Fremont Area Medical Center

SUM 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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so those remaining 1,000 are probably not very healthy, which will reduce the chances of them being viable." Unfortunately, even a healthy, active woman is not immune to the biological component of declining fertility. "A 35-year-old woman may look amazing and be very active and healthy; she certainly doesn't think of herself as an 'older' mother," says Dr. Van Voorhis. "But biologically, she is [an older mother]." LIFESTYLE DECISIONS Women do have some control over their fertility when it comes to how they lead their lives, say experts. "A healthy lifestyle can prevent premature ovarian failure, which leads to early menopause," says Dr. Vladimir Nikiforouk, an OB/GYN at Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg, Pa. Growing up in Russia under communism, says Dr. Nikiforouk, gave him firsthand experience with a lifestyle that included smoking, drinking, stress and overwork. "Women with an unhealthy lifestyle tend to go through menopause five years earlier than their genetics would otherwise dictate," says Dr. Nikiforouk. "So it's not so much that you can prolong your fertility via a healthy lifestyle, but you may prevent early menopause." Avoiding unprotected sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases that damage fertility, and maintaining a healthy weight are also helpful for protecting fertility. "Being overweight or underweight can interfere with ovulation," says Dr. Richardson. "There is some evidence that overexercising can as well." And no matter where you fall on the fertility timeline, your first step toward preparing your body to become pregnant should be a checkup with your physician, who can help you assess your personal health issues that may affect your fertility. to enhance your fertility 3 Ways • Maintain a healthy weight. • Avoid unprotected sex. • Don't smoke. EARLY WARNING SIGNS A young woman who knows she eventually wants a family also needs to be aware of warning signs that can indicate her fertility may not be optimal: • Irregular menstrual cycles, either very short or very long • Painful periods or intercourse • High blood pressure • Thyroid problems • Diabetes • Extreme stress In addition, says Dr. Richardson, forget that old advice about waiting a year before consulting with your doctor if you haven't conceived. No matter how old you are, if you are having regular intercourse and aren't pregnant in six months, see your OB/GYN. "Infertility is infertility, and there's no sense waiting longer than you need to," he says. "If you are ready for a child and want one and can't get pregnant, that should be addressed. We may not be as aggressive in treatment with that younger couple, but we owe it to them to start." • Maybe a baby? Beating the biological clock by cryogenically freezing your eggs used to be an option only for women sufering from fertility-threatening health issues such as cancer, but it's now available to anyone who can aford it. The trick is to make the decision early enough in your reproductive life to be sure you have healthy eggs to freeze. It's not a realistic option for a woman past about age 35, say doctors. SHUTTERSTOCK w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 23

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