Your 20s are a time to explore the world and embark on a journey of self-discovery. While you spend your days practicing what you love and finding what makes you happy, the thought of starting a family of your own can become more serious. Depending on your relationship status, you might or might not have already started discussing plans with your significant other about when you want to bring a child into the world. Among the many external commitments that a first-born will require, there are many internal factors that contribute as well. Since you only have a certain amount of eggs in your body to last you your entire life, it’s important to know how to make the most out of your lifetime supply. Here are 10 different things that affect your fertility in your early 20s.
1. Birth control pills: These tiny pills are designed to prevent pregnancy and can help protect future fertility. They also reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer and decrease the risk of upper genital tract infections by thickening cervical mucus and increase activity of the ovary. (via Popsugar)
2. Smoking: This deadly activity affects multiple aspects of your fertility. Not only does it directly kill eggs, but it also affects the movement of the fallopian tubes, which make it harder for the eggs to move through. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, smoking causes up to 13 percent of all infertility causes. (via Health.com)
3. Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption damages the liver, and can lead to risky and unsafe sexual practices, which may lead to sexually transmitted infections. Some STIs can even cause infertility if not treated. (via Popsugar)
4. Over-exercising: Exercise is a healthy lifestyle activity, and is without a doubt, excellent for the mind and body. When it becomes more of an overly excessive activity rather than a leisurely daily routine, it can cause an unhealthy decrease in body fat. When your body fat decreases past a certain limit, the ovaries recognize it as a sign of starvation, and lose their ability to function normally. (via Popsugar)
>> Read more: 6 Fertility Supplements That Just Might Get You Pregnant
5. HGC Diet: This trendy, but questionable diet consists of taking HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injections while going on a severely low-calorie meal plan. The HCG diet is intended to help you lose weight extremely fast in an arguably unhealthy fashion. The HCG injections can cause the ovaries to form cysts, which may require surgery. The surgery itself can damage the ovaries if not removed properly, and therefore, affect your eggs. (via Popsugar)
6. Excessive weight loss/gain: Ovulation requires a certain amount of body fat. Losing an excessive amount of weight can cause permanent damage such as losing the ability to ovulate, and gaining an excessive amount of weight can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes — both of which can cause irregular menstrual periods. (via Popsugar)
7. Abnormal periods. Women who are on birth control, who are pregnant or menopausal are exempt from this category; all other women should have a regular period every month. Irregular periods could indicate serious problems involving your ovaries, and should be evaluated by your doctor. (via Popsugar)
>> Read on: 11 Questions To Ask Your Fertility Specialist
8. Endometriosis/pelvic pain: When you are on your period, endometrial tissue is expelled through the cervix into the vagina. This tissue can also be expelled backwards through the fallopian tubes and posited into the pelvis, so when the tissue implants and grows, endometriosis occurs. This causes direct damage to the fallopian tubes and to the ovary through adhesions and implantation on the ovary surface. (via Popsugar)
9. Caffeine: Coffee fiends might have a hard time coming to terms with this. A 2011 study from the Nevada School of Medicine found that caffeine interferes with the muscle contractions that help eggs travel through the fallopian tubes, though other sources believe that caffeine has no impact on fertility. If this is bothersome for you, try limiting your coffee intake per day.
10. Stress: A 2014 study published in Human Reproduction showed that women with higher levels of an enzyme linked to stress has a harder time getting pregnant. Stress alone is not responsible for infertility, but it affects other physical aspects that contribute to getting pregnant. Click here to read more about stress and infertility.