One of my biggest concerns around fertility discussions is that we are not giving young people the information they need to make choices for fertility longevity.
I know . . . how many young people want to think about fertility? Especially when the emphasis is usually something along the lines of – “Whatever you do, don’t get pregnant”.
That is certainly a powerful message, right! One that gets repeated, over and over. But I think we can handle a more helpful conversation.
For young people today, the nutritional, lifestyle and contraceptive choices they make can impact their fertility later in life. And since many people are choosing to have children later rather than sooner- let’s take a look at how to put some fertility longevity in place.
In a recent study looking at the impact of diet on fertility the authors concluded that:
“It may be prudent to integrate nutrition counseling into both clinical guidelines for infertility as well as national dietary guidelines for individuals of reproductive age.”[i]This is because nutrition plays a huge role in our reproductive health. They found that “diets high in unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables, and fish have been associated with improved fertility in both women and men.”
If you are looking to make hormone health a priority with your long term-eating habits then incorporate these 5 tips: This sort of healthy eating can help balance developing hormone systems and prevent many types of disease.
Fertility Nourishment Basics:
** Eat good quality protein. If you do meat in small quantities, make sure it is hormone free and not fed on GMO’s, choose things like wild game, small deep sea fish from clean waters, organic legumes soaked and home cooked—not from cans which can often be coated in plastic. Avoid soy as a main source of protein even if organic as it can impact hormone balance. Likewise, conventional dairy has a high estrogen load so is also best avoided in large quantities.
** Eat real unprocessed food like whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables & fruit in season.
** Increase your good fats intake. Good fats are building blocks for your eggs and sperm and essential for proper cellular function. Things like olive oil, cold pressed seed and nut oils, coconut oil, ghee and organic grass-fed butter (which has the correct omega 3-6-9 balance)
** The only fats that do not become unstable when heated are coconut oil and ghee.
** Eat nutrient dense foods, like bone or vegetable broths, fermented foods and super foods.
Food allergies and intolerances create an over active immune system which is more likely to attack itself and others (like sperm). So eating a simple less processed diet, which can be fulfilling and delicious will give the body a break and allow it to become truly nourished.
One of my favorite definition’s of trauma is something that happens too fast, too soon, or too young. I think in today’s world many young people are exposed to events that can be challenging to process because of these very reasons. Our bodies, minds and hearts need time to slow down and integrate life. Over work, over play, over exercise can deplete our internal resources over time, especially if we are not taking the time needed to rest and replenish. Making the choice to consciously slow down a little, practice, meditation, play and generally find the joy in the moment are all great skills not just for fertility longevity but for wellness longevity.
We live in a time where we have lots of options for contraception. There are non-medical choices like fertility awareness which I highly recommend for anyone with a womb/cycle. This method involves learning your body’s fertility signs like body temperature, cervical fluid and cervix position and charting these through the month to give you information about when you ovulate. This information is great for pregnancy prevention as well as conception. I am a huge fan of fertility awareness and have been charting my cycle for over a decade. However, it may not be the best choice for someone young, with irregular cycles or with an inconsistent schedule. You can combine fertility awareness with other methods though and it is the best way to really get to know your body.
There are lots of choices for pharmaceutical contraception for people with wombs/cycles. These pills over-ride your body’s cycle usually by either making your body think it is pregnant or making your body think it is menopause. Any bleeding you have while taking oral contraception is a break through bleed and not a real period. There can also be many side effects to hormonal contraception whether in pill, IUD or implant. In my opinion, birth control can be a helpful short-term solution but should not replace fertility awareness nor should it be a taken for years upon years. They are also very depleting on your body so eating well with lots of greens, a b vitamin supplement and zinc supplement are good choices to help your body stay balanced. Always check with your care provider before starting or stopping any medications.
There are also herbal options like Queen Anne’s Lace but these need to be taken under the guidance of a qualified herbalist.
Finally the truth is none of these methods actually protect against STD’s so the reality is for people who want to both prevent pregnancy and STD’s then the good ol’ inexpensive and easy to get, non medical condom is your best bet every time.
Check out these links for info on fertility awareness & birth control.