Did you know that getting enough sunshine can increase your fertility? Not only that, but it can actually increase your chances of IVF success if you get more sunshine the month before fresh transfer! What are you waiting for? If you are trying to conceive, or are an infertility warrior, it is time to get outside and enjoy some warm rays!
What does the research say about sunshine and fertility?
There are a number of studies that find a link between sunshine and fertility, but the coolest by far is one done by Belgian researchers and published in 2016 that looked at the impact of weather conditions one month prior to IVF. They analyzed 9,800 fresh IVF cycles and found that there was a clear relationship between the live birth rate and the amount of sunshine hours about a month before transfer. This means in places where they had rainy weather, they had fewer live births as a result of these IVF transfers.
The worst results were when there was 2 hours a day or less of sunshine. When there was twice as much sunshine, live births were boosted by one third.
Interestingly, the researchers extrapolate that many other external factors that happen one month before transfer/natural conception are likely to be important for egg health. One more reason to commit EARLY to your fertility diet, eliminating toxins, and fertility mind-body routine!
Why does sunshine boost fertility?
While no one is exactly sure there are two main theories:
Vitamin D – Vitamin D is produced by sunshine, and the more sun people get, the higher the Vitamin D levels in their blood. Some studies have suggested that Vitamin D is related to egg quality, and we know for sure that Vitamin D deficiencies have been related to infertility. Thus, increased sunshine, increased Vitamin D, increased fertility.
Melatonin– Melatonin is a hormone that helps us get to sleep at night when it is dark. The hormone is managed by light exposure, or the lack there of it, and affects fertility by stimulating the ovaries to produce follicles that will create eggs. Sometimes doctors actually prescribe Melatonin during an IVF cycle to boost a woman’s egg quality. It is thought that perhaps the added sun during the day make the Melatonin hormone production more robust. Thus, increased sunshine, increased Melatonin, increased fertility.
My Happiness Theory– Sunshine makes you happy! Sunshine just makes you smile. It lets you get outside, walk, garden, hold hands while listening to the birds, and just feel good about life. It makes YOU feel fertile. Sunshine also makes the earth fertile, and I don’t think plants have to worry about Vitamin D or melatonin. Thus, increased sunshine, increased happiness, increased fertility!
When do you need to go outside?
The study showed that sunshine made the most difference if it occurred about one month before the start of ovarian stimulation, so right around when eggs are beginning to generate. This means that the sunshine you are getting at the beginning of THIS cycle could impact your egg quality NEXT cycle. If you are trying naturally, this means you should hope for sunny weather, and get out and enjoy it when it comes – no matter what month it is!
Unfortunately this might mean that when your mother suggests you go take a beach vacation to get pregnant she might be right! Spending a week in a location with lots of sun and little rain COULD actually boost your chances for the next month. Don’t tell you mom or other relatives they might be right though! And you are still allowed to be irritated with them for suggesting it :-).
How much sunshine do you need?
Dermatologists suggest all you really need is 10-20 minutes of uncovered sun exposure to get your full dose of Vitamin D. After that you are advised to seek indirect sunlight (i.e. shade), cover up with clothing, sunglasses, and non-toxic sunscreen. Read my post here on great non-toxic sunscreen options! Honestly, I think that just being outside will get you what you need. Go on a walk, garden, sit and drink your coffee while outside. You don’t have to have the sun baking down on you, just being outside (even in the shade) while its sunny is going to give you the hormone- and happiness- boost.
What are you waiting for? Go enjoy the sun!