Is winter a better time to make babies?
Our mood and behaviour can be influenced by the seasons. Seasonally Affective Disorder is a form of depression that occurs during the winter months but is relatively rare. Many seasonal fluctuations are more common and can impact upon our sexual and romantic relationships, some having a more positive impact than previously thought.
Many of us believe that spring is the mating season, but a study conducted in the Journal of Human Sexuality (2013) found that surprisingly, heterosexual men are more attracted to women in the winter months. The study group of 114 heterosexual men aged between 16-53 years were asked to rate the attractiveness of photos of women, one showing only the women’s face and the other showing their bodies, either covered up or in swimwear, every three months throughout the year. The study found that while the scores for pretty faces remained the same throughout the year, the overall attractiveness was higher in the winter.
The men in the study who were in the same romantic relationship for the course of the study tended to think that their partners were sexier in winter than in the summer. The reason for these results may be because during the summer there is plenty of flesh on display, making men more critical and having higher expectations of what is sexy. During the winter months skin is rarely seen, making it more novel and arousing to look at. The facial ratings did not change because faces are on display all year around.
Research has found that the birth rate tends to peak during the third quarter of the year, leading to a higher number of conceptions during the winter months than at any other time of the year. According to the Office of National Statistics, more babies are conceived in December, with 11th December being the day when most babies are conceived, leading to 16th September as the most common birthday, 40 weeks after 11th December.
An Israeli study of 6000 men being treated for infertility found there was an increase in the number of sperm with faster swimming speeds and fewer abnormalities made during the winter. The study found that these men produced 70 million sperm per litre of semen during the winter, 5% of which had faster motility or swimming speed compared with sperm made during the spring, which was 60 million sperm per millilitre, 3% of which were faster swimmers. Therefore, trying to conceive during the winter months increased a couple’s chance of becoming pregnant. There might be seasonal differences in sperm production because when the testicles get too hot they work less efficiently.
The length of daylight during the winter months could play a part in how often couples have sex. Being colder and darker, couples may have more sex during the winter months as there is less to do and they spend less time outside.
So, if you are planning to have a baby, why not use this research to cuddle up to the one you love and enjoy some great winter sex. Who knows, there may be the patter of tiny feet next September!