You and Your Future Fertility

Whoever deals with prayer requests must be very confused.  When I was in my early twenties, I had a few ‘oops’ moments that led to fervent prayers begging that I was not pregnant. “Dear Lord, if you make sure I am not pregnant, I will promise to behave myself and be more careful in future!  Please no pregnancy, I don’t want a baby!” 

Fast forward a few short years and my prayers took a 180 degree turn.  “Dear Lord, if you make sure I am pregnant, I will promise to do everything that is good and right and pure!  Please let me be pregnant, I so badly want a baby!”

When you are young and carefree and 100% not ready to settle down or even *think* about having a baby, it’s hard to imagine that one day your prayers might change from “no baby” to “baby please”. Some young women are convinced they don’t ever want children.  And that’s ok!  Other women are convinced they would like to settle down one day and have a family, but certainly not now! That’s planned for 2025.  Check ✅ All sorted.  But one thing that life teaches us, is that not everything goes according to our well laid out plans.

As females, we are born with all the eggs we will ever have.  Each month your body gets rid of several eggs which if not used to get pregnant or donated to someone who needs donor eggs, those eggs go to waste. This starts at puberty and continues until menopause.  The biological clock is not a myth and with each cycle your body moves you along toward menopause when having children is no longer an option. As you get older the quality of your eggs also deteriorates – as much as we’d love to invent one, there’s no anti-aging serum when it comes to egg quality. Unfortunately the tick-tock of the biological clock counts down for everyone.   

So how do you protect your future fertility?  How do you know if you are even fertile at all?

Dealing with the second question first, gynaes and fertility specialists have a few measures they can use to assess whether your fertility is as it should be for your age.  These include ultrasound scans and blood tests.  Young women who donate their eggs have a full assessment of their future fertility done (for free) as part of the egg donation process.  If donating your eggs is not for you, you can visit your local clinic, GP or Campus Health Service and they will advise you as to what steps you can take to have your future fertility assessed.

In terms of protecting your future fertility, there are a few things you can do. Some are more obvious (smoking is bad for you and your eggs!) and some might be news to you.

The first thing you can do to protect your future fertility is to live a healthy lifestyle as far as you can. A glass of wine or a beer is fine, but excessive drinking negatively effects egg quality.  Exercise is good!  A balanced diet is good.  Smoking is bad. But you know all of that.

Weight is an issue when it comes to fertility.  Maintaining a healthy body weight can be the difference between fertility and infertility.  Being overweight affects your insulin levels, which leads to problems with ovulation. Being underweight and having extremely low body fat percentage can mean no ovulation at all.  

Precaution, protection and STDs:  STDs are one of the biggest causes of infertility in women.  We are often afraid of herpes and HPV but in actual fact gonorrhea and chlamydia are the big ones to watch out for.  Many women are affected by these type of STDs without knowing as they are asymptomatic.  These diseases can cause damage to the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility. So make sure you don’t have unprotected sex!  Regular health check ups are important. 

Lastly, one good way of taking care of your future fertility is to become an egg donor through a reputable egg donor agency like NurtureEgg donors are given a full health screening including pap smear, gynae checkup, sexually transmitted disease screening, blood tests for infectious diseases as well as an assessment of your future fertility, all for free once selected to donate.  Egg donors who are selected for the egg bank program have the additional benefit of having a few of their eggs frozen and stored for their own personal use in future should you need them

Your future fertility is probably not something that is top of mind at the moment.  You’re probably thinking about degrees, careers and business opportunities.  As you should!  But at the same time, don’t forget about biology.  And biology says our eggs have an expiry date, no matter how fit and fabulous we are when we are older.  Take care of your eggs now, and if you aren’t going to use them now to have a baby of your own, consider donating your eggs to women who are unable to conceive without the gift of donor eggs.

For more information on egg donation, please visit our FAQ . Nurture is South Africa’s most successful egg donor program having facilitated over 3000 egg donation cycles over the past 11 years. 

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Tertia Albertyn is the founder of Nurture - South Africa’s longest-running and most successful Egg Donation Program. An accomplished speaker and an award-winning published author, as well as an ex-infertility patient herself, she is highly regarded in South Africa and internationally for the work she does in infertility. Tertia was instrumental in establishing the first FDA-approved frozen donor egg bank in Africa. Tertia has an MBA from the University of Cape Town and lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her husband and three children.