How Young People Can Protect Their Fertility
Posted on August 26th, 2021
There is a great deal of conversation around fertility and age, which often includes reference to a metaphorical clock that’s ticking away – picking up speed until it’s suddenly too late to have a child. This is a very dated and unhelpful view of fertility, and it can do more harm than good if people feel pressured on their reproductive path instead of encouraged to learn more about their options.
At Aspire Fertility, we want to change the way young people think about fertility and offer some insight that may help protect future family planning goals.
Yes, age does affect fertility, but there are ways to plan ahead.
Culturally, we treat women’s fertility as something akin to sand slipping through an hourglass. It is true that a woman is born with all of the eggs she will have over the course of her life and that egg quality peaks around the age of 25. Egg quality and quantity diminish over time, and this decline tends to pick up at age 35. But the benefit of modern reproductive technology is that now, more than ever, both women and men have choices about how to plan for when they might want to become parents.
Services like fertility preservation (egg freezing/sperm freezing) offer young women and men some breathing room. These options may prove particularly helpful for those who work in a career where fertility is at risk (the military, for example); participate in activities where fertility is at risk (extreme sports); or are facing a medical diagnosis where reproductive health could be damaged by treatment/surgery (such as cancer).
Sexual health and fertility can be directly linked.
Undiagnosed/untreated sexually transmitted illness can lead to fertility issues in both men and women, which is why your sexual health needs to be protected during every sexual encounter. While many STIs can be treated – even cured, in some cases – there is no reason to risk the impact they can have on your life, including whether you are able to have children.
Underlying conditions can impact fertility.
There is a youthful mentality that visiting the doctor can wait – the symptoms aren’t that bad, whatever it is will go away on its own, etc. The truth is, there are a number of underlying health conditions that can impact a person’s fertility. Generally, health issues such as poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, and illegal drug use have all been shown to lower sperm counts and decrease egg quality.
Some historically underdiagnosed conditions for women in the U.S. include endometriosis and PCOS, the former shown to be connected to infertility issues and the latter shown to be connected to miscarriage and birthing issues.
From preservation to prevention, there are many ways to think about family building without feeling the pressure of the clock. If you’re interested in learning more, read about the fertility preservation options at Aspire.