Seasonal sperm

New research from the United States has found that men produce better sperm in the spring and autumn, although the reasons for this remain unclear. A big study analysed sperm samples from more than 29,000 men over a period of 17 years, and found that there were more moving sperm in the spring and more normally-shaped sperm in the autumn.

The researchers, from Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai in New York presented their research at the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver. They have suggested that the milder weather might have something to do with this as the sperm will stay cool but men are likely to be more physically active and that they may be less likely to be drinking too much alcohol than in the summer or at Christmas. As it takes three months to produce sperm, it is not entirely clear what the causes may be – but the researchers make it clear that more research is needed to be able to confirm that their findings would have an impact on the chances of a successful pregnancy at different times of year.

Facts and headlines

120px-Sperm-eggSo another day, another “helpful” IVF headline. Today the Daily Mail tells us about the “£100 ‘condom’ that is £4,900 cheaper than IVF but just as effective”…

The only evidence to back up this suggestion are some figures which are apparently due to be released at the weekend claiming that 150  people have got pregnant who have used the device.

We learnt earlier this week that new figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority show the number of babies born after IVF treatment now stands at more than a quarter of a million. I am not quite sure how 150 pregnancies leads the Daily Mail to conclude that this device is equally effective to the 250,000 babies from IVF…

I won’t say any more but if you are thinking of spending £100 on this device, please discuss it with a fertility specialist first.

High levels of vitamin D supplements may reduce chances of conceiving

Schlitz_Sunshine_Vitamin_Beer_-_Wisconsin_Historical_Museum_-_DSC02832There’s often an assumption that vitamins can only ever be good for you, and more and more fertility patients are taking more and more supplements of all kinds of different vitamins. Now, a new study from Denmark suggests that taking high doses of vitamin D supplements may actually reduce the chances of getting pregnant.

This wasn’t a huge trial as fewer than 200 women took part, but they were all planning a pregnancy and all had low levels of vitamin D. They were given different doses of vitamin D supplement and some were given placebos. The researchers found that there was a significantly lower pregnancy rate among the women in the group given the higher vitamin D dose – for the lower dose, there wasn’t a marked difference. You can read more about the study here 

Can I test early?

images-1I know, I know – it’s tempting. The two-week wait after fertility treatment seems about six years long and you may spend a lot of time analysing every tiny twinge that you feel, or don’t feel, and trying to work out if it has any significance in terms of the outcome. So, the idea of doing a test a few days – or even a week – before you are meant can seem very attractive. And yet, it can end up making the rest of the wait even more difficult…

In the very early days of pregnancy, there are often no symptoms at all that you could notice and it may take a while for the hormone changes to be at the right levels to start to show up on a test.

I’ve heard so many people recently talking about testing early and they’ve either had a negative result, which may not mean that the treatment hasn’t worked but rather that they tested too early, or had a very slightly positive response and then spent hours peering at faint lines on the test kit before dashing off to purchase yet more to try to get a clearer result.

It really is worth waiting until the time indicated on your test kit if you possibly can. These do vary so check out which you can do earliest if you feel you really can’t wait `but do remember that testing early can sometimes lead to more questions and confusion rather than a definitive answer. .

How can I tell if I am pregnant?

120px-Pregnancy_test_resultWhen you’ve spent months or even years hoping that you might be pregnant, you probably know all you need to about the signs of early pregnancy – morning sickness, tingling breasts, nausea…   And if you’ve just done an IVF cycle, you’re probably looking out for any sign that your treatment may have worked.

Pregnancy symptoms during the two week wait

Women are often convinced that their treatment can’t possibly have worked because they don’t have any symptoms during the two week wait – but in reality it would be more unusual if you did have signs of pregnancy just days after conceiving. For most women who conceive naturally, they first suspect that they may be pregnant when their period is late – and for most women who conceive with IVF, it’s the pregnancy test that tells them that the treatment has been successful.

Testing for pregnancy early 

It can be tempting to test early, especially if you are driving yourself mad wondering whether you’re experiencing pregnancy symptoms, but it is always a good idea to wait until the end of the two week wait. If you test early, sometimes this means that you will get a negative result when you are in fact pregnant just because your hormone levels aren’t sufficiently high to be picked up by the test.

There’s no easy solution to the tensions of the two week wait, but one thing you certainly don’t need to worry about is not feeling pregnant as it really doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome at such an early stage.