Family planning encompasses a broad array of topics ranging from contraception to fertility enhancement. For those wanting to having children, I start the conversation with when. In my experience there is generally a pretty clear timeline, I am also interested in the number of children that the person/couple have in mind. From there, I generally steer the conversation toward the importance of preconception planning. Much like starting a garden and how critical it is to make sure that the soil is well prepared to support the growth of whatever is planted, this is also true for our bodies when it comes to having children.
Most often, conversations about preconception planning center the individual that will be carrying the child. This is a perfectly reasonable place to start as the birthing parent provides the environment in which the baby will grow and develop. In the case of heterosexual relationships, I will always check to make sure that the overall health of the male partner and their fertility is assessed. Generally men's health is considered in cases either where there is known illness or when fertility issues arise. As it turns out, there are a number of things that men need to consider and they should undergo preconception planning or receive preconception counseling as well. As I mentioned in a previous post, as much as 40% of infertility in couples is due to male factors; either completely due to male factor infertility or male factors are a contributing influence to the difficulty the couple is having conceiving. And, male fertility decreases with age just as it does for women.
So, when is the best time to begin a preconception plan? I generally recommend a year, with six months as my preferred minimum when working with individuals or couples. This gives time for a thorough investigation into the individuals health as well as the adoption of new habits. Lifestyle and dietary changes are essential components to family planning and it takes time to get accustomed to a new normal with regard to how you live and what you eat. Additionally, there are other considerations such environmental factors that contribute to reproductive health that take time to address or emotional factors that deserve attention. Furthermore, while a topic for another day, the health of the parents is not only a contributing factor for the health of their children, but their grandchildren as well! So, preconception planning from my perspective is about generational health. If 2024 is the magical year for you alone or with your partner to start a family, come in to Flourish and Balance Integrative Wellness and schedule an appointment with me so that can begin this important conversation.