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Friday, July 03, 2020

Pregnancy myth vs fact: Does IVF yield better results in summers?

'It is because of more sunlight and vitamin D and, therefore, better fertility. Sunlight is associated with happiness, which in turn is associated with less stress.'

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi | Published: June 4, 2020 4:17:54 pm
IVF treatment, what couples should know before their IVF treatment, IVF treatment in summers, parenting, indian express, indian express news ‘Patients should know that there is no vacation for an IVF cycle, they can be done at any point.’ (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a couple’s life. They want to make sure they plan it right, visit the best doctors and have their baby delivered in a comfortable and safe space. Sometimes, when conception does not happen naturally, they look for other means of having babies, with IVF or in-vitro fertilisation as the most common alternative.

IVF requires the mother to make changes in her lifestyle, so she prepares the body for welcoming the embryo. She needs to eat well, stress less and sleep on time, besides working on her physical and mental fitness. There may be some questions that may cross one’s mind, with regards to an IVF procedure and its success rate.

Some western researches conducted in the past have suggested that besides the internal well-being of the mother, external factors affect the success rate, too. And that prevailing seasons may play a role in making sure the procedure is a success. The summer season, particularly, is believed to work in favour of the IVF procedure. Is there any truth to it? Or is it just a pregnancy myth? To find out, indianexpress.com reached out to two experts, and here is what they said.

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“Indian patients mostly believe that summers are not good for IVF and the success rate is low. To an extent, the notion is created by some doctors, because in summers, there used to be electricity cuts in many towns. And there would be a lack of infrastructure to work as a backup. In terms of the available literature, vitamin D has an influence on fertility. It has been found that the egg quality is better when the vitamin D levels are higher. A study conducted in the past found that the follicles which were of good quality had more vitamin D in them than those which weren’t. Thus, a correlation was established,” commented Dr Nitiz Murdia, the Marketing Director of Indira IVF.

Dr Murdia said the other factor to be considered is melatonin. “In summers, sunlight falls on the skin and you have higher levels of melatonin in your body. It is a sleep regulator, and it also affects the tissues of reproductive hormones. Around the world, where the winter months are gloomy, people go through depression in the absence of sunlight. But, their mood is much better in summers, because the sun is visible. Quality of sleep is better in summers, too. You are more stress-free, as compared to winters. Stress is something that greatly affects the fertility potential,” he explained.

Dr Murdia further said that there have been reports that some couples in India who had scheduled IVF treatments and could not pursue them due to the corona crisis, had conceived naturally. “I think it is because the stress levels have gone down; people are working from home. We were doing IVF all through the year, and to check if this higher success rate in summers is a fact or myth, we checked our own records, and found that there wasn’t any variation in summers, winters or monsoons. In fact, in summers, we had a marginal increase in the success rate,” he remarked.

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Dr Radhika Sheth, Fertility Expert at the Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Mumbai, is of the opinion that the research papers which claim this, belong to the West. “It is because of more sunlight and vitamin D and, therefore, better fertility. Sunlight is associated with happiness, which in turn is associated with less stress, which is ultimately associated with a better fertility outcome. There could be some truth to these claims, provided the summers are not too extreme. Patients should know that there is no vacation for an IVF cycle, it can be done at any point. The patient has to first see her convenience and other medical points that take priority. They should not put off doing IVF cycles in summers, or any other particular season, unless they have good reasons to do so; like in monsoons, people avoid it because of feasibility,” she said.

Dr Sheth explained that the procedure is temperature-controlled when it is done inside the lab. Whether it is raining outside, or snowing, it does not matter, she said. “The IVF lab temperature is generally maintained at 24 degrees Celsius, irrespective of the condition outside. The temperature and the pH is always monitored; it is a prerequisite,” she added.

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