Whether you want a baby right this second or just want to keep things ticking over nicely, keeping a handle on your fertility in your twenties can make a whole lot of difference when you finally do come to trying.
We're all guilty of putting things off to the last second, but when you're trying to make a baby, time can make or break your chances. So if you've just hit your second decade or you're almost touching your third, here's all you need to know about fertility in your twenties.
If there's one thing the experts agree on it's that the prime time to get pregnant is in your twenties, which means if it's ever going to be plain sailing, the time is now.
Emma Canon, Founder of The Fertility Rooms and author of Total Fertility (Pan MacMillan) says: "A woman’s fertility peaks in her 20’s. You have approx 300,000 eggs by puberty and of these only 300 will ever reach maturity and be released during monthly menstruation. The quality of the eggs decline with age due to many factors not least lifestyle, illness, mediation, exposure to environmental toxins and oxidative stress."
It's great to be egg-wise but embrace your twenties for the joy that they are.
Are my eggs normal? How long should it take me to conceive? Is his sperm healthy? These are just some of the questions any wanna-be mum asks herself on a regular basis. Of course, it's natural to worry and to question if you're doing all the right things to make the magic happen but the sure-fire way to get you positively pregnant is simply by relaxing and knowing the facts.
"The chance of conceiving per month are around 30% at 20, 20% at 30 and at 5% at 40. But it will of course depend on the sperm being healthy too and there being no issues with the womb as fertility is more than just a matter of a good egg."
The stress effect
Your twenties are naturally some of the busiest of your life, you've got a career, outgoings and a million social duties to juggle and you're about to add a baby into the mix. Rest assured you're not mad.
Emma explains: "As we age the affect of stress becomes more significant in terms of reducing libido but I think the twenties is all about having fun and discovering life."
Try to enjoy this stage and look after your body as well as your mind. According to Emma, "Work is not such an issue as long as you are eating healthily and not drinking and smoking too habitually."
Fertility to-do list
Because we love a good to-do list around here, Emma's come up with a seven point fertility MOT to maximise your chances of getting prego stat:
- Understand your menstrual cycle which is the only outward sign of your fertility and a source of information as to how fertile you are.
- Eat a healthy diet – limit your sugar intake.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not binge drink.
- See a gynaecologist if you have menstrual disorders.
- Stay on top of your STDs.
- See a complementary therapist such as an acupuncturist to nurture wellness.
As much as the emphasis tends to fall on the woman and her egg count, it's a two way street and his sperm-status is just as important.
Those little guys need their fair share of TLC too as Emma explains, "Male infertility also declines but in a slightly different way as unlike eggs sperm is constantly being reproduced. However quality and quantity does
reduce and exposure to environmental factors, smoking, medications, drinking and heat can all have a detrimental effect on sperm health."
Optimising your chances of getting pregnant is a team effort, if you can help one another through well-informed decisions and healthy living you'll not only up your chances of conception but you'll feel more relaxed about the experience as a whole and that can only bode well for the bedroom department.
Stay calm and make a baby
Taking the 's' word in your stride and avoiding all unnecessary pressure to get hot and steamy between the sheets is your gold pass to pregnancy and gets the thumbs up from Emma.
"I see lots of women who having finished project job and project marriage set about obtaining a baby. Just chill out and enjoy the process. As long as your health is good just have sex in the normal way and try not to pin point it or start using ovulation sticks (which in my experience make couples reduce the amount of sex they have)."
Take Emma's advice, "Be relaxed - don’t go about it as the next project". What's the saying? Don't mix business with pleasure!
Check in with your GP
Generally, regular sex for a year should get you somewhere in the baby-making process but if it doesn't happen like that for you, don't give up or punish one another. If you are unaware of any known menstrual problems, consult your GP and deal with your concerns in a controlled environment. The last thing you want is to create a frosty boudoir.
If you want to take the more personal approach towards upping your fertility then a monitor could be an option for you. Clearblue's Advanced Fertility Monitor (£169.99) is designed to identify all of a woman's fertile days, rather than just the standard two, giving you more opportunity to get pregnant during each cycle.
Professor William Ledger, Senior Fertility Specialist & Gynaecologist says: “The monitor tracks and stores your fertility information, and you can also use the touch screen to input when your period happens and when you have intercourse.
"You can review all this key information at any time on your monthly calendar and on a 6-month summary chart, for easy reference. The Monitor is proven to improve the chances of conceiving quickly and you can also use it to test for pregnancy to see if you have been successful!”
Whilst having a baby in your twenties might be biology's idea of perfect, becoming a mother in your thirties can offer different advantages and disadvantages. Go with your instincts, if both you and your partner feel comfortable, healthy and in a secure relationship then the time is right for you irrespective of age.
And if the time's not right now, preserving your fertility through healthy lifestyle choices is vital. As Emma reminds us, "Fertility is precious and needs preserving."
The key to handing fertility in your twenties? Keep calm and have lots of sex.
Got any tips for taking baby making in your twenties? Tweet us @sofeminineUK