In my work as a functional nutrition and hormone expert, I see more and more women facing fertility challenges. I also find women are increasingly struggling with precursors to fertility problems while in their teens and twenties, in the form of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, endometriosis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and ovarian cysts.
Part of the problem is that there's an unprecedented amount of chemical exposure in our environment, which not only raises our estrogen levels but also interferes with our natural endocrine function.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do now to not only rid yourself of problematic period issues today, but also set yourself up to be maximally fertile when you're ready to have a baby.
Why should you care about your fertility now? The truth is that egg freezing is expensive and IVF treatments are not a guarantee, given their success rates. And even if you have to use those technologies, you need to make sure that you are doing everything possible to optimize your internal fertile ecosystem through food and lifestyle habits that you can instill now.
After all, the research shows that how you eat, exercise, and manage stress are critical factors in enhancing and preserving fertility.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 20, I was told that not only would I need to rely on artificial hormones and medications to manage my symptoms, but that I’d never conceive naturally. I’m happy to report that 17 years later, I’m the mother of a healthy baby girl who I conceived without medication or IVF. I consider it due to the nutritional and lifestyle work I put in after my diagnosis.
When I was hormonally imbalanced, I found it really disturbing that there was no place I could turn to for trusted guidance. That's why I'm hoping to shine a long-overdue light on the facts about female hormonal function and how food can help the body regain and maintain balance.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s science every woman needs to know in order to live her best life.
Here are a few simple steps you can take in your 20s to help your hormones and start laying the groundwork for optimal fertility down the line: