TTC and need an excuse for a weekend getaway to a sunny spot? We've got one for you! Spending time in the sun may be a fertility booster.
Does this explain why so many couples who go off on a romantic vacation for two in the tropics come back with a baby on board? According to research from Austria, fertility in both men and women may get a boost from vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin," that's produced in the skin through direct exposure to sunlight.
But how much of a boost? In women, researchers found that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D helps to balance sex hormones and regulate ovulation by increasing levels of progesterone and estrogen. In men with low levels of vitamin D, taking in more of the nutrient increased sperm count and improved sperm quality and testosterone levels.
And that's not all! Vitamin D levels could also explain why in some northern countries it may be easier to become pregnant during the sunny summer months. In a study of 2,300 men living in northern Europe, researchers found that levels of testosterone and vitamin D peaked in the summer months and were at their lowest in March, after the winter. Women were also found to ovulate less in the winter months, lowering their chances of becoming pregnant.
Some sun can be a good thing, but lead researcher Dr. Elisabeth Lerchbaum reminds couples eager to do anything they can to improve their conception odds that overexposure to sun can lead to skin cancer. "People could either spend more time outside in the sun—or they could take vitamin D supplements, which are a safe and cheap way to increase levels," Dr. Lerchbaum advises. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin D are another way to give vitamin levels a lift.