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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Female Reproductive Health

Understanding the realities of female reproductive health including age and pregnancy is an important part of maintaining overall good health and planning for your future fertility. Sadly, many women are in the dark about pregnancy, ovulation, and female reproductive health. Test your knowledge of pregnancy, ovulation, fertility, and female reproductive health by taking our Free Female Fertility Quiz.

Female Reproductive Health Risk Factors

Participating in these activities can impact your female reproductive health:

Smoking can have a serious impact on your female reproductive health by interfering with your body’s ability to create estrogen and thereby regulate ovulation. It can also cause your eggs to be more prone to genetic abnormalities, is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage, and has been linked to early onset of menopause. In addition to its impact on female reproductive health and fertility, smoking has been tied to increases in the likelihood of cervical cancer and pelvic infections.

What to do?
If you smoke, consider quitting. The impact of smoking is greater the longer you smoke and while not all of the female reproductive health damage is reversible, stopping now can prevent future damage. In addition to improving your female reproductive health, you can also improve other important aspects of your health, including heart and lung health.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

Alcohol and Drugs
Moderation is the key with alcohol. In fact, many studies have shown that there is some benefit in the consumption of small amounts of alcohol for women. However, excessive consumption of alcohol and alcohol abuse can lead to female reproductive health problems including; irregular ovulation, amenorrhea (absence of menses), and the abnormal development of the endometrial lining.

Illegal drugs, such as marijuana, heroin and cocaine, are universally damaging to female fertility and female reproductive health. Perhaps more difficult to manage are the risks that some legal and over-the-counter drugs may have on fertility and female reproductive health. For example, some prescription medications can interfere with ovulation.

What to do?
Don’t use illegal drugs and moderate your alcohol consumption. Discuss any prescription drugs that you are taking with your doctor to determine if any may pose a female reproductive health problem in the future.

There is more information than ever available on the effects of “body burden”, or the build up of certain environmental toxins, such as pesticides, fertilizers and solvents, in our bodies, as well as its impact on female reproductive health. While the extent to which toxin exposure contributes to infertility is still somewhat unclear, it should be considered as a preventable cause of female reproductive health problems.

Exposure to toxins has been linked to several female reproductive health problems such as, irregular periods, hormone changes, endometriosis and higher miscarriage rates in pregnant women.

What to do?
Try to limit your exposure to toxic materials as much as possible, particularly while trying to conceive. Take the proper precautions when using products containing or comprised of harmful toxins including the use of safety gloves, face masks and protective clothing to minimize direct exposure.

Sexual History
The best way to prevent female reproductive health problems related to sexual history is to practice safe sex – above and beyond preventing unwanted pregnancies. Many sexually transmitted infections (STDs) go untreated for long periods of time because the symptoms are sometimes not visible. This can pose a considerable threat to female reproductive health and future fertility. STDs, when left untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, causing scarring or blocking of the fallopian tubes, and changes in the cervix.

What to do?
If you are sexually active, use a condom in addition to any hormonal birth control method, as it is the most effective way to protect yourself from STDs. See your doctor regularly to be tested for a range of STDs which may impact your female reproductive health.

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