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What I Wish I’d Known About Fertility Health In My 20s

For many of us, our twenties and even thirties are a time when the focus is on pregnancy prevention. And that’s okay! But even when the idea of motherhood is miles away there is tremendous value in understanding your fertility health and what you can do to support it during these young, carefree days. Getting intimately acquainted with your cycle and clueing into things like ovulatory health and hormonal balance can help you manage PMS symptoms while also setting the stage for a future pregnancy. And let’s be real—a lack of knowledge about your fertility health and how it relates to your health as a whole can be really damaging, and many women find that out far too late in the game. So with that in mind, here’s what we wish we’d known about fertility health in our 20s.

Your Period Is A Window To Your Fertility

If you aren’t worried about when you ovulate, you may not be all that interested in tracking your period. But familiarizing yourself with your cycle can tell you a lot about your fertility health (not to mention, it can help you prevent pregnancy until the time is right!). While individual cycles vary from month to month and over the course of your life, the length of your cycle can be a window to your fertility. 

An average cycle length of 24 to 35 days is an indication of regular ovulation and the hormonal balance necessary to support a natural conception. If you have a shorter cycle of 24 days or less, that might be a sign that ovulation isn’t occurring or that there are fewer eggs in the ovaries. Shorter cycles are also associated with reduced fertility (1). Longer cycles of more than 35 days can also be a warning sign that ovulation is occurring irregularly or not at all.

Ovulation, of course, is the phase in your menstrual cycle during which an egg is released from an ovary in preparation for possible conception. It’s the most fertile time of your cycle, and it typically occurs about 14 days after a period begins. If you’re on hormonal birth control, which isn’t unusual during your 20s, you won’t ovulate. What’s more, it can mask infertility issues that won’t become evident until you stop taking it. That’s because hormonal birth control creates an artificial cycle, which means you really don’t know the regularity and length of your natural cycle. Some birth control methods, like the pill and hormonal IUDs, can also mask symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Your Egg Reserve Is Limited

You probably already know that women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have (up to two million!). Thousands are lost before puberty, and once menstruation begins, one egg is released every month in preparation for ovulation, while another thousand or so are shed. But no new eggs are ever made, so you get what you get—and your reserves are limited. Once you’re in your 30s, the decline ticks up. That doesn’t mean you should rush a pregnancy, but it’s valuable information to understand. That’s especially true if you decide to pursue something like egg freezing, when it’s particularly important to bump up egg quality first.

And speaking of egg quality, it’s worth knowing that’s something you can support with key nutrients and lifestyle choices. We have an entire blog post outlining five nutrients that studies link to improved egg quality (vitamins B6 and B12, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K2, to be specific). While it’s true that women have a finite amount of eggs, there’s a maturation process that’s roughly 90 daysprime time to make mindful changes to your diet and lifestyle to make them the healthiest you can.

Birth Control Zaps Nutrients

We’re fans of birth control, but there’s a side effect that doesn’t get nearly enough airtime. Birth control won’t damage your fertility—it’s designed to temporarily delay fertility to prevent pregnancy while you’re taking it. But it does deplete the body of specific nutrients, and the list is lengthy: folic acid, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and zinc (2). While the depletion is subtle, it can certainly accumulate over the years a woman takes hormonal birth control and may contribute to symptoms like chronic fatigue, a low threshold for activity, difficulty concentrating and moodiness.

The workaround? Take a prenatal vitamin at the same time. “Taking a high-quality and robust prenatal for at least three months before transitioning off of hormonal contraceptives is one of the best steps you can take to prevent post-birth control syndrome,” says Carly Hartwig, a holistic reproductive health advocate and fertility awareness educator through CLWC.

Healthy Habits Go A Long Way

Ovulatory health, egg quality and hormonal balance may not be top of mind in your 20s. Fortunately, the same habits that support your overall health will benefit these and all aspects of your fertility health. You already know that staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, eating antioxidant-rich foods, and limiting alcohol are good for you. Guess what? They’re good for your reproductive health, too. Consider it a great reason to stick with that fitness program and reach for more fruits and veggies. Your future self will thank you!

And while this is a post aimed at women, we'll go ahead and point out that men aren’t immune to thinking ahead if there’s a chance of parenthood in the distant future, either. Keeping tabs on nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight and seriously limiting habits like smoking, recreational drug use and alcohol consumption in your 20s can help support healthy sperm. According to Dr. Darren Bryk, andrology/male fertility fellow at the University of Virginia, “Anything a man can do to improve his overall health–eating healthy, staying active, avoiding cigarette smoking–can improve his fertility potential.”

It’s Never Too Early To Talk To Your Doctor About Fertility Health

A fertility conversation with your doctor may feel premature, but getting ahead of potential issues and understanding the landscape really can help you down the line. Fortunately, there seems to be more fertility awareness these days, with more people looking for information before they’re experiencing problems. At the very least, letting your doctor know that you want a baby someday gives you access to information that you may find really valuable (think: pairing that hormonal birth control with a great prenatal vitamin to sidestep those nutrient deficiencies). At-home fertility testing might be worthwhile as well. They can give you baseline information about fertility-related hormones, such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), which is a reflection of your ovarian reserve. While this kind of test won’t be able to tell you whether or not you can successfully conceive, you’ll have an idea of where you are and whether it’s considered normal for your age.

A Proactive Approach to Fertility

If you know you want a baby someday, or even if it’s just not a hard no, then your 20s are a time to be proactive about your fertility health. That starts with a basic understanding of a few things, or at the very least, knowing what you don’t know. If you’re on hormonal birth control and you understand that your cycle is artificial and you’re at risk of nutrient depletion, then you know that it’s wise to supplement with a high-quality prenatal vitamin and do your best to eat a balanced diet. You might also consider a proactive approach to your future fertility. Our new Preconception Boost is designed to support ovulation, balance hormones, promote cycle regularity and manage symptoms of both PMS and PCOS. Those are benefits in the here and now, and over the long term, the same nutrients help set you up for a future pregnancy.

Understanding the relationship between your fertility health and your overall health is nothing but an asset, putting you in the best position to embrace habits that support you in every way, cycle, hormones and egg quality included. As they say, knowledge is power, and the right information today can help you five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years down the road. We support all couples on the path to parenthood, and we understand that it can be a very long journey. Best to start planning now!

Article Resources

  1. Wesselink et al. (2016). Menstrual cycle characteristics and fecundability in a North American preconception cohort. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4964792/
  2. Palmery et al.  (2013). Oral contraceptives and changes in nutritional requirements. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23852908/

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Additional Resources

While PCOS can be a challenging condition to manage, natural supplements like inositol that are included in Beli Preconception Boost offer a beacon of hope. Inositol's ability to improve insulin sensitivity, hormone balance, and ovulatory function makes it a valuable tool in the PCOS management toolkit. 

Read More

The concern that hormonal contraception affects future fertility is making the rounds on social media again. But research continues to show that all that worry is for naught. While birth control doesn’t cause long-term fertility issues, it can mask them by creating an artificial cycle—something that’s important to understand.

Read More

While it’s lumped into the “bodily fluid” category, semen is a complex cocktail of compounds designed to support fertility. Like sperm quality, semen health can be influenced by lifestyle factors—an important realization for couples trying to conceive. From color to consistency, here’s what healthy semen looks like.

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There’s a lot of chatter when it comes to male masturbation and what it says about a man’s fertility or whether it’s an issue when a couple is actively trying to conceive. And in the interest of clearing up the confusion, we’re taking a facts-based approach to the topic of men, masturbation and fertility.

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We’re thrilled to introduce Beli Women Preconception, a complementary fertility supplement designed to support fertility health by promoting egg quality, supporting ovulation, balancing hormones, regulating your cycle and helping to manage symptoms of both PCOS and PMS.

Read More

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Raise your hand if you already know that you have a biological clock. From age 35 and beyond, there is a natural decline in testosterone and sperm quality. Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, sperm also tend to lose their "fitness" over the life cycle. But what does that mean—and does it really matter?

Read More

It’s an easy assumption, but you’re much better off thinking that every prenatal vitamin is wildly different in terms of composition, nutrient quality and, importantly, nutrient amount. Not only is that actually true, it puts you in the smart consumer mindset of understanding what matters in a prenatal vitamin—and why.

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Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg?

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Read More

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While it’s lumped into the “bodily fluid” category, semen is a complex cocktail of compounds designed to support fertility. Like sperm quality, semen health can be influenced by lifestyle factors—an important realization for couples trying to conceive. From color to consistency, here’s what healthy semen looks like.

Read More

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Read More

Raise your hand if you already know that you have a biological clock. From age 35 and beyond, there is a natural decline in testosterone and sperm quality. Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, sperm also tend to lose their "fitness" over the life cycle. But what does that mean—and does it really matter?

Read More

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Read More

Men really do benefit from specialized nutrition in the form of a prenatal vitamin that’s formulated to support sperm health. Here’s what that looks like, and how specific nutrients can impact a man’s fertility health before fatherhood.

Read More

Shilajit is finally getting the credit it’s due, and we’re proud to point out that our proprietary formula was the very first to include this powerful Ayurvedic compound. Here’s why shilajit is rapidly becoming the darling of the male fertility world–and what you’re missing if you’re skipping it.

Read More

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Read More

Just as women’s bodies need to be prepared for pregnancy, men’s bodies need to be ready to contribute healthy sperm for conception. Nutrients are the foundation that support the normal structure and function of sperm and men's fertility health. Taking Beli’s male prenatal supplement is a proactive way to strategically fuel your body to optimize fertility contributing to your overall chances of conceiving and supporting a healthy pregnancy.  

Read More

Diet has been suggested to have an influence on the quality and function of human sperm. More specifically, the results of a randomised trial have shown that including nuts as a component of a regular diet improved the quality and function of human sperm.

Read More

A shot to the balls may be played for laughs on screen, but testicular impacts really aren’t a joke. Worse case scenario, getting hit in the balls can affect fertility thanks to complications like sexual dysfunction, low testosterone and other issues. Let's discuss.

Read More

With the New Year upon us, there are all kinds of articles and videos making the rounds with predictions of the Zodiac signs most likely to get pregnant in 2024. But here at Beli, we take a much more scientific approach to conception. Here are the top eight things people will do to get pregnant in 2024.

Read More

Research shows that the overall health of both biological parents during the preconception window plays a huge role in everything from conception to pregnancy health to the lifetime health of their baby. Luckily, there are simple steps you can both take to improve your health together.

Read More

When it comes to becoming parents, good habits really will take you where you want to go. Now, new science is giving us insight into exactly how long it takes to form those good habits. We're breaking down all the ways you can build healthy habits to boost your chances of conception. Think of it as life-hacking, but for grown-ups.

Read More

Here at Beli, we’re working hard to raise awareness of the important role men play in the baby-making equation, which brings us to today’s topic of men’s preconception health and specifically, sperm health. Knowing what you’re working with can save you a lot of time, but is at-home sperm testing considered an important part of men’s preconception health? Let’s break it down.

Read More

There’s a certain magic to the holiday season, whether you’re all-in on the decorations and the family time or a self-proclaimed Scrooge from mid-November to the New Year. But when you’re trying to conceive, it can be a challenging time.  We’re sharing five tips for managing the holidays when you’re trying to conceive.

Read More

Everyone knows that alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. But what about before you’re pregnant, during the trying-to-conceive stage? There’s no evidence that the occasional drink—i.e. one or two a week—is going to torpedo your chances of parenthood. But it is true that the more you drink, the greater the likelihood it will have an effect on your health. Here’s what the research says about alcohol and your fertility.

Read More

You’re clear on the mechanics of making a baby, but how much do you really know about conception and fertility? There are a lot of wild stories, downright falsehoods and notions that are actually rooted in a kernel of truth out there. In the interest of sticking to the facts, we’re debunking 15 of the most common myths about conception and fertility.

Read More

When you’re knocking boots in an effort to get knocked up, timing is everything. Your best chance of conceiving is during the most fertile time of your menstrual cycle—when you ovulate. The key is figuring out exactly when that happens. Fortunately, you have a few ways of detecting ovulation. Here’s what to know about understanding ovulation and timing sex for pregnancy.

Read More

You have big plans for parenthood in 2024, which means this is the time to start laying the groundwork for everything to come. While so much of conception is beyond our control, there are actionable steps you and your partner can take right now to support and nourish your fertility.

Read More

Welcome to our little corner of common fertility and pregnancy terms! We know that jargon can be overwhelming, so consider this your very own baby-making dictionary. Here, confusing medical terms transform into easy-to-understand facts that help you confidently navigate your family planning journey. 

Read More

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Read More

Heard the one about ice baths and testosterone? Spoiler: there's little to no research behind that idea. Here’s what to know about cold plunges and male fertility, according to the research, plus where you should really focus your efforts if you’re trying to improve sperm health.

Read More

As a society, we’re an impatient bunch, and that applies to pregnancy, too. The second you decide it’s time to try for a baby, you’re ready to see those two pink lines. If you’ve recently tossed the birth control and you’re wondering how long it should take to get pregnant, here's what to know.

Read More

Jimmy Fallon. Hugh Jackman. Mark Zuckerberg. Keith Urban. Gordon Ramsey. Kyle Busch. Besides immediate name recognition, what else do these men have in common? They’ve all struggled with infertility issues—and it’s something they’re all talking about publicly. Here's why that matters.

Read More

While PCOS can be a challenging condition to manage, natural supplements like inositol that are included in Beli Preconception Boost offer a beacon of hope. Inositol's ability to improve insulin sensitivity, hormone balance, and ovulatory function makes it a valuable tool in the PCOS management toolkit. 

Read More

The concern that hormonal contraception affects future fertility is making the rounds on social media again. But research continues to show that all that worry is for naught. While birth control doesn’t cause long-term fertility issues, it can mask them by creating an artificial cycle—something that’s important to understand.

Read More

We’re thrilled to introduce Beli Women Preconception, a complementary fertility supplement designed to support fertility health by promoting egg quality, supporting ovulation, balancing hormones, regulating your cycle and helping to manage symptoms of both PCOS and PMS.

Read More

Once a month, PMS symptoms make their unpleasant presence known. And while knowing what’s happening won’t make PMS magically disappear, it can help you manage symptoms by balancing hormones and supporting your reproductive health. Let’s review.

Read More

It’s an easy assumption, but you’re much better off thinking that every prenatal vitamin is wildly different in terms of composition, nutrient quality and, importantly, nutrient amount. Not only is that actually true, it puts you in the smart consumer mindset of understanding what matters in a prenatal vitamin—and why.

Read More

If you have endometriosis, you can already recite its lengthy list of pretty terrible symptoms. And the standard options for managing those symptoms — medications, hormone therapy, hormonal birth control, estrogen blockers, surgery —  aren’t always great. But there is evidence that a so-called “endometriosis diet” can help.

Read More

With the New Year upon us, there are all kinds of articles and videos making the rounds with predictions of the Zodiac signs most likely to get pregnant in 2024. But here at Beli, we take a much more scientific approach to conception. Here are the top eight things people will do to get pregnant in 2024.

Read More

Research shows that the overall health of both biological parents during the preconception window plays a huge role in everything from conception to pregnancy health to the lifetime health of their baby. Luckily, there are simple steps you can both take to improve your health together.

Read More

Preparing for a baby means doing everything in your power to nourish your fertility health. If you’re totally on board but wondering what that actually means, we’re breaking down the do’s and don’ts for planning a pregnancy.

Read More

There’s a certain magic to the holiday season, whether you’re all-in on the decorations and the family time or a self-proclaimed Scrooge from mid-November to the New Year. But when you’re trying to conceive, it can be a challenging time.  We’re sharing five tips for managing the holidays when you’re trying to conceive.

Read More

Everyone knows that alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. But what about before you’re pregnant, during the trying-to-conceive stage? There’s no evidence that the occasional drink—i.e. one or two a week—is going to torpedo your chances of parenthood. But it is true that the more you drink, the greater the likelihood it will have an effect on your health. Here’s what the research says about alcohol and your fertility.

Read More

You’re clear on the mechanics of making a baby, but how much do you really know about conception and fertility? There are a lot of wild stories, downright falsehoods and notions that are actually rooted in a kernel of truth out there. In the interest of sticking to the facts, we’re debunking 15 of the most common myths about conception and fertility.

Read More

When you’re knocking boots in an effort to get knocked up, timing is everything. Your best chance of conceiving is during the most fertile time of your menstrual cycle—when you ovulate. The key is figuring out exactly when that happens. Fortunately, you have a few ways of detecting ovulation. Here’s what to know about understanding ovulation and timing sex for pregnancy.

Read More

You have big plans for parenthood in 2024, which means this is the time to start laying the groundwork for everything to come. While so much of conception is beyond our control, there are actionable steps you and your partner can take right now to support and nourish your fertility.

Read More

Welcome to our little corner of common fertility and pregnancy terms! We know that jargon can be overwhelming, so consider this your very own baby-making dictionary. Here, confusing medical terms transform into easy-to-understand facts that help you confidently navigate your family planning journey. 

Read More

Is there anything worse than the two-week wait? All the listicles out there sensibly advise keeping busy and journaling and talking it out, but we’re sharing more specific recommendations collected from the Beli community. Read on for seven tips for surviving the two-week wait without losing your mind.

Read More

As a society, we’re an impatient bunch, and that applies to pregnancy, too. The second you decide it’s time to try for a baby, you’re ready to see those two pink lines. If you’ve recently tossed the birth control and you’re wondering how long it should take to get pregnant, here's what to know.

Read More