Simple Things You Can Start Doing Now to Be More Fertile Later

Welcome to The V, our weeklong series devoted to all things sex and reproductive health. This is a safe space free from "taboos," because there's no reason women should feel awkward talking about their bodies. That said, we'll be clearing up misinformation on the subject, starting with this huge misnomer: The "V" in this case doesn't refer to the vagina, but the vulva, which is the anatomically correct term for external female genitalia (including the opening of the vagina). Stay tuned all week for need-to-know guides on birth control, tips for taking your orgasm to the next level, real-life stories about endometriosis, and everything in between.

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At a recent breakfast with the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, one of the fertility experts in attendance spoke about hating the term "biological clock," saying she denied it and its truth throughout medical school. Surprised by this, I waited for her to unleash the groundbreaking news that the term is just a scare tactic, but this moment never came. "The biological clock is a real thing," she said as all of our faces subsequently fell.

In fact, a woman reaches peak fertility in her early to mid-20s—sad news for those of us focused on our careers or just not ready or able to have a child in our 20s, which seems to be the norm for generations Y and Z: Since 2000, more women have been having children after age 35. But this isn't to say that you're doomed post-20s—women over 35 are certainly capable of birthing a healthy baby. However, the risks do heighten as you age, such as the likelihood of needing a C-section, increased blood pressure, and a greater possibility of having a premature birth or a miscarriage.

On the other end of the spectrum, a recent study did find a correlation between a higher maternal age and health of the baby: From 2001 to 2007, tens of thousands of UK children were evaluated up to age 5, and the older the mothers were at the time of birth, the less likely the child was to require medical attention or have health issues. In other words, there's some give-and-take when it comes to giving birth in your 30s and 40s.

Also, freezing your eggs is quite expensive—I learned at the breakfast that it can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 plus an annual storage fee of $600 to $800, and insurance doesn't cover it (unless the patient has cancer), so it's not always a feasible choice. Luckily we come bearing good news: Shefali Shastri, MD, gave us some insight on steps you can take, in terms of diet and lifestyle, to be more fertile. But first she shared some important information on infertility. Keep scrolling for more info.

This story was originally published on April 20, 2017.