Fertility Fit for Summer
It’s that gorgeous time of year (my favorite season) when the days feel longer, the bluebells are lining the hills and the sun, is well and truly OUT, yay. Many people feel the need to spring clean their home. But why not spring clean your body with my fertility tips.
The following tips can help you to get Fertility fit for summer:
- Reduce/ quit alcohol
- Clean up your judgemental thinking
- Banish the evil white stuff (sugar)
- Ditch the screens and make more space in your life for a baby
Drinking too much reduces your chances of falling pregnant
“Many studies have shown that even drinking lightly can have an effect on fertility.” These include a study that showed drinking between one and five drinks a week can reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving. 10 drinks or more decreases the likelihood of conception even further1.
Heavy drinking is associated with an increased risk of ovulation disorders. Drinking more than 6 drinks on one occasion can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, small birth weight and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Drinking alcohol may also lead to gaining weight, depending on how much you’re drinking which can negatively impact fertility.
For men, drinking alcohol can affect the quality of their sperm. Heavy drinking can cause impotence, reduce their sex drive and their sexual performance.
If you can’t quite quit the booze completely, my fertility tip is to try having 3-4 alcohol free days a week and never having more than 2 drinks in one sitting. Also, always making sure you drink with food.
Give yourself a judgment detox
Thinking critical or judgemental thoughts trains your mind towards the negative. This means that over time, you’ll develop a habit of looking for mistakes, imperfections, and problems in any situation. It’s easy to get into a negative mindset with the monthly disappointment of seeing your period each month. Try to catch sight of these negative thoughts because awareness of them is halfway to making a positive change.
Your physical health can suffer, too. Judgment can sap your physical energy, increase your stress levels and make it hard to sleep. Plus, if you’re nice to everyone except yourself, your inner critic is doing you no good. A recent study found a link between self-criticism and anxiety/depression.
My fertility tips:
Start by removing the source of your judgment. If you’re addicted to your phone, a social media detox can be helpful. Unfortunately, society places enormous value on social status. We can then use judgment to insulate ourselves from the pain of feeling inadequate.
So many couples feel the pressure of friends and family all around them starting families and moving on to that new stage in life.
Try practicing self-compassion. Imagine you are your best friend. You wouldn’t dare speak to a friend, the way you speak to yourself in your head. Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that as self-compassion rose, so did a person’s engagement with life and motivation.
Quit the white stuff for good
Why is sugar so bad for fertility?
Sugar causes inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can shut down hormone receptors making them unresponsive to hormone molecules entering the cells. This then stops them from doing their jobs which can lead to hormone imbalance and poor fertility.
High blood sugar levels are the leading cause of high testosterone in women and low testosterone in men.
High blood sugar levels can also contribute to oestrogen dominance which has a negative impact on fertility.
Experiencing hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia is stressful to the body because the adrenal glands are responsible for balancing the sugar highs and lows. Sugar is a stimulant and eating it when your adrenal glands are already tired just makes the problem worse.
The reason why it’s so hard to quit the white stuff is that its hugely addictive. Scientists have found that sugar stimulates the same pleasure centers in the brain as cocaine and heroin.
If you’ve had a lot of sugar repeatedly, over a few days in a row, your body gets into a cycle where it’s wired for sugar and it just demands you eat more. Hence the sugar cravings.
What to look for….
The problem is that sugar is hidden in so many foods, so it’s very easy to eat too much of it and not even realise. Most adults have eaten their sugar quota for the day by the time they’ve finished eating their breakfast. I recommend you start reading the back of your foods so you can identify how much-hidden sugar you are eating, here’s my fertility tips on what to look for:
- Products that contain less than 5g/ 100g sugar are classified as low sugar
- The daily limit for women is around 25g and 30g for men, so make sure you’re keeping within it through the day
- Do not calculate kcal, fats, carbs or proteins obsessively- as it will just confuse you more and increase food anxiety
- Ingredients on the list are listed by their volume in the product, so if sugar is in the first few ingredients, it’s the majority of that food item so I’d avoid it if you can
- Avoid anything that contains fructose that’s NOT fruit.
My fertility tips – to reduce your sugar cravings try adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet ie: sauerkraut, dill pickles, coconut yogurt, and kimchi. If you crave chocolate chances are you are magnesium deficient. Try making this healthy hot chocolate recipe
Also, try adding Epsom salts to your bath and use a magnesium oil spray directly on your skin when you get out of the shower.
Ditch your screens and create more time in your life
Exposure to blue light from your phone/tablet suppresses secretion of the hormone Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland that makes us feel sleepy. When it’s dark, the pineal gland excretes melatonin, causing us to sleep. Then, when it gets light, the pineal gland stops producing melatonin, signaling us to wake up. If we then bring artificial light into the picture (with our phone, TVs, or tablets, for example). We disrupt the usual signals controlling the pineal gland, and it can get confused about when it’s supposed to be giving us Melatonin. That then leads to restless sleep and even insomnia.
Melatonin improves Egg and sperm quality
Melatonin does more than making us feel sleepy: The hormone also protects women’s eggs from “oxidative stress,” according to Live Science. A 2014 study found that melatonin has “strong antioxidant properties” that safeguards the egg from “free-radical damage.” Artificial light signals to the pineal gland that it’s time to be awake and causes a decrease in melatonin production, which in turn leaves a woman’s egg with less protection than normal.
In an interview with Live Science, Russel J. Reiter, a professor of cellular biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, advised, “If women are trying to get pregnant, maintain at least eight hours of a dark period at night. The light-dark cycle should be regular from one day to the next; otherwise, a woman’s biological clock can get confused.”
Melatonin is an effective antioxidant and so it’s very important for male sperm too. This is because melatonin is able to directly intercept free radicals (toxins) inside the body and render them harmless.
Melatonin improves energy production also. On the one hand, the hormone Melatonin forms a defense against reactive oxygen species and combats free radicals by neutralising them. Melatonin also helps to build up healthy cells in the body and to support detoxification organs such as kidneys, liver, and skin. So boys, you need to ditch the screens at night too!
My Fertility tips to help reduce these negative impacts on your fertility:
- Use an app to track your phone usage
- Turn off notifications except calendar reminders and anything genuinely urgent.
- Avoid any screen use for at least an hour before bed
- Also, try giving your screen usage a mindfulness makeover, only using it when it actually serves a purpose rather than ‘just because’
- Charge your phone outside the bedroom so you can’t check it last thing at night or first thing in the morning triggering a stress response. Also, get an old fashioned alarm clock so you don’t need to use your phone as an alarm clock.