2020 has been a long and fatiguing year with multiple National lockdowns due to Covid-19. Fertility patients have endured an incredibly stressful year as their plans have been turned upside down with fertility clinic closures. This climate has added uncertainty to an already difficult journey. It has been a tragic year for those who have lost family and friends but a difficult year for those trying to start a family or endured pregnancy loss alone and isolated.
Our new modern ways of working and socialising though means our lifestyles will probably never feel the same again. Fertility clinics have adapted wonderfully well in most cases to help keep patients plans alive. Finally as a vaccine is now on the horizon, we find ourselves hurtling into the season of excesses, merriment and trying to plan 2021.
Total Fertility want to help you a spring into the New Year feeling energised, optimistic and ready to plan the next steps of your fertility journey. Today is the 12th day of Christmas and here are our 12 Top Tips for optimising your fertility in 2021.
During the winter months we tend to be a lot less active as the nights draw in. The season of festivities usually result in waistbands expanding and weight gain. Obesity and increased fat stores is really unhelpful when trying to conceive for both men and women.
Smoking tobacco has repeatedly been shown in research studies to be both harmful to sperm, eggs and your fertility chances. So why not leave a bad habit behind as a difficult year comes to a close. Leave your smoking habit in 2020 and hit the ground running in 2021.
Lots of patients consider vaping to be safe but the reality is that we don’t have good evidence to support this and in fact some early research suggests that it could be harmful on male and female fertility. Find another hobby in 2021 and leave vaping behind.
Tis the season to be jolly, tra-la-la-la-la-la…la-la-la-la, but if you enjoy a drink stick to a moderate intake over the coming weeks. We all tend to over indulge at Christmas but alcohol is not good for eggs and sperm. Men should aim to drink no more that 5 units of alcohol each week when trying to conceive. If you are thinking of having a dry January remember on average you will drink more across the year. It takes several months for sperm to develop so bear this in mind if you are looking ahead to 2021.
- Vitamin D
The shorter and colder winter days in the UK mean we all tend to spend more time indoors at this time of year, as we see less sunlight. Vitamin D is an important vitamin converted in our skin. Sunlight exposure boosts the Vitamin D levels in our bodies. If you feel you are not getting out in the sunlight enough through the winter months then boost your Vitamin D levels with a supplement. Taking 10mcg Vitamin D each day will boost your levels and help with the baby’s bone formation.
- Folic acid
Folic acid supplementation is well known to reduce birth defects and it is important to supplement your diet with this when trying to conceive. If you are actively trying to conceive or thinking about trying soon it is recommended you take 400mcg folic acid. It is also good to try and increase your dietary sources of folic acid (broccoli, spinach and kale) and iron (eggs, lean red meat, dried beans and dried fruits).
- Avoid excess heat
There has been a lot of research showing that increased temperature is detrimental to the development of sperm in the testes. If you are going to spend the next few weeks/months indoors in central heating don’t forget to look after your testicular health. Avoiding hot baths, tight underwear and excessive heat to the testes will improve the sperm parameters.
- Regular sex
It is crucial to remember is to have sex. It sounds simple but modern life is busy and people are always looking for shortcuts. If you are struggling to conceive don’t plan things exactly to the hour, as you may miss the window if your body hormones are unreliable. If you have no issues with your eggs, sperm, tubes or ovulation then have regular sex through all menstrual cycles to succeed. If you have sex from the day after menstruation and every third day from there you will be maximising your chances that an egg will fertilise.
There are few really good research studies to suggest that stress is detrimental to our fertility. However, there is emerging evidence that this could in fact be the case. The stress hormone cortisol is a marker identified in higher levels in the bodies of stressed people. This is well known but has recently also been linked to worse fertility outcomes. However, there is no doubt that more research is needed to understand this important topic more clearly.
Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle means what exactly? What is the right amount of exercise to take when you are trying to conceive? Take a look at our pages on male and female fertility facts to understand better how exercise and diet can impact on your fertility chances.
- Male supplements
If you a healthy male with a normal body mass index but struggling to conceive perhaps you need to boost your already healthy diet with some supplements. There are many supplements on the market that can improve your sperm parameters so do look around. Take a look first though at our article on how to optimise your swimmers and all the necessary vitamin supplements your multivitamin should contain. If you feel like you may want to check your own fertility over the festive period you can do this with a simple home test kit.
- Female supplements
Improving your egg quality is not always easy. A simple pre-conception supplement will contain many of the vitamins and minerals that have been shown to improve fertility chances. If you want to delve deeper into the subject of what supplements can improve egg quality then take a look at our article on Eggs and supplements and unscrambling the evidence.
Total Fertility look forward to supporting you on the challenging road in the months ahead. We hope you have found our website useful this year and we will continue to search out the most up-to-date and useful resources to help you on your journey. Please continue to tell friends struggling to conceive about us.
Merry Christmas and we hope you all find success in 2021.