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.