Can hot weather affect fertility? 5 tips for a summer two week wait

Jessie Day  |   14 Jul 2022

TTC heat concerns – the hot weather action plan we swear by

Sunshine equals a Vitamin D boost, holidays and more time outdoors. But heatwaves are something else altogether, and research has shown a connection between infertility and TTC heat concerns, from hot weather exposure to dynamic shifts in temperature. 

Plus, we’re all about taking everyday steps to improve the TTC journey and success rates. From getting the sun’s natural benefits (hello again, Vitamin D) to staying hydrated across the two week wait, and for those all-important blood tests, here’s a quick-start guide to heatwaves, fertility and keeping your TTC plan on track. 

We’ll cover:

  1. Recent research on heatwaves and fertility
  2. Keeping cool, and why
  3. Vitamin D exposure
  4. Staying hydrated
  5. Avoiding heat exhaustion
  6. Keeping next of kin on speed-dial

Heatwaves, fertility and what the science says

We all know the studies on heat, and its impact on sperm health. Men have been encouraged for years now to avoid tight underwear, laptops on the crotch area and over-use of hot tubs. 

But heat waves are different. They’re unavoidable in many cases, and something we’re more passively exposed to. We can choose to wear looser underwear and skip the hot tub on vacation. But we can’t avoid a heatwave quite so easily. 

Research published in 2018 shows that heatwaves ‘reduce male fertility and sperm competitiveness’. More specifically, it seems that this kind of dynamic heat shift can undermine sperm production, viability, and the way it travels through a woman. 

With the UK caught in a heatwave right now, and temperature records tumbling in the USA, we’re thinking about the impact on our day-to-day fertility. It makes sense to have a plan in place, whether you’re in the two week wait, early stages of pregnancy or undergoing treatment. 

Here are our top tips for fertility in a heatwave:

1. Keep cool, where possible

Aside from the science we’ve covered above, hot temperatures can cause stress and discomfort you just don’t need. Whether you’re trying to conceive naturally, undergoing fertility treatments, in the two week wait, or the very early stages of pregnancy, keeping cool, calm and as stress-free as possible is important. 

Plan to avoid a baking hot commute, where you can, especially on crowded public transport. Buses and subways/underground travel can be a nightmare at the best of times, and you may not have access to a seat, water or quick assistance if you need it. 

Avoid overdoing it (from exercise to your general routine), carry a cold drink, wear loose-fitting clothes, opt for air-conditioned or naturally cool spaces and plan your day around the heat. Air temperatures are at their hottest between 11am and 5pm. 

2. Be smart with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is crucial for optimized fertility. The best-known way to boost our levels is through sunlight exposure and, depending on where you live, this tactic will vary. Spending just 20 minutes a day in the sun, with skin exposed for maximum benefit, can help you stay topped up. 

But in reality, most of us are still deficient in this important fertility micronutrient. And when the sun is really at its hottest, intentional direct exposure can do more harm than good. 

So get passive exposure as you go about your day, spend time in the sun as long as you feel comfortable, but consider supplementing with a quality Vitamin D spray or capsule (we recommend choosing one which blends Vitamins D and K), and upping your Vitamin D-rich foods, too. These include oily fish, eggs and a few varieties of mushrooms, like morels.

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3. Stay hydrated

So important for whole-body health, we can’t stress this one enough. From boosting cervical fluid and prepping your body for blood tests, to keeping every system in your body functioning at its best, hydration is crucial. 

We lose a huge amount of water from our bodies during the heat, so even if you’re not thirsty, refill your glass (unless, of course, your doctor has advised you otherwise). Check the color of your pee, too. It should be straw-coloured or clear, not cloudy and definitely not dark.

Alcohol and caffeine can increase dehydration, so be mindful with what you’re drinking, and if you leave the house, carry a bottle of water.

Adding a few natural electrolytes to your drink (a sprinkle of sea salt, squeeze of lemon or some cucumber will do the trick), or opting for coconut water can help to level up what you’ve lost in the heat, through increased sweating, or general dehydration. 

A word on blood tests. Anyone undergoing fertility treatment or early pregnancy assessments will know that feeling of becoming a pin cushion. Blood tests are very much on the agenda, and hydration should be too. 

If you’re dehydrated, it’s more difficult for the nurse or lab technician to draw blood, and you’re more at risk from discomfort, feeling nauseous or even fainting. So get those fluid levels up.  

4. Avoid heat exhaustion

Heat stroke and exhaustion are no joke, especially in early pregnancy or the two week wait. A few heat exhaustion symptoms can be confused with signs of early pregnancy, from dizziness and nausea to sweating, feeling clammy, raised pulse and thirst.

But heat exhaustion does tend to come with a few other symptoms less-associated with pregnancy, including confusion, cramps in arms and legs, and a temperature above 100.4F or 38 degrees C. Thirst levels will also be much more intense. 

Avoid heat exhaustion at all costs, by actioning the tips we’ve covered above. And if it does happen, the priority will be to cool and lie down with your feet up, drinking frequent small sips of water to rehydrate without shocking your body.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Know the symptoms (they’re different to heat exhaustion) and call 911 (USA) or 999 (UK), if it strikes.

5. Keep your next of kin on speed-dial

From heat exhaustion to heat stroke, or just feeling dizzy on the tube or subway, whilst it’s hot, keep your partner, or a trusted friend or family member on call. 

Fertility treatments, the two week wait and early pregnancy can be challenging to navigate (not always, but often), and you’ll want your support network on hand to help, if you feel unwell or anxious. 

We recommend letting someone know if you’re about to start a tricky commute, so they can check that you’ve arrived safely. The same goes for appointments like blood tests or fertility treatments – if you’re going alone, make sure your next of kin are prepped to check in. 

Want more reads for your summer? Bookmark these summer intimate health tips, and expert pointers for a fertility-friendly summer

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