According to the Office for National Statistics, the fertility rate in England and Wales has risen over the last decade, peaking in 2010 with the highest total fertility rate since 1973 (wowza!). We’re clearly doing something right, because birth rates have also increased by a whopping 18% in the last ten years.
We turned to Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health and author of best selling ‘Getting Pregnant Faster’ to learn more about little-known ways to boost our fertility.
Soak up that sun
“The latest research suggests that there is a link between sunbathing and fertility,” says Dr Glenville.
“It is all down to having good levels of vitamin D, which is manufactured through your skin in the presence of sunlight. Vitamin D helps to balance a woman’s immune system that is important in getting and staying pregnant. In order for a woman to stay pregnant, her immune system has to quieten down due to the fact that half the baby’s DNA is not hers. Normally, if the body detects something foreign it aims to expel it from the body. For some women, their immune systems do not quieten down and so they can’t get or stay pregnant. Vitamin D is also important for male fertility, as low levels of this nutrient is.”
Did you hear that, ladies? We’ve just found ourselves another reason to book those tickets to Fuerteventura.
Men: step away from the laptop
“Everyone thinks of not having hot baths or wearing tight underpants for men as it may affect sperm health. It’s production takes place at 32°C, which is lower than the body temperature at 37°C. The testes are on the outside of a man’s body to keep them cooler. As they get closer to the body (e.g. by sitting for long periods when driving or cycling) the sperm heats up which may reduce the count. However, a more surprising piece of research found that men using laptops on their laps was causing a problem with sperm health.”
Latte (has) to go
“Research has shown that women who are drinking too much coffee, (more than five cups a day) are more than half as likely to get pregnant as those women who don’t stop at Starbucks every morning,” –excuse us… what?! You’re telling us we have to ditch the Joe even before we’re actually pregant?
“According to the researchers, if you are trying to conceive, drinking this amount of coffee is just as bad as smoking! Other shocking research suggests, that having four cups of coffee (or energy drink) a day makes it 26% less likely that a woman will conceive. On top of that, drinking only 2 cups of coffee can increase risk of miscarriage by 25%.”
Forget child birth, this will be the hardest part.
*sits down, fans oneself, measures pulse*
“We are all aware of certain important nutrients, like zinc and folic acid that has to be taken during pregnancy. However, there is a new kid on the block, co-enzyme Q10. This vitamin-like substance, contained in nearly every cell of the body is crucial for energy production and normal carbohydrate metabolism (the way the body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat in order to turn it into energy).”
Co-enzyme Q10 could be helpful in improving egg quality and raising chances to get pregnant. But it’s beneficial for men, as well:
“Due to its role in energy production, it’s a very important supplement for men whose sperms motility is poor. As Co-enzyme Q10 is concentrated in the area between the head and tail of the sperm, it provides the energy for movement in the sperm cell.”
Start poppin’ those pills, folks.
Get yours, girls
“Two British biologists, Robin Baker and Mark Bellis, investigated the ‘upsuck hypothesis’ and discovered that when a woman climaxes any time between a minute before to 45 minutes after her lover ejaculates, she retains significantly more sperm than she does after non-orgasmic sex. In addition, their research results indicated that the strong muscular contractions (associated with orgasm) create a partial vacuum, which helps to suck the sperm from the vagina to the cervix, where it’s in a better position to reach an egg. Evolutionary psychologists are suggesting that in the past orgasm could have served a purpose – unconsciously – in favouring the man that a woman wants to father her child. So the woman would have an orgasm with one man who she would like to have children with and not another. But it is important to remember that a woman does not necessarily need to have an orgasm in order to conceive. So do not beat yourself up if you do not have one every time you have intercourse.”
“Don’t wrap food in cling film – use paper instead. Immediately remove cling film wrap from any food you buy and transfer it to a bag container. Studies have raised questions about the safety of cling film made of a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) may interfere with our hormonal system and decrease chances of getting pregnant.”
There are lots of rumours and myths surrounding fertility. Most of us are already aware that women should stop smoking—women who smoke 20 cigarettes a day experience the menopause on average two years earlier—and take supplements such as folic acid if they are trying to get pregnant. However, who would have thought that wrapping your lunch in a paper bag could make a difference?
If you’d like to know more, you’re in luck. Dr Glenville has joined forces with luxury health spa Champneys to deliver a series of women’s wellbeing weekends this year. These very special one and two day retreats are led by Dr Glenville herself and offer natural solutions and insight into four significant female health issues. Not to mention that each retreat includes full use of all facilities, nutritious meals and a thalassotherapy session. If we have to give up coffee, we better get at least a massage out of it…
Visit Champneys.com for booking and more information.