5 subtle signs you might not be as fertile as you think you are
For the majority of us, our fertility isn't something we think too much about until we actually get down to business of trying to make a baby.
And the irony! You have spent your adult life so far trying not to get pregnant, only to find when you are actually trying, it might not happen as easily as you think it will.
Understanding our fertility is important, mostly because it really is not all black and white, but rather something that changes over time and follows your overall health and mental wellbeing closely too.
A good place to start looking is your body and your menstrual cycle. Keeping notes of your menstrual cycle is always advised, as it makes it easier to mention to your GP if you notice something changing.
What else can you do to make sure you pay attention to your overall health – including your fertility? Here are some good places to start:
1. You don't sleep enough
While you might feel like you totally get by on six hours a night, studies have associated getting less than seven to eight hours sleep a night with depressed leptin levels. This becomes a problem when we learn that leptin is involved in regulating the menstrual cycle.
As well as this, disturbances in leptin concentrations have been linked to poor egg quality.
What this mean, of course, it that making sure you get enough sleep is an important investment in your future fertility. And relax, a late night here and there makes no difference at all, what these studies are looking at, is what long-term lack of sleep means for your health.
2. You're very skinny
While being overweight has proven to harm your fertility, being too skinny is not entirely great either.
In fact, a healthy amount of body fat is essential for proper hormone function, and research has shown that women with a BMI less than 18.5 took longer to conceive than women with a higher BMI (19 to 24.5 BMI).
3. You celebrate "wine o'clock" a little too frequently
We all love our relaxing glass of vino at night, but remember that a daily consumption of alcohol can significantly affect your ability to conceive. In fact, alcohol can have various effects on fertility including increased time to pregnancy and decreased probability of conception (by more than 50 percent).
Worryingly, a large-scale Swedish study found that women who consumed more than two alcoholic drinks per day were on average 60 percent more likely to be infertile than those who did not.
Like with most things, alcohol is better enjoyed in moderation, it seems.
4. You suffer from PMS and menstrual cramps
PMS, pain, cramping, and clotting can (not always, but in some cases) be more than just a total pain (pun intended) every month.
Sometimes these symptoms also correlate with more serious issues like polyps, fibroids, endometriosis, or hormonal imbalances. If you think something is up, or notice a chance in your cycle, you are always better off discussing it with your GP, who can perform a variety of tests to determine what could be the cause of your monthly problems.
5. You have a very light bleeding
While you might count your blessings for having a short, light period, the truth is that in some cases, this can mean less great things when it comes to trying to conceiving.
According to experts, healthy menstrual bleeding averaging around five days is a reflection of a healthy uterine lining, the problem being that a uterine lining that is too thin means that embryo implantation can get a little trickier.
It is important to note that as with everything to do with your health and your body, nobody knows how you work better than you. When it comes to periods, for instance, it is hard to determine a normal, as this can vary greatly from woman to woman. But if you get a gut feeling something is up, or feel like things have changed in that department, it is never a bad idea to discuss things with your heath provider – even just to put your mind at ease.
Periods and our monthly cycle can also change naturally as we age, but making sure you make healthy choices with both diet and lifestyle is the best thing you can do in future-proofing your fertility and overall health.