You may not be planning on falling pregnant right now, but if babies are on the cards in the next few years, it’s worth identifying and addressing any fertility issues sooner and not later. There also happen to be a few simple ways you can identify (and fix!) some of the early warning signs — and it starts with your period.
“Young women need to simply look at their current period to see how their fertility may be affected now and long term,” explained Alisa Vitti, a New York-based hormone guru, functional nutritionist, and founder of Flo Living.
Vitti recently released an incredibly useful (and also free!) online tool that helps women identify any possible issues with their cycle. She says it’s worth investigating this stuff immediately, rather than waiting until you’re ready to conceive to try and balance your hormones and boost your fertility. “Irregularities and issues with your monthly flow today will be the very reasons why you might have difficulty conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy when you are ready to try.”
And if you think that taking the pill or other hormonal contraception is the solution to your period problems, think again. “In fact, the pill can worsen the underlying causes for your symptoms, though you won’t feel that until you come off of it — just in time to feel like you don’t have time to deal with those before your [fertility] window closes!” says Vitti. To find out what the warning signs are, and how to address them, keep reading.
Vitti explains that women can use their period as a good indication of any fertility issues and of your broader hormonal health. By considering the “color, consistency, length and the spacing between your periods” you can work out potential problems. She says that brown spotting in the time ahead of your period can be a sign that progesterone levels are low, which could be a “risk factor for infertility and miscarriages.”
Natural fix: Her natural fix is to take a B6 supplement, and eat foods high in B-6.
Your period is such a strong indicator of your hormonal health and an irregular cycle could suggest issues. “If you have irregular cycles then you may not be ovulating,” Vitti says, adding that you may even be experiencing cycles when you don’t ovulate at all. Of course, you need to ovulate to fall pregnant, so if some cycles are anovulatory, this can cause an infertility issue when you try to get pregnant. “Just because you have a period, it does not mean you are ovulating,” Vitti explained.
Natural fix: Learn how to track your ovulation signs so you can work out when — and whether! — you’re ovulating. Without a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), irregular period are often caused by “sugar and stress,” Vitti told us. “I’m a PCOS sufferer myself and Cycle Syncing my diet allowed me to conceive my daughter at 37 years-old, on my third try,” she added.
Vitti suggests that before trying to get pregnant, it’s a smart call to head to your doctor and have a full scan for STIs and any other problems. “The low-level inflammation caused by Bacterial Vaginosis is linked to the prevention of fertilization of the egg, spontaneous miscarriage, and a higher risk of preterm birth,” she says, adding that chronic yeast and urinary tract infections (UTI) suggest your vaginal and gut microbiome could be off balance.
Natural fix: Natural treatments for yeast infections and UTIs include everything from drinking baking soda dissolved in water to adjusting your diet – check out Vitti’s suggestions here. However, there’s no substitute for a full STI scan, so head to your doctor for a pap smear if you’re concerned.