Once you start to begin the journey of trying to conceive there are undoubtedly tons of questions and concerns you might have in regard to the process, your health, and your history.
While you might begin to feel excited to rely on your mom throughout your pregnancy journey and in becoming a mom yourself, there’s another way she might be able to help too. You may not have thought of it, but talking to your mom about fertility can help you gain important insight prior to conceiving.
Celmatix board member Amber Cooper, M.D., MCSI, shares what you should ask your mom so you are prepared for your next doctor’s appointment.
Inherited Fertility Issues
According to Cooper, “research tells us that genetics plays a role in a woman’s likelihood to develop a number of fertility-related conditions, including endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which is also known as early menopause.” Each of these conditions can have a big effect on your fertility, but by being aware of your inherited risk and experiences, you’ll be more informed to discuss steps with your doctor to improve your health, and chances of getting pregnant.
Mom’s Medical History
It’s important to understand where you come from in order to have insight into where you might be going. The same is true for fertility. Cooper suggests approaching your mother with questions that include:
• Is there a history of endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian failure, miscarriage, fibroids, or other infertility in our family?
• Did any family members have preterm births, or need for hysterectomy?
• Did you have irregular menstrual cycles or painful menstrual cycles?
• Did you and Dad try to conceive for a long time or did you get pregnant quicker than you expected?
• If I end up having trouble getting pregnant and there were options to consider, would I have your support?
• At what age did you first start trying? How long did it take for you to become pregnant?*
If you have a male partner, he’s not necessarily off the hook either. It’s important for him to also ask his family members about their own health histories. “Sometimes issues in women, including autoimmune diseases and genetic conditions, can be passed from women to men as well,” says Cooper.
Knowledge is Power
It’s important to understand your mother’s history since “your genetics can play an important role in how you approach your plans for the future, and that’s true no matter where you are in your family building—whether you’re unsure or certain you want kids, or if you’re already trying,” Cooper explains. She adds that by understanding your family history, including your mom’s fertility history, you’ll be one step closer to understanding your genetics.
In addition, because certain reproductive conditions can be passed down from generation to generation, having open and honest conversations may shed light on the prevalence of these conditions in your family and help you prepare for your own future. Because of this, at a physician appointment you might be faced with questions including:
• Do any conditions related to fertility run in your family?
• At what age did your mom have her kids? When is your ideal timeline?
• How long did it take your mother to become pregnant?
• If you had to explore nontraditional avenues to become pregnant, would that be something you would be open to? Do you have support from your family?
• If you have a male partner, does infertility run in his family?
By having the right conversations beforehand, you can be prepared.
Aside from health interviews, further understanding your genetics can be especially powerful. For example, the Fertilome genetic test, the first multi-gene panel for risk of reproductive conditions in women, can be easily administered by a doctor. The results can provide invaluable insight, telling you if you’re at increased risk of many of the most common reproductive health conditions based on your DNA.