Growing up, I can’t remember hearing much about fertility. From what I do remember, I sure didn’t know much about it or how it related to my body. I was told bits about bleeding once a month and that it had some connection with the ability to have a baby, how to use a pad or tampon, and some aspects of how a baby is conceived. This education happened at the onset of puberty and was left at that until my later teens. At that point, conversations were primarily about how to suppress fertility, with an education around contraception. You might have a similar story. It wasn’t until I learned about Fertility Awareness Methods that I received the full picture of these amazing and complex designs. 

As an encouragement, I would like to propose three main ways you can help your teen care for their fertility.

Nutrition and Exercise:

Firstly, we need to understand that our fertility is a sign that the rest of the body is healthy and working well; infertility usually means the opposite. In order to protect our fertility now, and especially for the future, we need to take care of our bodies during adolescence when fertility, hormone levels and body structures are developing. 

Nutrition is a main factor. As adolescence sets in, teens are very interested in food, and the temptation to eat highly processed and saturated fats is also very attractive. A high green vegetable and protein diet helps hormone development and stability, which affects skin, moods, menstrual cycles, metabolism, to name a few. Drinking lots of water and lessening sugar are also key. 

Exercise is important, however, in excess, this can have the opposite effect. Boys’ and girls’ exercise needs are quite different during adolescence. Boys need exercise that helps them build muscle and coordination; this is so their body can respond to the testosterone produced, and build strong interior structures that will aid hormone stability and sperm production. Girls, on the other hand, respond differently to exercise during adolescence. Where a boy’s body will generally respond well to being pushed physically, a girl’s can shut down. Many girls who do too much exercise or the wrong kind can shut down their cycles, which is a sign that the body isn’t healthy, and often a sign of stress. Girls are also more prone to injury during menstruation (Martinez-Fortinuny et al., 2023). Medical professionals tend to recommend girls refraining from specialising in a sport during adolescence; instead they will often encourage them to ‘generalise’ their training, so that muscle development is agile and there is less risk of pelvic floor issues as life progresses (Bertelloni et al., 2006; Greydanus et al., 2010). 

Avoiding Harmful Substances:

Beyond diet and exercise, it is very important to understand that there are substances that can harm our fertility and its development for later in life. It’s good to have an understanding of the medications your adolescent might be taking to see if there are any side effects on the reproductive system. Anything hormonal can have flow-on effects, especially in this crucial period of development. Carcinogens like alcohol and nicotine can have an impact for men in particular (Aboulmaouahib et al., 2017).

The most obvious of harmful substances on an adolescent female are chemical contraceptives. Research shows how these synthetic hormones increase the risk of depression in teens (Skovlund et al., 2016) and chemical imbalances in the brain, (Sharma et al., 2020) as well as increasing the risk of infertility in some women or issues around conception later on (Odeblad, 1994; Wicha et al., 2022; Zaman, 2020). In addition, they also pose a risk to bone density (Bachrach, 2020). Because these chemicals work to shut the reproductive system down, other issues like Endometriosis or PCOS can go undetected and progress to critical stages. Ovulation is key for healthy female development, as we produce hormones at this time that we do not otherwise, and losing this in adolescent years can have serious consequences on our development. If your daughter has been recommended a pill for acne or to manage irregular bleeding or a reproductive disorder, please ask questions. For one of the best agencies to assist you on this journey see femmhealth.org

Managing Stress and Charting: 

One of the most beneficial strategies we can learn early in life is how to manage ourselves, particularly stress. Stress has many effects on our health, particularly our reproductive system. Women may find that, under stress, ovulation can cease as a self protection mechanism. Conversely, a man’s sperm count is also affected by stress. We are not just physical beings, and as we learn to emotionally regulate ourselves, we develop systems that protect our overall health. Self knowledge gives us tools to assist this, and for young women, knowing how to chart your cycle is highly beneficial. This does not mean she needs to learn how to postpone or achieve pregnancy, but rather, to use charting as an indicator of overall health. Through charting, she will learn what is normal for her, when her highs and lows are, how she can plan life around these to minimise stress and notice if her cycles change due to diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and more seriously if she has developed a reproductive disorder that needs attention. Learning this early in life helps women develop a reverence for themselves and others, a confidence to protect their health, and call others to do the same. Some studies have shown that girls who know their cycles can remedy health issues (Vigil et al., 2012). Other studies show teens having better interpersonal relationships and delaying sexual relationships (Copeland, 2021). Charting and Fertility Awareness Methods are, in my experience, valuable tools for young women to enhance their lives, protect their health and fertility at all stages.


For more on these topics and others I highly recommend The Natural Womanhood Podcast as we as mothers help our children protect their health, the gift of fertility and their future families.

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