By Svetlana Izrailevsky, RN, BSN
Here is why talking with grandma will help you with your fertility and your chance of becoming a mother.
I love Harry Potter. The scene that comes to mind involves Harry and the mirror of Erised. He is sitting in front of it and watching a parade of ancestors pass by, each with some feature that he himself has. While previous generations can bequeath dimples, red hair, and snub noses, they can also pass on certain health conditions. They may pass on a history of susceptibility to heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Although, these may not have been conclusively linked to genetics, it may still be a factor.
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You need to know about your family history to plan ahead about you fertility potential and pregnancy chance
As much as possible, you should learn about your family health history. And not just how grandma and grandpa met, but how long did it take grandma to get pregnant? Did she have any miscarriages? Did she have irregular menses or early onset of menopause? You may not feel the need to dig into all the old stories, because, after all, you are in your twenties and single or newly married and not ready to face parenthood. However, if you do discover any issues, you can impact your health right now and moving forward be much better prepared for when that time does come. It may also be that knowing now more about your family history could make you readjust your own reproductive choices by for example choosing to have children earlier.
You should always as well discuss detailed family health history with your physician. If you are ready to have children, there are screening tests that you can take at anytime. These tests can screen for a number of health issues as well as potential genetically linked conditions. It is always easier and better to be forewarned than sitting around and waiting for the results of a screen for genetically linked diseases while pregnant.
If you are a member of an ethnic or a religious minorities, there might be certain conditions that are more widespread within your group. Think Sickle Cell trait in African-American population, thalassemia in certain Asian populations, BRCA I and BRCA II genes (linked to early onset of breast and cervical cancer) in Ashkenazi Jewish population, etc. Getting tested before you attempt to get pregnant can expedite your road to achieving motherhood. You could become aware in advance if there is an issue to be addressed. This can help guide you to get the right kind of help on time from the right expert.
If you are trying to get pregnant, it is vital to know the overall state of your health and to know your family health history. Even if you were not aware that your family history is a factor, but were wondering about why it is difficult to get pregnant…grab your doctor now and settle down for a good long look at your own mirror of Erised.
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Opionato started with one woman’s personal fertility experience and the vision to give others what she lacked. Read Maja’s story here: https://www.opionato.com/blog/what-i-wish-i-knew-my-fertility-journey.