Navigating the holidays when trying to conceive 

Navigating The Holidays When Trying To Conceive

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So, it’s the final countdown to Christmas – and for some, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, if you are on a fertility journey, there’s a chance you might not be looking forward to it quite so much. 

Between dodging intrusive questions from family and trying to find time to get intimate with your partner, the thought of the holidays might be stressing you out, or driving you to drink (two things that aren’t great for your sperm health). If this resonates with you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone – and we’ve got some tips on how to navigate the holiday season whilst trying to conceive. 


Staying healthy over the holidays 


If you’re on a bit of a preconception health kick – the next few weeks may throw some challenges your way. Now, we’re not the Grinch, so we’re not going to ruin Christmas by telling you to stick to a strict fertility nutrition plan during the holidays. But let’s face it – two weeks of lying on the sofa living solely off Terry’s Chocolate Oranges isn’t great for anyone. 

A healthy lifestyle is all about balance, a balance we tend to lose throughout December – and find really hard to regain in January. We often see a decline in sperm quality around March time – as the sperm being produced around Christmas are maturing – so it can pay to be at least a little mindful of what you get up to over the festive period. 

If you’re trying to conceive, why not use this Christmas as an opportunity to make new habits and traditions that will support your fertility – and your family’s health in the years to come. If you usually spend Christmas Eve drinking 10 pints in the pub, why not mix it up and try a festive family walk? If you’re usually on pudding duty, find new ways to make even the most undesirable veg (here’s looking at your sprouts) exciting. Making healthier choices doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the festive spirit – it might just look a little different this year – and that’s ok! 


Tricky Yuletide Emotions  


The holidays are generally a time where people are full of festive cheer – but it’s not the case for everyone. Christmas can stir up some pretty intense feelings and if you’re trying to conceive it can also be a bit of an emotional minefield – especially if things aren’t going as smoothly as you would like. From a bombardment of pregnancy announcements to intrusive questions about when you are going to have kids, it can feel like you’re in a maze trying to avoid fertility triggers at every turn. 

A fertility journey is tough and it’s important to allow yourself time to feel all the feelings. However, there are some things you can do to avoid external factors that might send you into a downward spiral when you’re trying to enjoy your Turkey. Christmas is a great time to put your phone away and enjoy a bit of a digital detox. This will limit your exposure to the social media influx of pregnancy announcements and ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ posts that might make you feel bad about where you’re at in your journey. 

It’s also really important to talk to those closest to you about how you’re feeling. Opening up to your support network about where you’re at emotionally can be really helpful in times like these. If you’re a private person who finds being vulnerable hard, this might not be easy, but there can be a lot of benefits.  Not only will it give you a safe space to vent your feelings but your circle can also become helpful allies when facing challenges that a big Christmas might throw up. They can help diffuse awkward situations, brief family members on topics that are off-limits, or simply give you an escape route if you get locked into a conversation they know you might find upsetting. 


‘Tis The Season For Self Care


Another really important part of looking after your mental health is practising self-care. Between delivering Christmas cards, ordering the Turkey and panic shopping on Christmas Eve because you forgot to get your Mum a present – the week leading up to Christmas is hardly relaxing. But it’s really important to take some time for you amongst all of that. If you’re on a tough fertility journey, your emotional resilience is probably already pretty low – so if you pile on a never-ending festive to-do list – it’s a recipe for a bit of a breakdown. 

Try to do one thing each day just for you – whether that’s a quick run listening to your favourite music, or taking a little longer in the shower so you feel relaxed instead of rushed. Sometimes even offering to take the recycling to the tip can feel like self-care during the holiday season (especially if it means escaping a house full of family members). 

Self-care is also important for your physical, as well as emotional health – and could actually have a knock-on effect on your fertility. Stress, a lack of sleep and falling into unhealthy habits can all contribute to a decline in sperm quality, so if you find it hard to prioritize yourself, remember – self-care isn’t selfish, it’s actually part of your preconception plan! 


Rocking Around Your Relationship


If there’s anything more important than getting ‘me-time’ this Christmas, it’s making space for quality time between you and your partner – which can sometimes slip down your list of priorities with everything else going on.

Firstly, there’s the obvious – if you’re trying to get pregnant naturally, you need to be having regular sex. Which, isn’t always easy if your in-laws are staying in the room next door. It’s generally recommended to have sex 2-3 times a week – and every day when your partner is in her fertile window. If this falls over the Christmas period, you might have to get a little creative – or set some boundaries that mean you get the privacy and time you need to get intimate. 

Speaking of intimacy, this can sometimes get lost during a fertility journey. Whether you’re conceiving naturally or through assisted treatments, if you’ve been trying for a while you might be feeling a bit drained and disconnected. Use the Christmas break to sprinkle a bit of festive magic on your relationship. You don’t have to go full-blown Love Actually, but arranging a date night or simply blocking out one or two days for you to do absolutely nothing but chill out – alone – and watch Christmas movies could go a long way to nurturing your relationship. 

We hope that regardless of where you’re at in your fertility journey you manage to have a great time this Christmas. If you’re struggling there are some great male-focused communities where you can find guys that get it. Check out Him Fertility or follow accounts like @them_ancave to connect with a supportive group of men who will definitely empathise with the way you’re feeling.

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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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.  


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”.


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.