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Sunday, March 18, 2018

SPRING: NEW LIFE, ENHANCED FERTILITY

Pregnancy Over 40, Spring and Fertility

Since spring is coming this week and, along with it (at least where I live), some very nice weather, I thought I'd share an article that connects spring with everything from elevated moods to increased fertility. Read more:

Scientists know that when seasons change, the retina — the part of the eye connected to the brain by the optic nerve — naturally reacts to variations in the amount of daylight. This triggers hormonal changes.

Particularly important is the adjustment in melatonin, a hormone that affects our mood and how we sleep. As a result of light changes, the body naturally produces less melatonin during spring, causing a lift in mood, a reduced desire to sleep, an increase in sexual appetite and a need to eat less.

SEE ALSO: BEE POLLEN FOR FERTILITY (getpregnantover40.com)

New findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, by researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school, have also proved that activity levels rise as the days get longer. After analysing the exercise habits and food intakes of almost 600 men and women over a year, Professor Yunsheng Ma found that most subjects gained up to 2lb (1kg) in winter; they ate lots of carbohydrate and exercised little. Come spring, however, activity levels soared and calorie intake dropped. It seemed that the only reason for this was the change in season.

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This is partly a psychological effect but also physical. Evolutionary biologists believe that our bodies are programmed to be more active as the hormone mix changes with more light. Released from the chemical messages that make us withdraw in winter, the body feels energised, ready to hunt for food and to give birth.

Spring is also the time, supposedly, when a young man’s thoughts turn to sex. And it is true that men are more fertile at this time of year than any other. Ironically, though, this is because levels of actual sexual activity seem to drop in spring. The less sex men have, the more they save up their sperm and the greater their sperm count when they do have sex.

Professor Michael Smolensky, a chronobiologist from the University of Texas specialising in the relationship of biology to the rhythms of hours, days and months, says that statistics indicate that sexual activity in human beings is much greater in autumn,. “When we look at couples who have kept sex diaries and single males who have kept their own data, sexual activity is rather low in spring,” Smolensky says.

This fits with studies that have shown conclusively that levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, are higher in late summer and early autumn than spring, so that’s when men have the greatest sex drive and when conception rates are high.

But sperm counts do peak in March, April and May. Smolensky says: “In sexually active males, sperm count is affected by two factors, environmental temperature and sexual activity. When men are sexually active, sperm count goes down; when they’re not sexually active, they’re not using it, so it goes up.” That could explain Smolensky’s findings that there are more unplanned babies conceived during spring than any other time of year. There are more sperm around, so despite less sex, one’s more likely to hit the mark.

Spring not only improves our mood and energy levels, it can protect our teeth and bones. On the first few sunny days of spring many people feel the urge to take off those winter togs and do a bit of prancing in the sunshine. This is in response to the fact that for several months our bodies have been starved of vitamin D, essential for healthy bones and teeth. And we make it only when our skins are exposed to sunlight. We’re craving a top-up. 
  (www.timesonline.co.uk)

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