Perhaps more than any other decade, your 20s vary wildly from person to person. Some folks spend their 20s focused on their careers and dating, while others are settled down with a partner and ready for kids by 26. But whether or not you’ve got babies on the brain, there are some things that all 20-somethings should know about fertility, which is why we checked in with Banafsheh Kashani, MD, OBGYN, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist in Orange County, for seven things to keep in mind, fertility-wise, before you turn 30.
1. The biological clock is real
“We can visually see differences in the quality of eggs under a microscope from women who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s,” Dr. Kashani says. “Just as your skin ages, so do your eggs.” She adds that, because of said biological clock, chances of pregnancy go down in your 30s, and especially in your 40s, and chances of miscarriage go up as you get older.
2. Menstrual cycles are a clue to your fertility
“Having regular menstrual cycles every month is an indicator you are ovulating,” Dr. Kashani tells us. “If you don’t have regular menstrual cycles, this is a signal that you may also have a problem with fertility, either now or in the future.” If you suspect something is off, consult your gynecologist.
3. Endometriosis can lead to future fertility problems
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Endometriosis is an often-painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.” In addition to causing symptoms like very painful periods, pain during intercourse, and/or pain during bowel movements, Dr. Kashani stresses that it can contribute to fertility issues down the line, meaning you and your OB/GYN should keep lines of communication open.
4. There are blood tests and a simple ultrasound that can assess your fertility
No, your fertility doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Dr. Kashani tells us that you can ask your doctor for ways to measure your ovarian reserve or egg quantity compared to other women of your age, which will give you an idea of your fertility. “This information can be helpful if you are thinking of preserving your fertility, for example, with egg freezing,” she adds.
5. The egg freezing process is not as scary as you might think
Speaking of egg freezing, Dr. Kashani tells us that the process, which often seems painstakingly long and expensive, doesn’t have to drain your energy and bank account. She says that the whole thing can take as little as two weeks and is more readily available and affordable than ever. Together with your doctor, you can explore your options and find the one that’s right for you—if that’s a path you want to go down, of course.
6. Some lubricants can negatively affect your fertility
When it comes to lubricants that shouldn’t cause any issues, Dr. Kashani recommends Pre-Seed, a lubricant that mimics natural lubricant and is fertility-friendly. On the subject of avoidable things that can negatively impact fertility, Dr. Kashani—and pretty much every medical professional—strongly advises against smoking, which can not only decrease your fertility but can also trigger premature menopause (this applies to second hand smoke as well).
7. The highest number of eggs you had was while your mother was pregnant
Yep. According to Dr. Kashani, you have one to two million eggs while in the womb, and once you’re born, the numbers continue to drop. “And unlike men who can regenerate new sperm,” Dr. Kashani tells us, “women cannot make new eggs. So it’s important to stay healthy to preserve the eggs you have and maintain their quality.”