to supporting those who have suffered pregnancy or infant loss. 12. National Fertility Awareness Week When: October 30th – 5th November What: A UK-focused weeklong campaign initiated to raise awareness about fertility issues, treatments and reproductive health education. What next? Embedding reproductive health awareness into an organisation’s event calendar is an imperative step toward fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. The alarming statistics revealing the impact of insufficient support on employee retention underline the urgency of addressing these issues. By incorporating key awareness days and campaigns, such as International Women’s Day, National Endometriosis Action Month, and Menopause Awareness Month, employers can provide educational resources and celebrate the diverse aspects of female reproductive health. This not only promotes a sense of acknowledgement and support for employees but also contributes to a workplace environment that values the holistic well-being of its people. At Hertility, we’re shaping the future of the workplace by supporting companies to become Reproductively ResponsibleTM. One way that we do this is through a range of CPD-accredited educational workshops that focus on female fertility and reproductive health. Ultimately, our aim is to change attitudes around reproductive health, both for individuals and in the workplace, and to encourage everyone to be proactive by tracking their reproductive health. We’re calling this the Reproductive Revolution! If you’d like to take proactive steps in this direction in 2024, get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can Menopause Cause Depression?
More women and those assigned female-at-birth (AFAB) report higher rates of depression during menopause, but can menopause cause depression? Changes in your hormones during menopause can impact your mental health, as well as your physical health, but what’s the link and how do we beat it? Here, we explore menopause and depression, and how they influence one another. Plus, we discover the difference between depression and menopause, treatment options including lifestyle changes and medication, and how to support a loved one struggling. First, let’s understand more about menopause and mental health. Understanding Menopause and Mental Health Menopause is a natural part of ageing. It’s when your ovaries stop making the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It marks the end of your reproductive years—you can no longer become pregnant and your periods stop. Since your sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, affect so much of your bodily functions, and how you think and feel, the hormonal shift can cause emotional and psychological symptoms putting you at higher risk of developing mood disorders like depression. Unfortunately, the changes in mood and energy can be frustrating, affecting your relationships, work life and confidence. Potential psychological side effects of menopause can include: On top of this, having trouble sleeping during menopause is common, and lack of sleep can worsen other mental health symptoms. Can Menopause Cause Depression? Lots of women experience difficulties with depression and their mental health during menopause, but what’s the link? In multiple studies, it becomes evident that if you’re in perimenopause (the years your hormones take a dip and you start getting menopause symptoms), you’re more likely to experience depression. Such an enormous shift in hormones can be life-changing. Many women feel hopeless, out of control, anxious and overwhelmed. Studies found that more women in their menopausal years experience depression compared to pre-menopausal years. Additionally, women and those AFAB who have a personal or family history of depression are also more likely to experience a relapse during menopause. One study suggests that those who have had premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), or postpartum depression are also more likely to develop depression during menopause. So what’s the cause behind the correlation between the increased risk of depression during menopause? Simply put, hormones have a lot to answer for. Primarily, a dip in oestrogen can cause depression, along with other menopause symptoms. Oestrogen plays an important role in mood regulation. Without it, neurotransmitters serotonin (known as the “feel good” hormone) and norepinephrine can be affected leading to depressive symptoms and mental health difficulties. It’s important to note that depression during menopause is not a given. Not everyone going through menopause will experience depression. Symptoms vary for each individual. There are lots of treatment options to reduce and prevent menopausal depression. If you or someone you know is struggling with menopause and mental health difficulties seek professional help from a menopause specialist or mental health professional. Identifying Depression During Menopause Signs and symptoms of depression during menopause include: These symptoms are not just related to menopause, they can overlap with other menopause symptoms, and be different for everyone. The risk of developing depression seems to decrease in the 2-4 years after your last period. (Menopause is marked by a single point in time, when it’s been a year since your last period). If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or want more support with depression or menopause symptoms, contact a menopause specialist who can advise you. Factors Contributing to Depression in Menopause Depression during menopause can be influenced by several factors. A genetic or family history of depression could influence the probability of you experiencing depression. Your medical history can play a part too. Having at least one chronic health condition like cardiovascular disease or diabetes can also double the risk of experiencing depression during menopause. Studies say that potential biological risk factors for depression during menopause include vasomotor symptoms (VMS) like hot flashes and night sweats can increase the likelihood of depression. These symptoms can feel debilitating, and paired with tiredness, poor concentration and fatigue from the lack of sleep, can affect confidence and self-esteem often resulting in feelings of sadness and depression. Getting enough sleep is key to mood regulation. If your roles change because of physical health problems that come with menopause, which, for example, cause you to take early retirement, some studies suggest that the risk of developing depression increases by 88%. The Fawcett Society, in their report Menopause and the Workplace, found that 1 in 10 women leave their jobs because of menopause symptoms. Sadly, women and those AFAB aren’t getting the support they need at work. Hertility aims to change this by encouraging more employers to become Reproductively Responsible™. Seeking Help and Treatment Options Seeking help for menopause-related depression is key to overcoming it. There are lifestyle changes as well as medical treatments. Natural treatment options for menopausal depression include making lifestyle adjustments. Well-balanced, gut-healthy nutrition and regular physical exercise can improve your mood and reduce the risk of depression during menopause, along with helping to alleviate other menopause symptoms. Eating a Nutritious Diet Firstly, eating well and often is important. Eating protein with every meal, staying hydrated and fuelling your body will keep your energy and mood stable throughout the day. Fibre with each meal will help to keep you fuller for longer and aid your digestion. Read our piece on ways your diet can help manage menopause solutions. Experiments suggest that your gut has close links with and could play a crucial role in depression (the gut-brain axis). Eating 30 different fruits and vegetables, ideally as many different colours as possible, each week is recommended by nutrition experts to support your gut health. Probiotics like live yoghurt, tempeh and kimchi also keep your gut happy. Getting Regular Physical Exercise Incorporating regular physical exercise can help to reduce depression and anxiety during menopause. Exercise releases endorphins—the feel good hormone. It’s also thought that physical exercise has beneficial effects on mental health through distraction and boosting self-belief. Getting regular […]
How to Boost Fertility Naturally in Your 30s
Despite misconceptions, you can likely have a healthy pregnancy and baby in your 30s, but it’s worth bearing in mind that as you get older, it becomes more difficult to get pregnant and to keep the pregnancy. This is why many have to turn to fertility treatments to freeze their eggs and start IVF cycles in their 30s. When you’re trying to conceive (TTC) in your 30s, whether you’re using fertility treatments or trying to get pregnant naturally, every little helps. Your lifestyle choices, nutrition, menstrual cycle awareness and mental health can play a crucial role in your fertility journey in your 30s, and at any age. Lifestyle Changes to Boost Fertility Despite what we’ve been led to believe, your fertility is not something that’s left to chance and depends on luck only. While some aspects of fertility are out of our control, there are actions you can take to improve your chances of getting pregnant in your 30s, with and without fertility treatments. Lifestyle changes can help to optimise your fertility naturally. Choosing a well-balanced and nutritionally rich diet, doing regular physical exercise, managing your stress and getting enough sleep can all support your fertility. Physical Exercise To Boost Fertility Getting at least 150 minutes of physical exercise a week is important to help you manage your weight and boost overall health. Broken down, that’s 30-minute workouts, five days a week. 30-60 minutes of physical exercise per day was shown to reduce the risk of anovulatory infertility (infertility due to an ovulation disorder). Exercise not only balances your hormones, but it can boost your mood, help you manage stress and support your energy. However, be careful because, underweight, or doing vigorous physical exercise (more than 60 minutes a day) combined with eating a calorie deficit, can negatively impact your fertility since it usually has a knock-on effect on your hormones, which can lead to irregular periods and ovulation. Your menstrual cycle relies on a delicate hormone balance, and if your weight is too low or too high can throw them out of sync affecting your chance of conceiving. Stress Management Strategies For Fertility Stress can also throw off the balance of hormones causing irregular periods and ovulation. It might also affect your desire to get intimate / libido which is not ideal when you are TTC. Manage stress to boost fertility in your 30s by identifying coping strategies that work for you. You could try relaxation techniques like breathwork, yoga, meditation and mindfulness to help you relax. If you find that self help measures are not helping out, you can always consider seeking out professional help. The Connection Between Sleep and Fertility It’s recommended to get between 7-10 hours of sleep every night, depending on how much you need, since getting enough sleep is associated with better reproductive health. So, how does sleep affect our fertility? A lack of sleep can cause your circadian rhythm (responsible for your sleep-wake cycle) to become dysregulated, and this can affect your hormones, and in turn your menstrual cycle, and fertility. One study revealed that in a survey of nurses of reproductive age, 53% reported menstrual cycle changes while engaging in shift work. Your hormones being balanced is key to your fertility. To get a healthy sleep routine, try switching all screens off two hours before bedtime, and have a wind-down routine which could include a hot bath, calming tea, stretching or bedtime yoga. Try to stick to a schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, so your sleep-wake cycle is regulated. It’s usually easier to fall asleep when it’s quiet, dark and cool, but test different sleep environments to see which works best for you. Morning sunlight is proven to improve your ability to sleep too. Exposure to sunlight in the first hour of waking for 10-30 minutes a day, and in the afternoon as the sun is setting, will help to regulate your body’s inner sleep-wake cycle clock. Getting more physical exercise and having a well-balanced diet will also support your mood and energy levels which will make managing stress and getting enough sleep easier. Medical Considerations and Check-ups Boosting fertility naturally in your 30s begins with a proactive understanding of your reproductive health. Regular medical check-ups, including a hormone and fertility test, are crucial in providing timely insights and addressing potential hurdles to pregnancy. Lots of healthcare providers recommend only visiting a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year without success, but you don’t need to wait that long. While some couples have no trouble conceiving, 1 in 6 couples face fertility struggles, and knowing your body from the inside means you can seek support and advice faster with all the facts if you need it. When it comes to getting pregnant in your 30s, timing is everything. By taking charge of your reproductive health through regular check-ups and fertility screenings, you equip yourself with the knowledge needed to optimise your chances of a successful pregnancy. Start today, embrace a proactive approach, and navigate your fertility journey with confidence. Nutritional Supplements and Diet The right nutrition can help to support fertility by balancing your hormones, improving your egg quality and supporting a healthy reproductive environment for fertilised eggs, foetus and baby to thrive. While there are no specific guidelines for the best fertility diet, there are foods that can boost your fertility. Mediterranean Diet A Mediterranean diet—rich in whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado—can boost fertility. Consider a fertility meal plan and use a fertility nutrition shopping list to make life easier. That’s one less thing to think about! The abundance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains makes the Mediterranean diet rich in antioxidants, which have been shown to protect eggs from DNA damage and oxidative stress and support implantation and pregnancy. Healthy Eating Tips To Boost Fertility In Your 30s Some healthy eating tips if you’re […]
What are the Five Main Factors that Affect Fertility in Women?
Embarking on your fertility journey can be both exciting and challenging. Understanding the various lifestyle factors that can affect fertility is crucial for individuals and couples. In this article, we’ll delve into the five main lifestyle factors that play a pivotal role in fertility, and how you can shape and optimise your lifestyle to support your reproductive health. First, let’s explore what fertility is from a biological perspective. Ovulation plays a critical role, marking the release of an egg from the ovary. For a pregnancy to occur, a healthy egg must meet healthy sperm (usually in the fallopian tube) where the egg gets fertilised. Plus, the uterus (womb) must be in optimal condition so the fertilised egg can implant and grow into a healthy baby. To get pregnant and have a baby, many biological factors come into play. When one or more of these factors fall out of sync, that’s when you might face difficulties with fertility. Lots of couples conceive without any issues, but it’s important to know the facts. 1 in 6 couples face fertility struggles, so if it’s taking longer than you’d hoped, know that you’re not alone. The earlier you know what’s going on inside, the earlier you can take action to support your future fertility goals. Age and Fertility Unfortunately, the ticking of the biological clock is a reality that every woman and those assigned female-at-birth (AFAB) face. For a pregnancy to occur, you need healthy eggs. From a biological standpoint, the younger you are, the healthier your eggs will be. As you age, the quality and quantity of your eggs (known as your ovarian reserve) decline. While an Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) test can help you to understand how many eggs you have left, it can’t tell us the quality of the eggs we have. Women and those AFAB are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have. Each menstrual cycle, you lose an egg, and once you hit your late thirties, that number has decreased dramatically, and it brings with it a host of hormonal changes. Collectively, it reduces your ability to become, and often stay, pregnant. And it’s not just about your egg count either. After the age of 35, there’s a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications and negative health outcomes for the baby. There’s also a higher risk of miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Plus, chromosomal conditions like Down’s syndrome are more common. It’s not just a woman’s problem either. Despite misconceptions, ageing affects male fertility too. From age 40 onwards, the sperm quality and sperm function decreases with significant implications to pregnancies and births including increased time to conception and increased risk of miscarriage. Lifestyle Choices and Their Impact Think your fertility is out of your control? Think again. While there are aspects of fertility that are beyond our control, there’s a lot we can do to support our reproductive health. Through lifestyle choices, we can impact the quality of our eggs and contribute to a healthier reproductive environment. Eating a well-balanced, nutritionally rich diet, getting regular physical exercise, managing stress, getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine to less than 200mg a day (one small cup of coffee), and stopping or reducing smoking and excess alcohol can contribute to improving your fertility. This is because your lifestyle choices directly impact your hormones, and hormonal balance (involved in regulating your menstrual cycle) is crucial to a successful conception, pregnancy and healthy baby. Eat a Fertility-Friendly Diet Being underweight or overweight can affect your ability to conceive because your hormones are often out of whack. Eating a Mediterranean diet—one that’s based on plant foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains with a moderate amount of dairy, fish, meat and eggs—can support your fertility. Discover a fertility-friendly meal plan, and fertility nutrition shopping list to support your healthy diet. Plus, when you’re trying for a baby and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, taking prenatal supplements like folic acid can help prevent major birth defects by supporting neural tube development. Get Regular Physical Exercise Getting regular physical exercise is healthy no matter where you are in your fertility journey, but be wary of overexercise. Too much vigorous physical activity can stop ovulation, cause irregular periods or for them to stop altogether amenorrhea because of hormonal imbalances in important hormones that control your menstrual cycle. An absent period is often a sign that something’s not quite right, so it’s worth speaking with a healthcare professional if you’re worried. Limit Smoking and Alcohol Smoking, alcohol and recreational drug use are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and complications during conception and pregnancy. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can disrupt your hormones and impact your fertility. It’s also been linked with early onset menopause. There’s limited evidence to know how vaping affects fertility (although early studies suggest it could affect the ability to implant and result in lower birth weights) but if you’re trying to get pregnant, not vaping is safer than vaping. The lack of information doesn’t mean it’s safe, but by stopping, you’re being exposed to fewer chemicals. Get help to quit smoking in the UK with the NHS. Excess alcohol consumption is not only associated with hormone imbalances, there is no safe level of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy as it can lead to adverse health effects for the baby. In women and those assigned-female-at-birth, disrupting your hormones can affect your menstrual cycle causing irregular periods which can affect ovulation, reducing your chances of conceiving. As well as its impact on our hormones, alcohol negatively impacts our general health which can lead to knock-on impacts on our fertility making it harder to become and stay pregnant, as well as increasing the risk of foetal conditions and birth complications. Protect Against STIs Left untreated sexually transmitted infections can lead to fertility issues because they can lead to scarred or blocked Fallopian tubes, which can increase your risk of an ectopic pregnancy. The only way to protect yourself […]
What age should you freeze your eggs?
According to the HFEA (Human Fertilisation & Embryo Authority), egg freezing and embryo storage cycles are the fastest-growing fertility treatments in the UK. More women than ever are turning to egg freezing / assisted reproductive technologies to help them navigate their future fertility when our biological clocks and personal timelines are out of sync. Having children later in life is becoming the norm. The Office of National Statics found that for the first time ever, more women are turning 30 without children. Between biological “body clocks”, careers, relationships, medical history, genetic conditions, family expectations and more, fertility planning is tricky business. The ticking of the biological body clock feels like a ticking time bomb—one that women and those assigned-female-at-birth (AFAB) are acutely made aware of. When you start to plan for future children, there are naturally a lot of questions. So when should you consider freezing your eggs? In this article, we’ll delve into the world of egg freezing—the process itself, why it’s popular, the right age to do it, age limits and the alternative options for your fertility journey. We’ll provide you with clear, evidence-based insights to empower your decisions in navigating the challenges of fertility planning.
The Ultimate Guide to Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrition
Having a healthy diet and active lifestyle is vital for good health, however, there is never a more important time to optimise your nutritional health than whilst you are trying to conceive and whilst pregnant. During both stages of TTC (trying to conceive) and pregnancy, there are many questions asked in regard to pregnancy nutrition. Some questions you may have might include ‘Which foods increase fertility?’, ‘What are the best foods for pregnancy?’, ‘What nutrients are needed for pregnancy?’. Well, if so you have landed in the right place. We will dive deep into pregnancy and fertility nutrition, to help you understand what or what not to eat during this time, for optimal health for you and most importantly, your baby-to-be.
Coming Off The Pill: Possible Side Effects & Tips to Manage Them
While coming off the pill may have some side effects, both positive and challenging, most side effects are manageable, and fertility typically returns to normal within a few months. In this ultimate guide, we’ll look at the potential side effects, symptoms and shifts you might experience when you come off the pill. Armed with practical tips, we’ll help you to manage the transition and not just survive, but thrive, supporting your reproductive and overall health along the way. Common Side Effects of Coming Off The Pill The experience of coming off the pill is unique to each individual. Yet, research indicates that side effects and symptoms such as mood swings, acne, and irregular menstrual cycles are common. Knowing how to manage them can make your life easier. Physical Symptoms and How to Manage Them Stopping the pill may bring physical side effects including changes in your menstrual cycle, skin issues and weight fluctuations. Menstrual cycle changes Hormonal fluctuations can cause your menstrual cycle to change. While on the pill, your body receives a steady and specific dose of synthetic oestrogen and progestogen to prevent pregnancy, but your body also has its own natural hormonal dance working around the clock. When you stop taking the pill, the synthetic hormones gradually leave your system, allowing your natural hormones to kick in and work their magic. But since your body hasn’t needed them recently, it can take a while for them to find their rhythm. It takes some time for your natural hormones to balance and your menstrual cycle to regulate. A key sign of hormonal balance is a regular menstrual cycle. After coming off the pill, most people have their first natural period within 2-3 months. If you’re testing your hormones after coming off the pill, we recommend waiting 3 months. You may observe changes in vaginal discharge, which is normal and can vary in consistency and colour throughout your menstrual cycle. If your menstrual cycle doesn’t become regular after three months, reach out to our in-house fertility experts for guidance. They can provide insights, conduct hormone and fertility tests, and offer personalised advice on everything from menstruation to motherhood and menopause. After coming off the pill, you might experience your menstrual cycle differently too. It’s common for your periods to be heavier or to get more painful cramps. If you started the pill to manage painful or heavy periods, they can unfortunately return. Around 40% of women experience ovulation pain, in the form of twinges, cramps, or sharp pains in the lower abdomen, typically in the middle of the cycle. If you were on the pill, you might not have felt this ovulation pain (mittelschmerz) before. It usually lasts a short time and is nothing to worry about. To be informed and have a better understanding of your reproductive health, track your menstrual cycle and symptoms after stopping the pill. This data will empower you and support your reproductive health going forward. Skin problems Some birth control pills have an anti-androgenic effect, meaning they lower testosterone levels in your body, which can impact acne. If you are taking a birth control pill with this effect, you might find that you break out once you come off it. This is often temporary. If acne is affecting your confidence and daily life, consult a healthcare professional for advice. You could also switch up your skincare routine or speak with a dermatologist. Unwanted hair growth You may have started the pill because of unwanted or excessive hair growth. Unfortunately, when you come off the pill, the hair may return. Although there are several reasons it can occur, unwanted hair growth is a common symptom of PCOS, and if you’re concerned, it’s a good idea to talk to a Fertility Advisor. Weight fluctuations People’s responses to the combined pill vary. Some report weight gain, while others report weight loss. These changes may be due to increased appetite and the oestrogen content in the pill causing fluid retention. Your weight can impact your reproductive and overall health. If you need support, consult with a fertility nutritionist who can guide you on diet, exercise, and lifestyle adjustments tailored to your needs. Sex drive When you come off the pill, you might find your sex drive (libido) increases and you’re up for sex more often. This is because of a boost in testosterone during ovulation. Time to get physical! Headaches Some take the pill to control headaches because the oestrogen in it can help. When you stop the pill, headaches may come back. Use pain relief, and if they significantly affect your daily life, consult a healthcare professional. Emotional and Psychological Effects Your hormones have a lot to answer for, and coming off the pill can cause emotional and psychological effects that impact your daily life. Mood changes Usually, PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoria disorder), and mood swings intensify when you stop the pill, while rates of depression seem to ease. PMS and PMDD symptoms vary, but they often include anxiety, low self-esteem, mood swings, tiredness, irritability, fatigue, sluggishness, sleep issues, breast tenderness, cravings, a lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, feeling tense, overwhelmed, and even having suicidal thoughts. This typically occurs in the second half of your cycle—the luteal phase—before your period and after ovulation. This is the time to be kind to yourself, and understand that you are not your thoughts, and they will pass. Tracking your menstrual cycle so you know when you might experience PMS can help to support you. When PMS hits, try steering clear of things that could ramp up your anxiety. Maybe skip bustling events and opt for easy dinners (hello, freezer leftovers!) when you’re not up for cooking. Combat feelings of sadness or hopelessness with coping strategies that suit you. Think self-care like journaling, meditation, dancing, yoga, baths, or just some quiet time. Spruce up your surroundings for a more relaxed vibe. Soft blankets, candles, mellow lighting, and soothing music can make you feel more zen. […]