The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a multitude of areas in society, one such area being the fertility industry, and specifically assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
In a recent HFEA survey, it was revealed that between 2020 - 2021, COVID-19 caused a delay in speaking with a GP for 10% of patients having treatment. For 28% of survey respondents, COVID-19 caused a delay to starting treatment.
In April 2020 fertility treatments were suspended and it was in May that some had approval to reopen. By November almost every UK private and NHS clinic had approval. Although eight months may not seem like much, in terms of fertility it can be.
Egg health declines the older a person gets
- By the age of 30 fertility begins to decline, which increases rapidly by mid-30s, and by 45 natural fertility is rare.
- People with wombs are born with a fixed number of eggs, meaning the older they get, the less eggs they have.
- Older eggs are more likely to develop abnormalities.
Sperm health is better the younger a person is
- Sperm motility (how active the sperm is) decreases over time.
- The amount of semen reduces as a person gets older.
- The quality of sperm reduces as a person ages.
Pregnancy in older people can introduce more risk
- Older pregnant people may be more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- Older people are more likely to require a caesarean section.
So, although there was only a period of a month where fertility treatment stopped altogether, and a period of 8 months where it partially stopped, this short period can make a difference.
Especially for people who are undergoing treatment who are more likely to be older than those trying naturally as they have gone through years of difficulty trying.
Time matters for fertility, and it’s great that there was such a quick progression to get safety measures back in place so that people could resume or start their treatment.
So, wondering how to help preserve egg and sperm health as you age? There are fantastic lifestyle measures that all patients can take, and our experts share a few of them here.
Lifestyle to support fertility health
- Aura Expert, Pilar Manzanaro, suggests;
“Plant foods are an amazing source of health-promoting proteins. Plant proteins including legumes, soy and nuts are high in phytosterols that can help lower cholesterol. Plant proteins also contain some amazing compounds called phytoestrogens that help balance oestrogen levels.”
- Aura Expert, Jonathan Ramsay, suggests;
“I urge patients to look at their lifestyle and moderate factors within their control to try to enhance the environment. This includes a healthy, balanced diet, moderate exercise, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption in a bid to boost fertility and reduce the chance of passing on conditions such as diabetes to offspring.”
- Aura Expert, Jodie Peacock, suggests;
“Working on improving your antioxidant capacity and mitochondrial function can have a significant positive impact on the healthy development of your eggs as well as improve the health of all your cells! There are many lifestyle and diet choices as well as supplementation that can help support your journey to becoming a mother to a healthy baby.”
Please consult a qualified healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
- Aura Expert, Ian Stones, suggests;
“Seeking acupuncture as support for an IVF cycle is a great idea but realising that the benefits are far greater and starting earlier will help with so many more factors and help set you up ahead of any fertility treatment.
We all know that stress is a major factor in fertility, or perhaps even the stress of getting stressed. Rocking up to an IVF cycle bedraggled from the years of trying and barrage of tests doesn’t really set you up for the best experience.
Working with someone over a period of months ahead of treatment will ensure you’re on track with your diet, sleep, exercise and emotional wellbeing. Regular treatment allows you to get on top of all the things that have been niggling or bothering you for months and it allows you to take control of your health where a lot of other parts of the process feel out of your control.”
The Aura platform offers step by step guidance and support to help enhance fertility health throughout cycles.
If you’d like to know about how your clinic can partner with Aura we’d love to speak to you!
Please get in touch.