Why do some diseases strike mainly in the spring? While others flourish in the fall? The answer may not be exactly what you think it is. We all know back-to-school- season, the Santa Ana winds or “cold” weather (in LA?) can kick up an increase in phlegm production, allergies and colds & flus, but what if our genes are better able to express illnesses during certain seasons? And what does this mean for you if you are TTC (trying to conceive) right now in September?
According to a recent study reported in the journal Nature, after studying 16,000 individuals, a lot. Not only do seasons influence gene activity, those that were associated with inflammation came occurred more often in the winter. Moreover, genes that suppressed inflammation were decreased during wintertime, leaving those with certain kinds of thyroid disorders, auto-immune imbalances, or inflammatory disorders little protection for the dark part of the year. Many of these issues can be underlying contributors to infertility or recurrent miscarriages. The studies were held all over the globe, and with both men and women, suggesting the weight of the research.
Other diseases that are seasonal? SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), certain kinds of heart diseases and diabetes, as well as inflammatory and autoimmune related diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis) or RA (rheumatoid arthritis), all of which can affect a woman’s hormones and her overall fertility.
Sunlight may be one reason why the seasons effect our health so much. Sunlight has an effect on cortisol and melatonin, effecting hormones, sleep patterns, stress levels and Vitamin D levels. Some experts recommend getting outside for at least 10 minutes a day during peak sunlight to encourage regular exposure and to encourage biorhythms and hormone patterns that will allow for ovulation. Temperature may be another factor. No matter what the cause, the evidence has made a profound impact, prompting scientists to look into how the seasons may affect drug metabolism or cognitive performance.
So with winter on its way, now is the time to prepare oneself for the upcoming changes in temperature, lack of sunlight and potential genetic shifts. Getting plenty of sleep and practicing sleep hygiene (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) is an important factor, along with wrangling in stress (highly associated with inflammation and certain genetic diseases) and eating well. If you suspect you have inflammation, time to start drinking ginger tea, reducing processed foods, and if possible, cutting out sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Increasing natural probiotics through raw, plain, full-fat yogurt, or cultured veggies like sauerkraut, can be helpful for some, in addition to activities that increase movement while reducing stress (like yoga, dancing or tai chi). “Winter” here we come.
If you have any questions about how inflammation may be effecting your fertility, or have questions about trying to conceive, please call us at Santa Monica Fertility. We are always happy to help.