For women who are not yet ready to build a family, thinking about and taking care of your fertility are probably not top priority. When you’re in your 20’s and early 30’s, it’s easy to assume that when you want to get pregnant, you’ll be able to do so without issue.

In fact, many women spend this time in their lives actively preventing conception by using birth control like the pill and other contraception to ensure they will not have a child until they are ready. So it may be surprising to learn that 1 in 8 couples struggle to conceive in the United States.

Infertility may be caused by the female partner or the male partner – or it may occur for unknown reasons. You may struggle to conceive because of a medical condition such as endometriosis, which can affect fertility, or perhaps because of your age. For example, women who are 35 and older are often advised to seek the advice of a fertility specialist if they have not conceived after 6 months of trying, whereas women under 35 are advised to visit a fertility specialist only if they have not conceived over one year of trying. This is because your fertility is related to the quality and quantity of your eggs, which decrease as you age, and even more rapidly after age 35. Women treated for cancer at a younger age are often in need of fertility care or third-party reproduction services like an egg donor or surrogate due to the effects of radiation and chemotherapy on fertility.

If you are in your 20’s and early 30’s, there are steps you can take to ensure your fertility will be as ideal as possible when you are ready to have a baby.

  • Take care of your sexual health: Did you know that certain STDs can lead to fertility issues? If left untreated, STDs can make it difficult to conceive and maintain a healthy pregnancy. PGOMG recommends regular STD testing.
  • Watch out for bad habits: Heavy alcohol consumption and smoking have each been known to cause fertility issues in women and men. Obesity is another factor that can make it difficult to conceive, so it’s important to maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  • Start tracking: Do you track your menstrual cycle? It’s easy to track your period when you’re on birth control. However, if you’re not on birth control, you’ll need to track your cycle more actively each month. This will help you learn how long your period is, how heavy your flow is, what PMS symptoms you experience most often and if you are irregular. Everyone’s menstrual cycle is different – some are shorter, and some are longer. You can discuss whether or not your period is irregular with your PGOMG provider. In some cases, menstrual irregularity itself can be indicative of a fertility issue.