Ask a Best Doctor: How Can I Boost My Future Fertility Odds?

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Photo: Zephyr/Science Photo Library/Corbis

I'm 32. My fiancé and I have decided to wait until he finishes law school before we have a baby. What I can do in the next three years to boost my chances of having a natural, successful pregnancy when we're ready?

It's good that you're thinking about this now. "One great frustration for fertility doctors is the number of women you see in their late thirties who want to become pregnant but don’t fully realize how difficult conceiving may be," says Dr. Richard Grazi, director of Reproductive Endocrinology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. "Very often, these women will end up missing the boat, so to speak. Most just had no idea how rapidly their fertility could decline in their thirties. With some, they might have known the statistics, but there was a denial factor."

To be fair, society often makes it seem much easier than it really is for women to get pregnant in their late thirties, early forties, and even later. Here are the odds: 65 percent of women who are trying to get pregnant after their late thirties will never conceive. "By the time women come in asking to have their eggs frozen, it’s already too late for three out of four of them," Grazi says.

It sounds like it would be wise to get your fertility tested now. Ask your OBGYN or an reproductive endocrinologist about an Ovarian Reserve Test, which is a special sonogram and hormone test that can assess the quantity and quality of your eggs. Grazi recommends repeating this test every year to check for unexpected changes.

If you can freeze your eggs now, that’s the best option to improve your chances of conceiving later on. Unfortunately, freezing costs in the $10,000 range and insurance won’t pay for it. But there is plenty you can do that won't cost you at dime: No smoking, no drug use, and avoid sexually transmitted diseases, which can be real fertility killers. Finally, watch out for weight gain; you want to keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) under 30. Being 20 or 30 pounds overweight may not impact your fertility greatly, but becoming obese certainly can.