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Protect your fertility

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Minding your biological clock

It's common knowledge that women have a harder time conceiving as they age, but new research says that having a baby may be even more difficult than previously thought. According to scientists, by the time a woman hits 30, she may have lost up to 90 percent of her eggs, and only 3 percent are reportedly left by the time a woman hits 40. A new study highlights the importance of protecting your fertility before and after you hit age 30. If you are trying to conceive, here's what you need to know about your biological clock.

Biological Clock

Watch your diet

Why it matters: A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found women who gobbled down unhealthy fatty foods had a harder time conceiving than women who didn't. What's more, indulging in healthy fats appears to protect a woman's eggs from infertility and other ovarian problems.

What you can do: Eat a diet rich in antioxidant-packed fruits and vegetables, and add a dab or two of healthy fats, like avocados, nuts and olive oil, to your daily meals.

Take care of your health down there

Why it matters: A sexually transmitted disease (STD) can wreak havoc on your reproductive system. Conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease can scar your uterus, while other STDs can disrupt your monthly cycle. On top of that, conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome can affect your chances of having a child.

What you can do: The best way to stay STD-free is to always, no matter what, use a condom when engaging in sexual acts with your partner. In addition, see your doctor for an annual pap smear, which can detect all types of infections, including HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea and herpes. If you find you do have an STD or a reproductive issue, seek treatment immediately.

Go on the pill

Why it matters: Recent research has shown that oral contraceptives have a beneficial impact on reproductive health. The Pill has been shown to reduce a woman's risk of diseases ranging from ovarian cancer and cysts to endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease.

What you can do: Talk to your doctor about going on The Pill. With so many oral contraceptive options on the market, you and your doctor can find the best one to suit your body's needs.

Get your man to pitch in

Why it matters: A woman's reproductive health is only part of the story; protecting the health of a man's sperm is the other.

What you can do: Keep heat away from his penis and scrotum because heat has been shown to lower a man's sperm count. This means no hot laptops on his lap and no long hot tub soaks. Another sperm-preserving tip: He should wear loose-fitting boxer shorts instead of briefs because tighter underwear restricts blood flow to a man's genitalia and, therefore, can kill sperm.

Take stock

Why it matters: If you are planning on having a baby in the future, keep in mind that women are born with all of the useable eggs they'll ever have. Protecting the eggs you've got left is crucial.

What you can do: Talk to your doctor about fertility options such as preserving your eggs through freezing or treatments, such as medication or artificial insemination, to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

More on improving your fertility

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