Dr. Sara Gottfried, New York Times' bestselling author and Harvard-educated gynecologist, talks about the “the fertility gap” - crucial facts that doctors don’t share with their patients but are critical to their childbearing ability.
Here at Xandara, we couldn’t agree more! There is a fertility gap, it’s widening and it’s our mission to help bridge that gap.
There are so many things that mainstream medicine isn’t addressing when it comes to getting and staying pregnant:
The healthier you are, the greater your chances of conceiving and carrying a child full-term. This may seem obvious, but if you are overweight or have one or more chronic diseases (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroid), both you and your future baby would benefit from addressing them before you conceive.
If you are having period problems, it may take longer to conceive. Period problems can include irregular or absent periods, unusually heavy or long periods, irregular ovulation (as in PCOS) or painful periods. Ideally, you would resolve these issues prior to conceiving. A regular, healthy period is the foundation of a healthy conception and pregnancy.
If you went on birth control for any reason other than pregnancy prevention (e.g., painful periods, acne, heavy bleeding), that means you had an underlying hormonal imbalance (e.g., too much estrogen, too little progesterone). More than likely, that hormonal imbalance still exists but was masked by taking birth control. It can take up to a year to restore healthy hormonal balance (and therefore, a regular period) after going off of birth control. And, this restoration requires proactive remediation - you can’t just cross your fingers and hope it will happen.
If you have PCOS, endometriosis, cysts / fibroids or other estrogen-dominant conditions, you are not relegated to a lifetime of medication and surgery. There are other options to managing (and even reversing) these hormonal conditions. And, again, it benefits you to address this prior to conceiving; it will increase your chances of conceiving and your chances of carrying the baby to term.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. There is so much fertility information out there that's misleading and quite frankly, ineffective.
So, as a woman who's interested in her reproductive health, what should you do about this fertility gap?
First, recognize that it exists! Women’s health issues in general are not being talked about nearly as much as they should be. When problems are ignored, they fester. And that’s what’s happening with fertility - we aren’t talking about it, so it’s not being addressed with nearly the vigor that it requires. You’re probably here because you have an inkling that there is another way - a better way - to tackling fertility, but you may not be sure what that “better way” is. You know that something is amiss. Trust your instincts.
Second, seek out high quality information sources. The NIH has a handy 5 question guide to help determine the credibility of news sources - that’s a good place to start. This is also our jam here at Xandara. We are pretty particular about the data we share; if you stick around here long enough, we hope that you’ll pick up some useful tips...and potentially even a new way of thinking about fertility.
Third, find a healthcare practitioner that you can partner with, that you can have an open dialogue with, that you can spend more than 5 minutes sharing your concerns with. There are many incredible clinicians out there that are willing to collaborate with you, to get creative about the solutions they employ and to care deeply about your situation. Seek them out. Don’t settle for anything less.
And finally, remember that you are part of the solution. The more involved and informed you are, the better equipped you are to bridge the gap and get where you want to go.