Not only does having kids bring happiness to your life, giving birth may also help protect women against certain health conditions. But on the flip side, more pregnancies could increase your odds of developing other health issues. This is how getting pregnant can affect your health down the road.
Breast cancer - Research has shown that women who’ve had five or more kids have half the risk of breast cancer compared to women who’ve never given birth. It seems to be because periods stop during pregnancy, so you’re reducing your exposure to estrogen and progesterone while pregnant. Breastfeeding also changes breast cells in a way that makes them less likely to develop malignancies.
Ovarian cancer - The risk for ovarian cancer also goes down the more kids you give birth to, for the same reason as breast cancer: less exposure to reproductive hormones over a lifetime. Birth control pills and breastfeeding can also lower the risk of ovarian cancer.
Endometrial cancer - Having more pregnancies also lowers the risk for this cancer of the lining of the uterus and it’s also related to less hormone exposure from having fewer periods.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease - New research is coming out that suggests reproductive history can also influence your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study, women who had three or more kids showed a 12% lower risk of dementia than women who had one child. Another study shows your risk for Alzheimer’s goes down the more months you’re pregnant, possibly due to changes in your immune system when you’re expecting.
Obesity - But research shows that having more children can up your odds of being obese. In one study, the obesity rate in women shot up 11% with each successive child.
Heart disease - Here it’s not the pregnancy that affects your risk of heart disease, but complications during pregnancy can be a sign of future trouble. Research has shown that moms who have preterm deliveries, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes may be more likely to have cardiovascular disease later on.