March 21, 2018

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Fertility

We're down with seeing 2018 declared the Year of the Woman, during which everything from the #metoo and #timesup movements to female fertility is discussed in an open, honest, productive way. To do so, we spoke to Dr. Sonya Kashyap, medical director at Vancouver's Genesis Fertility Centre, about how she's working to change the conversation from infertility to fertility, egg freezing and beyond. Here, her top tips around empowered fertility. Enjoy! —Vita Daily


knowledge is power. These days we track our diets, fitness, sleep cycles, etc. We deserve to be equally informed about our fertility. See your family doctor or a local fertility specialist to assess your ovarian reserve through blood tests such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and an antral follicle count (AFC) ultrasound. Fertility is a "functional " diagnoses, so until you try, you don't know if you will have difficulty regardless of whether the numbers are high or low. However, earlier knowledge about low numbers may be useful information for family planning.

don't wait! Whatever "ready" means for you, getting pregnant will be easier when a woman is younger. If you know you might have trouble, (for example, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, a history of tubal disease or sexually transmitted infection) seek help sooner. It is true that 40 per cent of fertility involves male factor, but the reasons are different.

be proactive. The "fertility gender gap" is real. For women, our eggs are our age and our fertility declines with age. The fertility issues for men are different. These days, egg freezing can help to prolong fertility until you are ready. But be aware that egg freezing is not a guarantee. Success rates vary by age, clinic and situation.

don't stress. When you are trying to conceive naturally, the best advice I give to my patients is to try naturally. Put away the ovulation sticks, basal body temperature charts and mucus testing. If your cycles are regular, you are ovulating.T he egg lives for 12 to 24 hours and the sperm live for three days. Therefore, regular intercourse every two to three days without the use of sperm-killing lubricants gives the best chances. If your cycles are irregular or no success after six to 12 months, seek help.

ask about financing. In Canada the consults and the work up are mostly covered, with the exception of the AMH blood test. Everyone can have an assessment. Our federal government has committed to the fertile future of Canadians reproductive health with a federal tax credit.In the past, this required a diagnosis of infertility but now it does not. That means single parents, same-sex couples, women who may want to access egg freezing to preserve their fertility may all be eligible. Also, there are often financing options accessible through your local clinic. People who are self-employed may have a health trust they can use for flexible spending.

you are not alone. Mother Nature hasn't caught up with us! These days it takes longer to complete your education, establish your career and to find a partner. The biological clock as not adapted to the fact that the average age at first pregnancy is now 31. Open the conversation and change the conversation to help yourself and others.

secondary infertility and family planning. With the average age of first pregnancy being 31, second and third pregnancies occur later. So, while it may be easy to achieve a first pregnancy, the later pregnancies may be more difficult due to egg age or other health issues such as endometriosis. Also, many couples meet later in life and increasingly people have second marriages and families. Vasectomies, tubal ligations and other issues can be overcome with current assisted reproductive technologies.

let's make 2018 the year of the woman! Get educated. Follow your dreams. Plan your future. Ask questions. Take control of both your life and your fertility.

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