If you’re ready for a baby, you’re in luck: the best time of year to boost your fertility is…right now.Summer is the ideal season for improving fertility and getting pregnant—and that’s not just folklore. The case for focusing on fertility during the summer months is backed by science.What makes summer so great for making babies? First, there’s more opportunity for your body to make vitamin D naturally (thanks to more sunshine), and vitamin D is the essential fertility nutrient. There’s also more opportunities to move in fertility-supportive ways during the summer. Plus, some of the key fertility-boosting foods are in season right now. There’s also the research that suggests that children conceived between June and August tend to weigh more at birth, and may have better health outcomes throughout their lives.Let’s dig into the science and see exactly why summer is so brilliant for boosting fertility.
The Science of Summer and Fertility
Here’s the case for boosting your fertility during the summer months:
- It’s easier to stock up on vitamin D. Vitamin D, which the skin synthesizes from sunlight, is absolutely essential if you are trying to conceive. It’s important to patch up all micronutrient gaps, of course, but getting enough D is the most critical when it comes to fertility.
Why?The reproductive tissue in both women and men have vitamin D receptors and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes. Animal studies have shown that, when those receptors are blocked, the animals experience abnormal development of the testes, ovaries, and uterus.In women with PCOS, which is one of the leading causes of infertility, healthy levels of vitamin D are associated with significantly higher pregnancy rates and improvement in embryo quality. Research shows that women undergoing IVF are “significantly more likely” to get pregnant with higher vitamin D levels.A sufficient supply of vitamin D, either through sunlight or supplementation, when trying to conceive and during pregnancy is important for preventing health risks for both mother and baby. Adequate vitamin D during gestation “favorably impacts the epigenome of the fetus, and in turn, long term health.” The same researchers note that there’s “urgency based on emerging research to correct [vitamin D] deficiency and maintain optimal vitamin D status” during pre-conception, conception, and gestation.Get Enough Vitamin D: The most important source of vitamin D is the sun, which is synthesized in the body when skin is exposed to sunlight—and there is no better time to get out in the sun than summer. In fact, in most areas of the northern hemisphere, the sun’s rays aren’t bright enough during winter to trigger vitamin D synthesis.So I recommend getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) each day during summer to boost and maintain vitamin D levels. If you’re worried about skin cancer, accelerated skin aging, and the benefits and dangers of sunscreen, I cover the topic in depth here.Even still, and for unknown reasons, many people are unable to make enough vitamin D in the summer to support overall health and fertility. For this reason, I recommend that women take a high-quality vitamin D supplement year round, in addition to getting outside for 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sunlight.
- Your immune system may be stronger in the summer. Robust immunity during the summer months may be a result of all that vitamin D, which helps modulate and support the immune system. The incidence of getting the flu goes down in the summer, too. Conception during flu season is correlated with shorter gestation time and that can have long-term consequences for babies.
Boost your immunity: Make sure to maximize all your micronutrients, not just vitamin D; prioritize sleep; and take stress management seriously. All these factors influence immunity. What’s more, stress sends messages to the body that it is not an ideal time to get pregnant, so this is an especially important factor in boosting fertility.
- The summer months provide more opportunity for lymph-supportive exercise. With its long days and warm weather, summer provides more opportunity for almost all types of movement. I recommend low-impact, lymph system-supportive movement for women who want to boost fertility.
Get moving: Spending five to 10 minutes jumping on a mini trampoline is great. So is skipping down the street (which is great for getting vitamin D, too). Any gentle, circulation-improving movement will support fertility.
- Guacamole tastes better in the summer. Okay, okay. Guacamole tastes good all year round, but the ingredients are in season during summer, so they’re fresh, delicious, and cheap(er). But, wait, you might be wondering, what does guacamole have to do with fertility? The answer is in the avocado. Avocados contain the exact type of fat you want to eat when you’re trying to conceive (and even when you’re not). A diet high in healthy fats is essential for boosting fertility.
Eat some avocado: Guac makes a great choice because the avocados are paired with other high-phytonutrients whole foods and inflammation-fighting herbs. But the truly important factor here is getting more avocados, so any way you eat them is just fine! Make a avocado-based tzatziki sauce to dip veggies in, eat mashed avocado on gluten-free toast, or cut an avocado in half, drizzle with salt and olive oil (which is also rich in the kind of fat you want to have) and it eat it with a spoon.
- It is cheaper and easier to make green green smoothies in summer. I recommend drinking green drinks year round, but these estrogen-balancing, liver-supporting drinks can be stuffed full of summer’s bountiful greens (which are cheaper because they are in season or, better yet, you can grow your own if you have a yard)—and they taste refreshing and cooling in the heat. A whole foods-based, primarily greens-filled smoothie supports fertility by helping eliminate used-up estrogen from the body and promoting healthy hormone balance.
Go green: One of the beautiful things about blending up a green drink is all the different variations you can make. Pull out your blender, grab some greens, and start mixing!
Fertility Challenges in the Summer
Summer IS the best season to boost fertility and get your body ready to conceive. But the season brings some fertility challenges, too.Sunscreen use goes up in the summer, as I mentioned, and many conventional sunscreens pose health risks to mother and baby. (For more on sunscreen safety, go here.) There’s also more exposure to herbicides and pesticides which end up on lawns, parks in suburban areas, and sprayed overhead, if you live in an agricultural area. The toxins in these products are especially hard on the body’s endocrine system, which regulates reproductive hormones.The summers also bring their fair share of heavy smog days. And the number of air quality alert (especially for us city dwellers) has gone up in recent years with the wildfires in Canada and out West. To protect yourself from these fertility-disrupting toxins and air particles, practice sun safety and avoid lawns and other garden areas that have been treated with chemicals. And when you return home, leave your shoes at the front door. Shoes come into contact with pesticides and herbicides that run off onto sidewalks or that linger in grassy spots, and when we wear our shoes at home, the chemicals get tracked through our house and leave us vulnerable to exposure.Pay attention to weather reports and air quality alerts and take precautions to avoid outdoor air on the heaviest smog days.Always remember that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!