There are only a few things that I remember wanting since I was a little girl and that even today, despite the years that have gone by, my desire for them remains the same. Being a mother, is one of them.
My mother tells me that when I turned one, someone gifted me a doll. As soon as I opened the box, I said the word “baby” and proceeded to kiss and rock the baby in my arms. I may have done this out of instinct or, out of repeating what I have seen my mother do to me, I don’t really know, but what I do know, is that the desire of motherhood feels strong and very natural to me.
Until I was told that I had unexplained infertility, I never really thought about the potential of assisted fertility and other options to motherhood. I realized that just like no one gets prepared to parenthood, no one gets prepared for infertility either. This is probably why I found it so difficult to navigate through the infertility journey, and it is also the reason that compelled me to share information with you.
This information is simply intended to help you be informed. It is information that I have learned through my experience and that I find it can be helpful to others.
#1 A woman is born with all her eggs: This is something I never knew about fertility. Every woman is born with all the eggs that she is to have in a life-time. Contrary to what many believe, a woman does not grow new eggs every month. Whatever amount of eggs she has at birth, that is all the eggs she is ever going to have. Now, why would this be important information, you may ask? Well, this is the proof that the “biological clock” is a real response that the women’s body have to the fact that their egg reserve may be coming close to “empty” or low. When a women begins menstruating for the first time she has already lost thousands of eggs a month in the pre-puberty years, this phenomenon continues through her life until she is no longer fertile. Most women stop being fertile in their 40’s and go through menopause in their 50’s. The egg reserve therefore, starts getting low in the 30’s but for some women it can be before that. If you see any stats on women’s fertility you will see how drastic the change is from early 20’s to mid 30’s. As the eggs reserve is getting lower, so is the quality of the eggs left.
Having less eggs also means that their quality is now lower, which decreases natural conception and increases miscarriage and genetic problems. We will never truly know how many eggs we were born with, but we can find out the status of our current egg reserve by doing a Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) blood work and, a follicle count ultrasound. Any doctor can prescribe you an AMH blood test. If you are curious to find out what your egg reserve is, by all means do not hesitate to request one.
#2 The Age Factor: As explained in the point above, age does play a factor in women’s fertility. However, age is NOT the only issue related to a women’s fertility and often, young women get dismissed when they report being concerned about their fertility. I personally recall having some questions about my fertility as I was curious to see if a health condition I had as a child would have had an impact in my ability to carry a child. The gynaecologist who saw me at the time, noting that I was only 25 years old, said that there was no point on doing any testing now since I was young and not interested in getting pregnant and suggested I did all the testing 5 years later when I was in fact considering a pregnancy. At the time, her explanation made sense to me so I agreed with her. Today, I wish the doctor had not assumed that my fertility was like the one of a regular 25 year old. As I am finding out now, my egg reserve is lower than the average woman my age, and that was likely the case at 25. I know it is hard to tell what difference would have made having this information earlier, but by not having it, I definitely did not make choices influenced by that reality of my body. So, if intuitively you suspect that you may have some issues related to your fertility, please do not assume that because you are young, there is no merit in looking into further investigation as age is not the only fertility factor.
#3 Many feminine and beauty products kill fertility: It wasn’t until I had been trying to conceive for several years and after a failed IUI and a failed IVF that I decided to look into my environment as a potential cause to infertility. Luckily, I came across a wonderful book called “It starts with the egg” by Rebeca Fett. This book opened my eyes to information that every woman should have. In the book, I was made aware of in-depth details of how toxic products like BPA and Phthalates impact women’s fertility. The author specifically mentions how women tend to have higher levels of toxins than men in their bodies due to their skin and make-up products! These toxic substances are known to not only interfere with the quality of a woman’s egg but to also impact the egg’s ability to develop into healthy embryos.
If you are trying to conceive, whether it is naturally or through IVF, note that it takes about 3 months for eggs to mature. Therefore, it is very important that you begin to reduce your exposure to toxic substances at least three months before you begin trying. This will simply increase your chances of conceiving and keeping the pregnancy. Reading the labels of products can be exhausting and the truth is, there are so many tricky things corporations can do to get away with not listing all of their ingredients. However, it is still our duty as consumers to do the research and buy only what we think is in our best interest. As a general rule, look for labels that don’t contain: phthalates, DEP, BPA, perfume or, fragrance. If you want to see my recommendation for safe products read my blog post on “6 Healthy beauty recommendations”
#4 Diet matters: The saying “we are what we eat” becomes very relevant when you are trying to conceive. Absolutely everything that is happening in the functioning of your body is impacted by the fuel your body has. In order to create and host life, it is very important that your body is not in a state of inflammation, irritation, depletion or starvation. Take a look at your current diet. Are you eating foods that make your body stronger or weaker? Are you nurturing the body with the foods that are easily digested by your body? Are you feeling energized and light? For me, it was imperative and a very important part of my journey to see a nutritionist. I was able to have a food sensitivity test, which allow me to know with precision what foods were making my body stronger and which ones did not. I did a good cleanse by eliminating, sugar, alcohol, dairy, soy, gluten and other inflammatory foods. Not only did I loose some of the extra weight I had gained with the hormones of IVF, but also, I noticed my digestion improved, my eczema disappeared, my egg quality improved and my mind was more clear. If you want to follow only one recommendation out of this blog post, I suggest you make this one your priority. Do not follow what the masses are doing on diets, and what you have read is good for most people. Take the time to find out specifically about your body and what works best for you. But as a general rule for fertility safe diet do avoid: sugar, alcohol, soy, gluten and processed foods.
#5 Celiac can impact fertility: I am thankful that through my infertility journey I found out that I was celiac. Right after my diagnosis of celiac, the fertility doctor told me that there was a big co-relation between unexplained infertility and undiagnosed celiac disease. I had read this information in many fertility books but because I did not know I was celiac, I never really paid attention to this as a possible reason for my infertility. If you have noticed that eating breads, pastas and other sources of carbs that contain wheat make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, I suggest that you rule out celiac by asking your doctor to test you. I may seem like a big task to go through such a test (usually endoscopy and biopsy) but, this could be the answer to many health concerns you may currently have, and knowing this could save you many headaches related to unexplained infertility.
I truly hope you find this information valuable and interesting. I also wish you a healthy and easy time trying to conceive.