sperm balloons

Do you need to save up sperm for fertility?

Zita says…

“We now know that up to 50 per cent of all cases of infertility are associated with a male factor. That figure surprises many, because through generations we’ve been lead to believe fertility is all about women but of course this is the case, it does take two to make a baby!

Many men discount the need for getting checked out via semen analysis mainly, I believe, out of fear. But burying your head in the sand will not make the problem go away, and it’s far better to be proactive.

One question I’m asked all the time is whether you need to ‘save up’ sperm for fertility, but the idea of this is a myth as it will die after a few days. Research shows that the more fresh the sperm, the better the quality.

Some couples try to ‘save up’ sperm for the ovulation period, and then barely have any sex at all through the month. Whilst it’s true that you’re most fertile during this time, you should still try to conceive every two or three days regularly throughout the month to maximise your chances. In fact, the fresher the sperm the healthier it is! The key thing for fertility is to make sure there is a good supply of fresh, healthy sperm at the ready.”

IVF client story

A client story – pregnant after failed cycles elsewhere…

Some of our client’s stories can be heartbreaking, and it means so much to us when we can help them become pregnant after many failed cycles. Here we share one of our client’s journeys…

4 years, 14 miscarriages, 3 rounds of IVF

“I’m a mum to 6 month old twins. After 4 years of trying and an agonising 14 miscarriages, I can finally say those words that I started to fear I may never have the privilege of saying: “I’m a mum.” Three simple words but life-changing to me. Becoming pregnant after failed cycles elsewhere is down to the Zita West clinic. My partner and I started trying when I was 35, so pretty late by fertility standards. I was fairly blasé when we had our first three miscarriages, each two months apart, pleased that at least I could get pregnant. But that early optimism was misplaced and soon the notion of a successful pregnancy became an ever more distant dream. And over the years the worst happened, we began to lose hope. Hope was the sustenance that had kept us going and with an ever-diminishing amount of that, we were beginning to despair. All women who have gone on this journey will know all too well the physical, mental and emotional toll it can have on us and our partner too but the loss of hope is a bit of a game changer. We underwent two rounds of IVF at another London fertility clinic, both times we saw a heartbeat, both times we lost the pregnancy.

Dream team

The team at Zita West, George Ndukwe in particular, gave us back our hope but most importantly gave us our babies too. For that I will be eternally grateful. George is kind, gentle and knowledgeable but he really listens and he hears you. His attentiveness meant that we had a successful live pregnancy with twins. He understood what I needed medically and emotionally and, in addition to a fairly comprehensive medical load, George worked flexibly to offer new medication and explore alternative avenues. As our previous fertility clinic kept us on a standard protocol, this approach from George again provided hope as it wasn’t just the same old, same old. Importantly, this gave us a timely lift when we were running low on stamina and resilience.

Holistic approach

In addition, I had a session with a nutritionist and had acupuncture from Zita and her team, the overall sense being that of a family taking a holistic approach at looking after every aspect of your health and well-being and I really did feel looked after and nurtured. Psychologically this approach really worked for me, as it was comforting and I felt safe. Every time I went to the ZW clinic, from the receptionists to the medical team, I felt welcomed and cared for, people always knew my name and knew what stage of treatment I was at and asked me about it and how I was doing. When it came to the egg collection, this took place a few streets away with Care London. My previous experience of egg collection was three silent men down at the business end waiting for the embryos to be brought in, my partner clutching my hand, me in stirrups sweating lots. At Care, there was more the atmosphere of a spa day, interestingly all women, but chatting about my nail varnish colour, flitting around and enjoying their job it seemed, they put me right at ease. Honestly, it was fun. One nurse called Sarah was so emotional when she rang to tell me the good news about my positive pregnancy test that I felt like I was on the phone to my sister, because she sounded like she was so emotionally invested in it all. Probably she was. I’ve shed a few tears writing this, remembering the tough bits, but I can honestly say that I really wouldn’t change a moment of it. And I do absolutely credit the team at Zita West for getting us here, the four of us. Again, for that I’ll be eternally grateful.”
boosting serotonin

Boosting serotonin for fertility

Your body is a wonderful cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones, all of them telling you how to behave and how to feel. While your life circumstances have a profound influence on the levels of these messengers in your system, what you eat affects them too. Boosting serotonin for fertility can help

Natural boost⠀

While some foods contain a little serotonin, studies suggest it is difficult to raise your levels in the brain simply by eating more of these foods partly because it is difficult for serotonin to cross the blood-brain barrier. However, one way we can naturally boost levels is to consume more foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is the building block for the production of serotonin.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
These foods include:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– eggs⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– walnuts⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– plums⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– bananas⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– kiwis⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– tomatoes⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– cheese⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– beans⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– turkey⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– seafood ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

In order to properly process tryptophan, though, and to turn it into serotonin, the body needs a helping hand in the form of carbohydrate. This helps the amino acids to cross the blood–brain barrier. Consuming a little slow releasing carbohydrate, for example oats, with a tryptophan-rich food, for example banana and nut butter, may be more effective. There’s more on the best type of carbohydrates to consume generally on pages 000–000.

Another way to increase levels of serotonin is to supplement your diet with 5-HTP. 5-HTP is the immediate precursor in the production of serotonin from tryptophan. Supplements of 5-HTP cross the blood–brain barrier more easily and can be an effective way of increasing levels of serotonin.

Other good mood nutrients

As well as 5-HTP and tryptophan, try to increase the following nutrients in your diet in a bid to keep your mood positive:

B-complex vitamins, especially vitamins B1 (thiamine), B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12, low levels of which have been linked to depression and low mood. The conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP can be inhibited by a deficiency of vitamin B6 or insufficient magnesium, so make sure you are getting enough of these nutrients.

Zinc is also needed for the production of feel-good neurotransmitters so include plenty of zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, seafood, fish and lean meat in your diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids have a role in the synthesis of serotonin and research suggests they can be helpful in boosting mood. They also help lower inflammation. Pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body cause greater production of enzymes that deplete tryptophan in the blood, which can result in serotonin deficiency in the brain and low mood.

A vitamin D insufficiency may contribute to general depression so make sure your levels are optimal.

Iron, which in low levels can lead to feelings of fatigue, poor cognitive function, apathy, irritability and sadness.

Check your thyroid function – low thyroid function has been linked to depression and low mood.

It’s important to say that we still need much more research on the delicate balance of macro- and micronutrients in the body and their effects on mood. So, while it’s important to boost all those tryptophan-rich foods and to make sure you’re eating plenty of carbohydrates, there’s certainly no need to become carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor. Instead focus on eating a balanced diet.