Proactive things you can do (starting today), to improve fertility

Emma Harpham in partnership with Rita Health  |  25 Jul 2023

How to improve fertility – start with knowledge, facts & empowerment

Starting to explore your fertility can often feel overwhelming, especially if it’s something you have just begun to seriously think about. Looking for really basic information about your fertility online and sorting fact from fiction whilst trying not to worry about whether you’re doing all the right things often results in more questions than answers.

You’re sure you’d probably like to start a family in the next few years, but with so much out there on fertility timelines, age and hormones, you might be wondering – how much of this is actually in my control?

The good news – you’re certainly not alone in this. But did you know that when it comes to how to improve fertility, everything from your medical history and your mom’s menopause to your sex life can play a role?

Meet Rita Health, the fertility assessment app that empowers you with a holistic understanding of your fertility profile – beyond the usual age and hormone focus.

Their expert team sees that women across the US are being kept from learning about their own fertility health until they’re actively trying to get pregnant. They aim to bring the power back to you by turning fertility fears into curiosity and providing proactive information that helps you plan ahead.

Your fertility timeline 101

For people with ovaries who might want to have a family in the future, the fertility timeline does provide a very general guideline for how our fertility outlook can progress, and how our hormones and egg quality and quantity can shift as we age.

  • Ages 18 to 24 – Your fertility peaks and your eggs are likely to be consistently high quality.
  • Ages 25 to 30 – Your chances of getting pregnant remain steady, and your body still has a generous supply of eggs.
  • Ages 31 to 35 – Your chances of getting pregnant are high, but the odds begin to decline, and egg quality and quantity begin to reduce.
  • Ages 35 to 40 – Your most significant reduction in fertility occurs. 
  • Ages 41 to 45+ – Your fertility is at its lowest, and your chances of getting pregnant naturally decrease as your body prepares for menopause.

Understandably, if you’re thinking about trying to conceive at some point, some of this may feel worrying.

In a study by Rita Health, 25% of female respondents across the US said they felt ‘more afraid than curious’ about their fertility profiles.

Many worried about when to start trying to conceive, and whether they were already ‘too old’. Others felt worried that they hadn’t accomplished ‘everything they wanted to’ before having kids, and others felt afraid that they ‘hadn’t managed to get pregnant yet’ – but what’s the reality here?

rita health fertillity assessment

The truth about your fertility

Well, it looks something like this. When it comes to assessing your fertility, anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) levels and other hormone tests give you important insights into your reproductive health. In simple terms, they’ll give you estimates about your ovarian reserve as well as screening for hormone imbalances, helping to flag potential fertility challenges.

However, these tests may only tell part of the story – your fertility is a complex picture of various lifestyle and environmental factors, plus your overall health status. Whilst it’s a biological fact that your egg quality and overall reserve will diminish with age, this doesn’t represent as much of a ‘cliff edge’ as you might originally think.

Rita Health applied the latest clinical research and industry gold standards to identify 102 fertility-impacting factors, together with doctors on their medical board. They found that 82 out of the 102 factors that impact your fertility are actually within your control to maintain or improve – findings supported by an AI model built to remove historical biases.

By taking a proactive approach to your fertility, you’ll be able to work with a more comprehensive approach to your own reproductive wellness and gain a more nuanced understanding of what the bigger picture looks like for you.

Five easy ways to improve fertility – at home, starting today

There are some really simple things you can start doing to support your fertility, right now. From basic healthy lifestyle swaps to learning to understand yourself better so you can seek early interventions when necessary, here’s how you can make a start.

1. Build a picture of your cycle health

Embracing granular-level cycle tracking can be a powerful tool for understanding your body and key indicators of fertility. 

Did you know that if you’re using hormonal contraceptives like the pill and having monthly bleeds, you’re not actually having a genuine menstrual period? This is actually known as withdrawal bleeding and happens when the levels of hormones in your pills drop, rather than as a result of ovulation.

As these contraceptives often suppress ovulation, you won’t always be able to tell if or when you’re ovulating each month. To truly understand your ovulatory status, it is a good idea to take a break from hormonal contraception. Observing and tracking your natural cycle lets you get in touch with your body, identify your ovulation patterns, and gain valuable insights into your fertility status.

2. Check-up on your reproductive and sexual wellbeing

A yeast infection might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to red-flag reproductive health issues – but keeping an eye on your vaginal microbiome balance, as well as getting comprehensive sexual health screenings when necessary, are super important for safeguarding your fertility. 

Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which impacts fertility. Similarly, recurrent bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections can signal a vaginal microbiome imbalance – which can hinder embryo implantation and sometimes indicate other underlying health concerns that could affect fertility. 

Luckily, these conditions are usually simple to diagnose, and very easy to treat at home.

how to improve fertility proactive

3. Make some basic lifestyle swaps

When we talk about lifestyle changes here, it’s all about creating better, healthier habits which support your fertility over time, as well as enhancing your overall well-being.

  • Focusing on maintaining a healthy and balanced diet that includes fertility-boosting foods rather than eating restrictively, is a great first step. This is because proper nutrition plays such a vital role in your reproductive health.
  • Exercising regularly is great, and this can look different for everyone, so take time to find a form of exercise that works for you. Be mindful not to over-exercise, as excessive physical activity can disrupt hormonal patterns and affect fertility just as much as under-exercising
  • Sleep is a core fertility booster that often gets left out of the equation. Getting enough rest and avoiding screen time before bed to promote longer, better-quality sleep is crucial for maintaining your hormonal balance, as well as your general health and well-being.
  • Additionally, steer clear of passive smoking as much as you can. Whilst giving up smoking is known to be an important step for promoting overall health, exposure to second-hand smoke has also been linked to increased infertility and even slightly earlier menopause.

4. Manage your mental health

It may not seem obvious at first, but supporting your fertility can involve making important mental health changes. Research has shown that cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, can have a negative impact on fertility. Not only can it affect progesterone levels which play a crucial role in prepping your body for pregnancy, but it has links with diminished egg quality, too. Adopting a holistic approach that includes mental health care can really beneficial here. Setting time aside for trying out simple stress management techniques like movement, meditation and connecting with people who can support you can go a long way.

It’s worth noting that SSRI antidepressants, while so helpful and crucial for many, can act as hormonal disruptors as well. There are different risks connected with untreated mental health disorders, so it’s worth checking out your options with your healthcare provider if this is something that is relevant to you.

support your fertility

5. Look into your medical history

Taking a look into your and your family’s medical history, especially your mother’s reproductive journey, can help give you clues about your own fertility profile.

If you can, find out your mom’s menopause age and symptoms, as well as any baby loss she might have experienced. If she went through early menopause, your ovarian reserve could be something for you to investigate. Similarly, whilst the risk of miscarriage isn’t considered to be hereditary, it is thought that some known recurrent miscarriage causes, like antiphospholipid syndrome, can have a genetic element. 

Medical history is really just one piece of your fertility puzzle though. Take it as a helpful starting point towards making informed decisions where you feel it is necessary.

Now you’ve got some places to start when it comes to how to improve fertility.

Curious about what’s most relevant for you to focus on? Take Rita’s holistic fertility assessment to get hold of your own personal fertility profile, and access end-to-end support and tailored tips on how you can be proactive about your health and fertility – starting today.

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