Christmas Sale Now On!
🎁View our festive offers here 🎁

🎁 Christmas Sale Now On! View our festive offers here 🎁

0
BLACK FRIDAY – Up to 50% Off Tests, Refills & Supplements

How to Navigate Infertility this Festive Season

 

The holidays can be a time of festive cheer – but if you’re struggling to conceive you might find it hard to feel merry and bright this December. Here’s our advice on navigating the triggers, relationships and emotions that the holidays can bring along with them.

Have open conversations with your partner

If you are finding this time of year difficult because your baby-making plans aren’t going the way you hoped, it might be tempting to put on a brave face for your partner. But the truth is that you can only truly support each other if you are honest about how you’re feeling. Being vulnerable and sharing what you’re going through will actually bring you closer and allow you to make a plan on how to get through the holidays – together.

If speaking about your emotions doesn’t come naturally to you, you could try writing a letter to your partner about what you’re struggling with, or maybe you could do a joint journaling activity where you both get your feelings out of your head and on to paper – then swap so you get an insight into each other’s emotional world. Whatever works for you, just make sure the only thing that’s getting bottled up this holiday season is the mulled wine.

Set boundaries and create traditions that aren’t connected to kids

Once you have spoken to your partner, part of your action plan might be to do activities that help you avoid or manage triggers. The holiday season is undoubtedly a time of year that puts a focus on children – which can be hard if you are struggling to have a baby. It’s impossible to avoid babies and children all together – at Christmas and in life! – but it’s ok for you and your partner to put boundaries in place so that you don’t have to put yourself in situations that make you feel sad or uncomfortable. This is your permission slip to say no to going to your niece’s Nativity play, or yes to having a quiet Christmas for two if that’s what you think would be most helpful.

This is also a time that you can work to create traditions that put the focus on you as a couple, rather than activities that are all about children. Whilst a dinner at a fancy restaurant or a relaxing spa day isn’t going to take away the pain of infertility, it might help to momentarily alleviate some of the tough feelings you’re dealing with and give you some much-needed quality time where you can be grateful for what you do have rather than focusing on what you don’t.

Talk to your family

So often, fertility journeys are shrouded in secrecy – and if you’re at the early stages of trying, it might be that you haven’t even shared that with your family and friends yet. However, if you are struggling and find that it’s taking its toll on your emotional well-being, it might be worth briefing those closest to you before you hunker down to spend the holidays together.

Firstly, this can stop well-meaning but intrusive (and sometimes insensitive) questions from being fired at you from across the dinner table. If your fertility journey isn’t going quite as planned, there is nothing worse than your great Aunt bugging you about when they can expect to hear the pitter-patter of little feet. Consider choosing some trusted family members to share the reality of your fertility journey with and ask them to disseminate that information to the wider group. Secondly, it also means that you will have a support network on hand if you are finding things hard and need someone to talk to that isn’t your partner.

Find a supportive community

Speaking of support networks – there are some incredible communities out there for men struggling with fertility. Whilst it’s important to connect with your friends, family and partner, there is something really special about finding a group of guys who know exactly what you’re going through – but who aren’t connected to your personal journey. Community is incredibly important throughout the year but can be especially helpful if you’re finding Christmas tough – whilst the rest of the world seems to be enjoying the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ it can be validating to connect with men who are also finding it hard.

Whether you want an anonymous online community or fancy meeting up in person, the male fertility space has grown and opened up over the last few years. There are now lots of places where you can find a community that works for you. As the first port of call, we would recommend checking out the Him Fertility support network run by Fertility Network UK and a friend of ExSeed Ian Stones. They meet online once a month and it’s a great place to connect with other guys, share your story and listen to theirs.

We hope that even if things aren’t going to plan right now, you can find some peace and joyful moments in the holiday season this year. If you are keen to support your fertility as we head into 2023, why not check out our blog on the best New Year’s Resolutions for improved sperm health.

ExSeed sperm test

Learn more about our device

More to explore

Search

Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.

Stress

Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.

Nutrition

Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Vegetables
Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.

Heat

Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.

BMI

There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  

Alcohol

A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.

Age

Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.