I’ve yet to meet someone that dreamed of the day they could become my patient.
You may dream of your wedding day. You may fantasize about your next vacation destination, but do you think about me — a fertility doctor? Nope, that’s not happening.
And here’s the thing — while I love my patients and have been known to tell a good joke or two, I hope to never meet you.
Hear me out on this one.
I want to PREVENT infertility. My job as a doctor is to do my best to ensure I educate you enough that many of you will never need to visit me.
Of course, many of you may become my patients, and I love the treatment work I do.
But this is a guide on how to not become my patient. If you follow Patagonia clothing company, it’s sort of like how they have ads that say, “Don’t Buy This Shirt.” They are a company that’s about sustainability. They don’t want you to buy another shirt. Well, I guess I’m the Patagonia of fertility medicine. I don’t want you to need my services.
Where does that leave us?
I’m going to use this show to outline the steps for preventing infertility. Yet, it’s a bit of an oxymoron as you can’t truly prevent infertility.
Yes, you heard that right. And here’s why: Every woman will run out of a healthy egg supply at some point in her life. Eventually we will all go through menopause. This is NORMAL.
For some, it’s around the age of 37. For others, it’s 35 or 42, but by 43, maybe 3 percent of women still have a healthy egg left. I know your neighbor’s dog walker got pregnant at 53. And you have all these other friends who did too, but let’s talk human biology here.
I wish I had BOTOX to inject in ovaries to magically make them young again. But, as you’ve likely heard me say before — fertility is not skin deep.
It’s why I want to teach you about your fertility and how to understand, preserve, and make use of it when you still can. You know the obvious stuff, don’t smoke, and maintain a healthy body size.
I started Egg Freezing Party in 2014 because I realized there was a gap in knowledge when it came to egg freezing. People now know more about what that entails, and for that I’m grateful.
Here are the 8 Steps I Recommend to “Prevent” Infertility
1. Check Your Fertility Levels Before Starting Birth Control
Birth control can mask infertility. When you’re on the pill or have an IUD, your body has a period, but it’s a chemical period — or one that’s stimulated by the birth control hormones. This means you can think your cycle is normal, when in actuality it may not be. I’ve seen women on birth control for over a decade only to stop to get pregnant and realize they have very low fertility. They had no clue this was an issue as the pill made them think their cycle was normal.
Here’s what you can do to prevent unsuspecting infertility that’s masked by birth control.
Get your levels checked. Understand your fertility hormone levels — AMH, FSH and Estradiol.
In addition, I recommend getting a carrier screen done to make sure you aren’t at higher risk of having a blood clot. (Many birth control options increase the risk of clotting). If your insurance doesn’t cover these tests, you can find them for around $400 vs. the thousands of dollars that they used to be.
2. Start CoQ10 Early
CoQ10 can help the mitochondria in our cells. It’s something that naturally starts to decline in our cells at age 30. Some studies suggest that as these levels decline it coincides with when fertility levels decline.
Starting it early can maybe have long term benefits to your egg quality.
Take one to two capsules per day as soon as you know you may want to have a family. Go to this link to get this brand and use code 105401 for the PAC price.
3. If you have heavy periods or painful periods, get an ultrasound
A pelvic ultrasound will help identify a problem like endometriosis or fibroids that may be contributing to painful periods. Getting a proper diagnosis will help guide the most helpful treatment. Studies have shown it can take up to six years for a woman to get a proper diagnosis. That is not acceptable. Get a pelvic ultrasound early. Endometriosis and fibroids can impact fertility. It can block tubes and make implantation harder. But there are things you can do. Know your options, get a diagnosis, and then understand what your options are.
Make sure you are working with a doctor that listens to you. Tell them, “I’d like a pelvic ultrasound because I’m having painful and heavy periods.” Then keep a report of what you discover. Keep track of your own medical records. Be in control of your own information.
4. Get your fertility levels checked
If you’re 21 and have a significant family history of fertility issues (like if your mom went into menopause at age 30 or if your mom needed IVF to have you) get your levels checked. Otherwise, check levels around age 25.
Talk to your family members and get to know your fertility family history. Find out when your mother went through menopause as it may impact you and your fertility.
Depending on your life goals, consider freezing eggs by 32 if you want this as an option. Or freeze embryos by 37 if you aren’t done growing your family and want the option to have more than one child.
5. Check Sperm Health
Age of the sperm matters. I don’t think it’s a bad idea for a guy in his 20s to freeze his sperm. It’s certainly much easier than egg freezing. It’s a cup, maybe some blood work and then you send the sperm to long term storage, freeze it and forget it until you need it.
It takes the sperm and egg to make a baby. In many cases, there are factors from both the male and female side that may be impacting fertility.
6. STDs are bad. Avoid Chlamydia.
One exposure to chlamydia can increase your need for IVF. Avoid chlamydia.
7. Get Your TUSHY Checked
If there was something wrong and you treated it, then you wouldn’t need to go through fertility treatment.
Tubes, Uterus, Sperm, Hormones, and Your genetic profile.
Rather than doctors telling patients to try for a year and then come to see them if there is a problem, we should be doing basic testing early and often. This includes preconception screens, carrier screens, semen analysis, and an ultrasound of the uterus.
Put simply, get your TUSHY checked. It may save you a lot of money, time, and heartache if you diagnosis your infertility before pursuing any treatment.
8. Plan Your Pregnancies
We hear so much about secondary infertility now (difficult time getting pregnant for baby #2). It’s why it’s so important to have a plan for each pregnancy. Get levels checked periodically and even consider freezing eggs or embryos. Talk about when you want to get pregnant and discuss your options with your doctor. Have a plan!
I hope that nobody has problems getting pregnant. Of course, there will be many of you that encounter roadblocks on your journey to becoming a parent. I’m realistic. Yet, I certainly want there to be less heartache and for you to have a doctor that you can learn from and talk to about your struggles. It’s what I aim to be for my patients. Yet, even if you aren’t my patient I want you to know that you can reach out.
If you’re curious about something or have a suggested show topic, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment here.
Thank you and I wish you the best of luck in building the family of your dreams.
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through the Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube,Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcast too!