New Year’s resolution: Addressing your fertility
Building a family can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling life endeavors. Whether you’re in a committed relationship and ready to start the next chapter of your life, or you’re single but envision a family in your future, it’s important to understand your body and conception journey. The path to pregnancy isn’t always seamless or picturesque as you might think, but the best thing you can do is be prepared. The new year is a great time to learn more about your overall health and align your personal goals for the future.
There are a lot of variables that go into ensuring a healthy pregnancy. That’s why Northwell Health Fertility reproductive endocrinologists recommend staying proactive about family planning to secure the very best outcome for you and your partner. For women under age 35 who have not yet decided on their future path, we recommend a preliminary consultation to assess your fertility. This evaluation will open the door to discussions about your ovarian reserve, underlying conditions that could influence your chances of getting pregnant and procedures that could secure your ideal plans for the future.
Considering your age
The family planning process is different for everyone. It can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t met that special someone and you’re not quite ready to settle down. Age is the No. 1 factor that affects fertility. Your ovarian reserve—the capacity of your ovaries to produce fertile eggs—starts to shift and change as you get older. As time goes on, your reserve contains fewer eggs, which are more likely to develop genetic abnormalities. Taking these factors into consideration, it’s particularly important for women in their early- to mid-30s to discuss options with their doctors to ensure a healthy birth in the future.
Understanding conditions or imbalances that influence fertility
An integral first step in the process is recognizing and understanding conditions that can influence the likelihood of conceiving. For instance, hormonal imbalance plays a significant role in your fertility journey. Irregularities and variances in your hormones can hinder your chances of conceiving in the short term and later in life, if left unaddressed.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal imbalances that affects fertility. It’s tricky to diagnose, as not all women with PCOS experience the same textbook symptoms of unwanted hair growth, acne and irregular periods. Other conditions that can cause infertility include endometriosis, which occurs when tissue that typically grows within the uterus forms outside of the uterus, or issues with the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)—the hormones responsible for stimulating ovulation. Discussing any potential abnormalities with your doctor will not only help to alleviate symptoms, but will also protect your health and fertility in the long run.
Being proactive about protecting your fertility
Whether addressing existing conditions or simply taking proactive steps to eliminate uncertainty, there are several paths to ensuring a future pregnancy. Start by scheduling a consultation with a fertility specialist who will evaluate your overall reproductive health. Your reproductive endocrinologist will test your hormone levels and your ovarian reserve through a simple blood test, or a FSH test, which gives them an idea of how many fertile eggs you currently have.
Based on this analysis, you can work with your doctor to understand your options, including but not limited to, egg freezing. Our experts at Northwell recommend freezing your eggs earlier in life to ensure you don’t run into obstacles when you’re trying to conceive later down the line. Empowering women who are in their late 20s, and especially those in their mid-30s, to consider this quick procedure will allow them to feel in control of an important life passage. If you are in your mid-to-late 30s and have a diminished ovarian reserve, embryo banking is another effective tool for fertility preservation. This involves several in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments and freezing all viable embryos for future use.
No matter where you are in life, it’s never too early to understand and address your chances of a healthy, successful pregnancy. As you move into the new year and begin assessing goals, keep in mind that being proactive about your reproductive health will help you learn more about the way your body works, any abnormalities in its function and the procedures that can solidify your hopes for the future.