Can The weather really affect your fertility and the chances of your IVF working? We turned to Michalis Kyriakidis, MD, MSc, Gynecologist in Assisted Reproduction, Head of International Dpt & Deputy Scientific Director at the Embryolab Fertility Clinic to tell us whether or not the reports we have heard about IVF and the weather are true.
Sunny weather increases the success of IVF by 35 percent. True or false?
IVFB: Doctor Kyriakidis, we read a report that said that sunny weather increased the success of IVF by 35 percent, and that during the spring months, the neurons in the brain produce higher levels of gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH). Can you tell us if this is true?
Embryolab: Choosing the appropriate time for your treatment is an important decision for every couple as it can influence your results. Your final decision will depend on convenience, availability as well as your medical history. Spring and summer months as well as autumn in Mediterranean countries like Greece are very good candidates for a successful outcome and this could be explained physically. Longer time of daylight as well as moderate sun exposure have been associated to increased GnRH production which can normalise menstrual patterns of certain women and help with natural conception. Sun exposure during this period of time may induce the production of vitamin D, an important cog in the reproductive process. And keep in mind that naturally produced vitamin D may have a better bio-availability than supplements. Moreover, better sleep patterns during summer could be connected to increased levels of melatonin which is also very beneficial during your IVF. And do not forget, that a pleasant and stress-free environment during your summer holidays is the best addition to your treatment.
Fewer drugs are necessary for IVF during summer months? True or false?
IVFB: Is it true or false that fewer drugs are necessary for IVF during summer months? We ask following research conducted by the Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Countess of Chester Hospital on 2709. The research showed that those who underwent their IVF treatment during the summer months required fewer drugs to stimulate ovulation 2. These patients were two-times as likely to become pregnant at the end of one IVF cycle between April and September. Around 20% of the women conceived during the summer months as compared to only 15% of the patients between October and March.
Embryolab: Your doctor will need to decide on the appropriate form of treatment and the means and medication that you use. But what if you could give yourself a boost by simply enjoying the sun for a few minutes. As you already know sun exposure will induce the production of vitamin D. This increase of vitamin D levels will improve FSH sensitivity of your follicles which in order will improve your response to stimulating drugs during the treatment. Furthermore, it will improve insulin resistance and steroidogenesis (which is the production of estrogen in your body!) but also modulate androgen activity. All these features may contribute to a better reaction to fewer drugs!!
Sunlight produces more melatonin to prime female fertility. True or false?
IVFB: According to research by Dr. Simon Woodore, sunlight produces more melatonin to prime female fertility. Is this true?
Embryolab: Melatonin is a hormone that is produced during sleep and can certainly determine the sleep-wake pattern. But its properties may go slightly to the point of regulating and priming women’s fertility. This hormone is considered a broad-spectrum and very potent anti-oxidant. It is basically a very effective ROS scavenger that reduces the oxidative stress in your body caused by environmental factors as well bad diet and smoking. This action may improve oocyte quality by preserving mitochondrial and metabolic function. Good quality embryos can bring you closer to a better IVF outcome. In addition, melatonin reduces the chance of luteal phase defects and the risk of pregnancy complications. Simply, summer and healthy, stress-free sleep pattern can make a difference in your treatment.
Natural sunlight produces more oestrogen. True or false?
IVFB: According to research by Dr Braga, IVF cycles during months of March to September show higher success rates. Spring-time and summer-time fertilization rates (via IVF) are almost 1.5-times that of winter fertilization rates (via IVF). Is this true?
Embryolab: Modern living and working conditions have limited our exposure to natural sunlight. Over the years, we have learned the importance of sunlight in reproductive medicine. One of the mechanisms that natural light improves fertility is the regulation of estrogen production. Sure enough, sunlight will improve steroidogenesis to ensure the optimal estrogen level. This in turn will help the implantation process. But what you may not know is that sunlight, through the induction of vitamin D production, could improve oocyte function and increase fertilization rates. This sounds like a good deal. Introduce the sun into your home and work space to increase you IVF success rates!
Sunbathing whilst undergoing IVF
IVFB: Can you sunbathe after embryo transfer?
Embryolab: The answer is simple. Of course, you can sunbathe after your embryo-transfer but in moderation and certainly taking precautions. Try to avoid the very hot hours of the day, do not exceed 10 minutes of direct sunlight and certainly keep hydrated. Sunbathing can be a very useful tool when used wisely!
IVFB: Can you use sun cream whilst undergoing IVF?
Embryolab: The answer is straightforward in this case. Sun-cream will protect you from the negative effect of sunlight after extended exposure. It is actually recommended during summer-time to keep you safe in the long-term from skin cancer related to melanoma. You certainly can use sun-screen cream on a daily basis during your treatment. However, avoid using any sort of cream or body lotion on the day of your embryo-transfer as odors or volatile materials in ointments and creams may be toxic to the embryos while they are transferred from the laboratory.
IVFB: Is heat/sunbathing in hot temperatures bad for sperm?
Embryolab: Extreme temperature can be harmful to the sperm. This applies to both ends of the spectrum. Spermatogenesis requires a specific range of temperature to work and this is close and slightly lower than the temperature of the human body. So try to avoid extended periods of sunbathing that could increase your core temperature. In simple terms, keep cool and the sperm will get better!
If you have any questions about anything you have read in this article, please do drop Dr Michalis Kyriakidis a line at Embryolab Fertility Clinic.
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