The Influence of Family History and How it May Impact your Fertility
When visiting the doctor, you know the drill. Filling out the family medical history form is a routine procedure. Scrolling through all the possible conditions: high blood pressure, history of cancer, history of kidney disease, but do you know anything about your family’s fertility history? Fertility history can be easily forgotten, overlooked or not even discussed with your family, which can make it a difficult question to answer.
Initiating a conversation about your family fertility history with your mom or older sister about her fertility journey can add much-needed insight to your health, before you decide you’re ready to start a family of your own. The journey to creating a family begins with educating yourself on how a possible genetic condition can impact your fertility and that can be a bit scary, but knowledge is power and being aware can only prepare you for what could be ahead.
Key questions to ask your family can include:
- Did your mother have regular periods?
- Did your mother or her sisters have any problem getting pregnant or have any pregnancy losses?
- At what age did your mother go into menopause?
- Did your mother have a hysterectomy? If so, how old was she and what was the reason?
- Is there a family history of endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, or other uterine anomalies?
- Is there a family history of autoimmune disorders?
- Is there a family history of autism or Fragile X?
It is also important to remember that parents can have a baby with a genetic disease even though neither of the parents have it. If you are aware of a genetic disease that runs in your family, you could be a possibly be a carrier for this gene as well. Consulting your doctor is the best way to rule out any conditions that you might possibly face on your fertility journey.
Creating a safe and empathetic space to have this personal discussion with your family will aide in conversation that could bring up possible painful trauma. Among other factors, miscarriages are a sensitive topic for many women and to speak about their experience requires a level of patience and sensitivity.
Breaking boundaries and having these conversations is necessary and extremely impactful to the future of individual and collective family history of fertility. It might not be very easy at first but being open and staying positive throughout the conversation makes it easier to talk about, and eventually, creates a safe space for fertility history to become a normal topic to discuss.