The holidays are one of the best times of the year – you have so much more freedom, time, and often a lot more parties, feasting and, inevitably, booze!
Considering a woman’s eggs take about 90 days to mature, and sperm takes three months to develop in a man’s body, this means the three-month period before you start trying to conceive is critical for optimising your health and diet for conception. So if you are planning on trying for a baby in the new year, going absolutely wild during the holidays may not be the best idea!
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to navigate this period carefully, to maximise your chances of falling pregnant!
1. Don’t go overboard on the alcohol.
While we all know you shouldn’t drink too much while pregnant, did you know that alcohol can impact both female and male fertility, as well as your chances of conceiving? Even light drinking can affect your chances of falling pregnant (Heertum et al., 2017), and increase the time it takes you to fall pregnant.
For men, heavy drinking can lead to lower sex drive, impotence, poor sexual performance, and can also impact the quality of their sperm (Heertum et al., 2017).
For women, those who drink around seven or more standard drinks weekly are also more likely to experience fertility complications. Alcohol can also affect ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity, as well as reproductive hormones including oestradiol, testosterone and LH, which are critically important when trying to conceive (Heertum et al., 2017).
So while the silly season often brings many more glasses of wine, cocktails, and endless chances to have a few, limiting your alcohol intake can really improve your chances of conceiving!
Feeling isolated at social events and celebrations when avoiding alcohol? Have a read of my top tips on how to handle these situations!
2. Be smart with sugary foods
As we know, a healthy diet can really support your chances of conceiving. So, naturally, refined carbohydrates and sugars can also negatively impact your chances of conceiving.
In males, eating excessive amounts of sugar and refined carbs has been linked to lower semen quality and increased rates of infertility (Panth et al., 2018).
Similarly, high sugar diets have been linked to reduced fertility in women, too (Antoniotti et al., 2018). Processed foods, such as refined carbs and sugars, can impact your hormones such as insulin, which is required to stabilise glycemic levels in the blood. This hormonal imbalance can interfere with ovulation, and cause inflammation in the body which can cause inflammation in the body, impacting the cells lining a woman’s womb and potentially preventing a successful pregnancy (Antoniotti et al., 2018).
So when you’re faced with a table full of cakes, sweets and the ever-tempting chocolate fountain, avoid going overboard, and instead prioritise the plant-based, wholefood options available to you!
Try dipping some strawberries or other fruit of choice in a thin layer of dark chocolate for a post-dinner treat! Don’t forget to enjoy these foods mindfully too at this special time of the year.
3. Watch the soft drinks and sodas
Another temptation that seems to be everywhere at this time of year is soft drink or soda. However before you reach for the cola or lemonade at your next party, let’s dive into the research…
Drinking one or more soft drinks, energy drinks or sodas each day has been shown to reduce fertility in both men and women… causing a significant 20% reduction in the average monthly chances of conception for both sexes (Wesselink et al., 2018).
These drinks can lead to increased insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and weight gain – all of which are linked to PCOS, a leading contributor to infertility (Wesselink et al., 2018).
So basically, minimise alcohol and sugary drinks this silly season if you can. Water, perhaps even a kombucha or sparkling soda are all better options!
4. Go ham on the nutritious options!
We’ve heard about what to avoid over the holidays, now let’s focus on what to prioritise!
Diet plays a significant role in both men’s and women’s fertility and ability to conceive, as well as the health of the future baby! So focusing on a diet rich in whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and fibre can hugely improve fertility in women and semen quality in men.
Great options to enjoy at parties include salads, sashimi, sushi (if you don’t think you’re already pregnant), roast vegetables and fruits!
A great tip: if you’re heading to a party and are worried there won’t be any healthy options accessible for you to enjoy, take a plate with you! A fruit platter is a quick and easy option. Or bring along your favourite salad or a big plate of roast veg, and then you know you and everyone else will have something nutritious to fall back on!
Don’t let exercise fall to the wayside over the holidays! It’s often the first thing to go when we get busy with commitments and social events, but moderate regular exercise has been shown to positively impact female fertility and chances of conceiving (Your Fertility Org, 2020). Exercise can reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility, as well as decreasing the risk of miscarriage and improving conditions such as PCOS which can negatively affect chances of conceiving (Your Fertility Org, 2020), as well as regulating menstrual cycles to improve your chances of conceiving.
Just remember, exercise doesn’t have to be super intense! Excessive high intensity exercise may actually reduce fertility by interfering with ovulation, so just aim to move your body regularly in ways you enjoy these holidays to improve your chances of conceiving.
And there you have it! If you’re trying to conceive, the holidays can be a challenging time full of extra temptations. However, just keep in mind that these small changes can make a huge difference to your chances of falling pregnant, and prevent months worth of setbacks.
You can absolutely enjoy the holidays without missing out on any social events or fun by keeping these tips in mind!
If you’re looking for more help with what you should and shouldn’t be doing while trying for a baby, get all the answers today! Book in now and let’s develop a tailored plan for your goals!