Winter fertility, unpacked
This article is sponsored by Fairhaven Health.
Different seasons call for tailored strategies, especially when we’re on a TTC journey. At FHH, we like to reassess every six months or so, looking at our lifestyle habits, supplement protocol and shopping lists. Right now, we’re busy shoring up for the cold and flu run, holiday season (hello, stress, sleep and gut health!) and making the most of fall’s amazing antioxidant-rich seasonal produce.
What’s on the list?
We’ve put together the ultimate TTC winter tool kit, packed with tips, team favorites, self-care strategies and targeted supplements to boost fertility. And speaking of supplements, we’ve collaborated with Fairhaven Health on this guide, giving you exclusive access to 15% off their entire range of fertility supplements this season. Just use code TRB15 at checkout.
With a Fairhaven Health product, you know you’re working with research-based formulations which use the highest quality ingredients. From methylfolate – the more bioavailable form of folic acid – to patented blends of micronutrients and antioxidants – all found in their bestseller prenatal FH PRO for Women, they’re just the thing for switching up your conception action plan.
1 Sleep support
Think hibernate, think you first. We’ll cover self care a bit further on, but sleep really is the forgotten vitamin in your TTC tool kit. Between seven to eight hours makes for better rates of fertility, according to The American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Try layering in a few tried-and tested, natural sleep support options and monitoring the improvements. Magnesium is a great place to start, for all-round sleep and relaxation support, plus cherry extract – which comes packed with melatonin. Passionflower is also a well-researched botanical for sleep support.
2 Nutrition focus
For winter fertility nutrition, we’re looking to focus on antioxidants – lots of nutrient-dense natural produce, packing a punch in our morning smoothies, warming soups and oatmeal toppings.
Take your pick of the following:
- dark chocolate (also rich in sleep-supporting magnesium)
- pecan nuts (and Brazil nuts, for a selenium boost)
- berries (especially blueberries, goji, cranberries and blackberries)
- herbs and spices (go for cilantro, cloves and cinnamon)
- greens like spinach, broccoli and kale
- artichokes, beetroot, and squash
- pomegranate (we love to work this in to our fall/winter smoothies)
Eat the rainbow where possible, aiming for a different focus color every day, plus around three cups of greens. It’s so easy to add a cup of fresh spinach in your smoothie, for example, or order that extra side of broccoli.
3 Vitamin D
Research consistently shows that Vitamin D is a key part of supporting healthy pregnancy, and fertility. Depletion has been linked in recent studies to increased risk of miscarriage, and with men and women across the globe struggling to get the right dosage from our best natural source – sunlight – supplementation can be an important puzzle piece.
Current guidelines recommend a supplement delivering 10-20 mcg for pregnant women, but in reality, and particularly for preconception support, a dose of 20-25 mcg (at least) is more ideal.
4 Keep an eye on stress
You don’t need us to tell you about stress. Or its impact on TTC. But with the holiday season upcoming and pace of life stepping up, here’s the FHH team’s tried-and-tested stress-busting essentials:
- exercise – whatever you fancy, but listen to your body
- restorative yoga (check out our expert tips for yoga during the two week wait)
- deep belly breathing – a few minutes a day does the trick to regulate the nervous system
- cut down on caffeine
- up the high-quality fats and proteins
- simple, one-pot meals on rotation (think soups, curries and stir-fries)
- holy basil (also known as tulsi, and a powerful anti-stress support)
- B vitamins (see below for a deep-dive)
Inositol plays a key role in all sorts of functions, and is a star player in our fertility tool kit. From egg to fetal health, we need inositol for healthy human development and longevity.
Inositol – look for the biologically-available form, known as ‘myo-inositol’ – is found naturally in different foods and botanicals, but many of us (men too) are deficient. So boost your intake with a fertility complex or targeted supplement – Fairhaven Health tick the box on daily requirements with the comprehensive FH PRO for Women prenatal.
Coenzyme Q10, also known as ‘ubiquinone’, works at the root of our basic cell functions, making it another key nutrient for fertility health. It’s also an antioxidant, supporting the body in tackling free radicals, cellular damage and oxidative stress.
Research shows CoQ10 has the potential to reverse deterioration of egg health, as well as providing dynamic boosts to sperm health and general male fertility. Great dietary sources include meats like beef and chicken, fish – go for herring and trout, and plant-based heroes are nuts, seeds and greens.
7 Self care
Beyond soaks in the tub, aromatherapy and pampering – what do we mean by self care? And why is it important for fertility?
Depending on your journey, and how long you’ve been trying to build your family, TTC can be exhausting. Putting yourself first is crucial, right now. For the FHH team, this involves:
- being realistic about how much you take on (at work and in your personal life)
- setting firm boundaries
- saying ‘no’ where you need to
- prioritizing the activities and commitments which fill you up
- and, building and leaning into your support network
Winter is the time to be kind to yourself, without apology. TTC can be tough, and you’re doing an amazing job.
8 B vitamins
As well as folate (Vitamin B9) – probably the best-known fertility nutrient – the B vitamin family includes key players in our nutritional web. Vitamin B12, for example, is required for forming DNA, and nurturing a healthy pregnancy.
A B Complex supplement will help pack in these vital nutrients, and support cellular function and energy levels – particularly important during the winter months, when we need an extra boost. Alongside supplements, get your Bs from meats, organ meats, fish, eggs and dairy produce.
It’s harder to get sufficient B vitamins from plant-based foods alone, so target this area of your diet with a good-quality supplement, and pack in leafy greens, nuts, seeds and nutritional yeast.
We’re settling into cold and flu season, and alongside the usual suspects – Vitamin C and D – zinc is a crucial immune system support. This is a time when we want the body’s natural defenses at tip-top condition – but did you know that zinc also has a big impact on hormonal balance? It’s also integral to egg maturation, and – more famously – sperm health.
When it comes to zinc, the key is having just the right levels at play. We need to optimize to support our immune system, while taking care not to over-supplement. Diet and a high quality prenatal for men and women will do the trick for most people, so focus on zinc-rich foods across fall and winter, like:
- oysters (just one provides over 5mg of zinc – half of our daily requirement)
- meats like lamb, beef, chicken and turkey
- cashews and pumpkin seeds
- yogurt and kefir