Get Your Body Ready For Pregnancy (Now Or Later In Life) With This Hormone-Expert-Approved Checklist

Photo: Jovo Jovanovic

Alisa Vitti is an integrative nutritionist, hormone expert, and best-selling author of Woman Code. We’re so excited to add her to our incredible roster of instructors, and if you’re interested in learning more about how to regulate your cycle naturally, balance hormones, boost fertility, and kiss PMS goodbye, check out her newest mbg class offering!

So many of us are delaying motherhood with good reason. We need time to get financially stable, to find the right partner, and to pursue career goals and life experiences. That's all beautiful, but while you're doing those things, you also want to take steps today that will pay dividends in your fertility later.

This was my situation as well. I hadn’t met the man I wanted to start a family with until my early 30s, and we weren’t ready to start that family until recently. I was very invested in making sure I could get pregnant when I was ready. If you’re not ready to become a mother now but know that you want to or at least want the option to in the future, then you absolutely need to take the right steps today. By maintaining a good hormonal balance throughout my 20s and 30s, when I was ready to become a mother, my body was ready to perform this extraordinary feat. Don’t waste that precious decade-plus ignoring your hormonal issues, and instead take action with your diet to improve your fertility. You definitely do not want to wait to address these symptoms and/or issues until you actually want to get pregnant—I hear it all the time. Many women report feeling stressed and pressed for time.

And if you are trying to conceive now but are facing difficulty, then these same steps apply.

If your social media feed is anything like mine, there are more brave women sharing their personal struggles with fertility. And for a fair number of women, the road to motherhood is downright complicated and exhausting. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 have impaired fertility in the United States. If that number seems insignificant, think of it this way: 7 million women who want to get pregnant can’t.

Sure, we thankfully live in an era when assisted reproductive technology can help make motherhood a very real possibility for women who otherwise couldn’t conceive, but many of these infertility interventions are shockingly expensive and impossible to afford for the average American. Just one round of IVF costs around $12,000 (more if you want or need to prescreen for genetic disorders), and only between 30 and 40 percent of these cycles are successful at all. Shocking statistics, right?

Why so many women struggle with infertility.

There’s no single explanation for why an exorbitant number of women are struggling to conceive. Our modern world is full of obstacles that our ancestors simply didn’t have to face (think unprecedented use of food pesticides, environmental chemicals, and hormonally disruptive medications). But while we can’t pump the breaks on our rapidly changing reality, we can control and counteract some of the damage affecting our reproductive health.

By developing a deeper understanding of the factors compromising your chances at motherhood, you can increase your chances of naturally preserving your fertility and negating the need for expensive and invasive treatments.

The major reasons modern women are struggling with infertility:

  1. Hormone-disrupting medications like NSAIDs destroy your delicate balance of gut bacteria, which is essential for health conception.
  2. Recent research suggests that long-term use of the birth control pill is associated with an increased risk for Crohn’s, a disease related to microbiome imbalance.
  3. Food pesticides have been linked to reduced rates of pregnancy and an increased risk of pregnancy loss.
  4. Chemicals in everything from your cleaning supplies to your beauty products contain chemicals that are bioaccumulative and sometimes toxic, which means they stay in your system, allowing for the possibility of increased free radical damage that makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases, cancers, and compromised fertility.
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The must-know steps to preserve your future fertility.

If you’re thinking of trying to conceive one day, you’ll want to immediately take these crucial steps to enhance your chances:

1. Decide about birth control.

Most women take birth control not to prevent pregnancy but to deal with symptoms of menstrual disorders like PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, cysts, and more. The problem here is that synthetic hormones do not fix what’s wrong with your hormones, and the same hormonal imbalances that are making your period miserable also impair your fertility. The sooner you go off of this treatment and deal with your hormones, the more time you will give your endocrine system to recover. By using food and supplement therapy to address hormonal issues today, you supercharge your fertile factors for tomorrow. Taking this long-term approach is much less stressful than staying on birth control until a year before you want to have a baby, which is typically when you are older and your fertile window is smaller. Give yourself the gift of time by taking action to improve your period now, so whenever you do decide to try, it can be a much easier process. Here's how I advise my clients to quit the pill without getting their symptoms back.

2. Track your cycle and PMS symptoms monthly.

Once you quit birth control, audit your cycles by using tracking apps like the one I designed, and get other information about your hormones through your period by taking the V-Sign quiz to troubleshoot your specific period problems. Keep on top of your monthly hormone report by evaluating period color and PMS symptoms. Life happens, stress happens, micronutrient depletion happens—taking action as soon as you see it is affecting your hormones is a great way to keep your hormones happy and to preserve your fertility long term. Addressing your PMS today will improve your estrogen-to-progesterone ratio and increase your ability to maintain a pregnancy.

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3. Green your products.

Swap chemical-laden products for hormone-friendly replacements. You absolutely must reduce your exposure to endocrine-disruptive chemicals now, for not only your health but also your child’s future health. EWG a few years back shared a shocking statistic that babies are born with more chemicals circulating than ever before, and this is through maternal exposure. That aside, common chemicals like triclosan, found in hand sanitizer, hand wash, and toothpaste, are known to decrease fertility in men and women. Switch to brands like Seventh Generation to clean your home, and look to Credo Beauty for all your beauty and skin care product swaps.

4. Take the right supplements.

So many women are severely micronutrient deficient when it comes to their hormonal needs. Between working out too much, drinking caffeine and alcohol, stress, and taking synthetic hormonal birth control, by the time you are ready to get pregnant, your body is running on fumes. By taking the right supplements that provide building blocks that the endocrine system needs to maintain optimal performance, you keep yourself hormonally younger longer, and that positively affects your fertility long term. Check out the supplements I recommend for hormone balancing.

Curious about other ways to maximize your fertility? Here's a doctor's recommendation on exactly what to eat.

Alisa Vitti

Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. Alisa is dedicated to helping women understand how to get their hormones to work without medication and break free from the menstrual mythology that prevents them from optimizing their health and lives. She is the best selling author of the much loved purple period book, WomanCode, and creator of the Cycle-Syncing® Method—a female centric diet and lifestyle program that leverages hormonal patterns for optimal health, fitness and productivity.As the founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, she has built the world's first menstrual healthcare platform that has helped hundreds of thousands of women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Period Supplements.Finally, Alisa is also the creator the MyFLO period app—the first and only functional medicine period tracker and cycle syncing tool that teaches the user why they have each symptom, and what to do get rid of it naturally, while encouraging diet, exercise, and a lifestyle that are in sync with their cycle.A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Alisa has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for Cosmo, Harper’s Bazaar, and Women’s Health. She has served on the wellness council for Yahoo Health, MindBodyGreen and Well & Good. She is also an advisor to several health and health tech startups. She has presented at SXSW, TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, Cycles&Sex, WIE Symposium, and SHE Summit and regularly trains women in the workplace on how to use her Cycle Syncing Method for greater creativity, productivity, and wellbeing at work. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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