Postponing your ovary’s retirement plans: Two factors that may extend fertility.

If you would say that menopause can’t get here soon enough, this advice may not be for you.  On the other hand, if you think that your ‘clock is still ticking’ and you want to extend your ovarian reserve, that is-the number of viable cycles you have left, there are two factors you may want to consider.

Environmental hormone disruptors

There are chemicals in our environment that clearly accelerate menopause by disrupting hormonal balance.  And if you are looking for another pregnancy before your ovaries finish their tour of duty, these are chemicals you don’t want in your system-either before or during pregnancy.  Recent research looked at 111 chemicals that are suspected of interfering with natural hormone production.  Fourteen of the chemicals: nine PCBs, three pesticides, and two phthalates were all significantly associated with accelerating menopause by two to four years, with the potential for detrimental effects on ovarian function.  The study found that women aged 45 to 55 who had been exposed to these organic compounds were up to six times more likely to be menopausal than unexposed peers.

Measures that can reduce these chemicals and potentially prolong your reproductive years include :

-avoiding the microwaving of food or drink in plastic containers

-checking for the recycling code on plastic products avoiding those with recycling codes 3 and 7 as they may contain phthalates or BPA. Look for plastic with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5.

-avoid spraying pesticides or herbicides yourself, and avoid spending time in a building that has been recently treated for pest control.

-try to choose personal care items that minimize chemical phalates, especially fragrances.

Most of these chemicals take more than a year to clear from your system, so you might want to work on this well before any planned pregnancy. One of the simplest and most effective way to detoxify organic chemicals is to use a sauna, particularly the far-infrared type.

Vitamin D and preservation of ovarian reserve

As menopause approaches, you will have an ever increasing amounts of the hormone FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) being produced.  To some degree, this is a measure of remaining ‘ovarian reserve’.  A recent study showed an inverse correlation where FSH levels were increasingly ‘menopausal’ in those with lower Vitamin D levels.  Those with the more optimal Vitamin D levels were preserving their ovarian function longer than those with deficient levels.  Although we lack long term data, it appears that optimizing your Vitamin D level (and aiming for a level of 50-70) may allow you to ovulate in a healthy manner throughout your ovaries’ life expectancy.

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