First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage? Well, not exactly…When you’re trying to get pregnant and start family planning it’s more likely you will start using women’s tracking apps that try to track your menstrual cycle and ovulation once you are off birth control. Or how about pee on ovulation predictor sticks every day, sex on demand, and finish by laying with your feet up in the air. Hot, right? Sex and fertility can be stressful.
Your ovulation predictor kit showed up positive, doesn’t mean you need to have sex right that minute!
For women trying to conceive, sexual intercourse can go from something that once brought you and your partner pleasure and the hopes of beginning a family, to something that brings along stress, resentment and exhaustion. Feelings which are especially true when it is paired with infertility and fertility treatments. Sure, TTC can be stressful in itself. Then it takes waiting 30 days (with a normal menstrual cycle length) to know if you achieved conception or not! Data suggests that stress is not only detrimental to your sex life, but also to the ability to conceive. Stress makes it harder for you to conceive and to be lubricated.
It’s not uncommon for couples to think that trying to conceive would be fun and ovulation week would be a dream with sex every day! In fact, the first few months of TTC can certainly feel that way, and many couples say that it is an intimate time together. That is, until it’s been a few months, no success and you’re still trying to keep the romance alive. That’s when sex changes and it begins to feel like a hopeless mechanical means to an end. Many times, both partners end up resenting ovulation week rather than looking forward to it! This is when the partnership needs to come together to reinvent their lovemaking instead of retreating into depression or sadness. Stress and a loss of hope will not only NOT lead to sex. It will also facilitate distance between two partners and make the likeness of treatment success low.
In order to keep sex alive, engage in something sexy that may not even be sex.
How to keep sex alive when you’re super stressed and not seeing results:
1: Refresh the type of SEX you’re having
Many relationships start off with passion-filled sex. But, as a relationship progresses, especially when trying to conceive and dealing with fertility problems, it’s actually quite common for sex to become something that is more scheduled. Rather than for the enjoyable pleasure you may have had sex for at the beginning of your sexual relationship, it’s done because it should be.
Now, many people ask me, what is hot sex? I say, think back to your past and the most erotic, exciting and enjoyable sexual experience you’ve ever had (with your partner, or not) and aim for that. Granted, when you haven’t had sex in months, or you’re having sex for the sake of doing it with fertility awareness in the back of your mind, rather than really enjoying the closeness and pleasure of it – it can feel really weird to attempt getting back into your sexiness.
That’s when you start slow, and maybe begin by kissing again, hot massages, touching each other, shower together, and flirt! People forget that passion doesn’t stay alive because it’s on your mind, it takes work. Pretend you’re dating again, and you want him to want to have sex with you tonight, what would you do, how would you act, what would you say?
Sex may feel like the last thing you want to do, when you’re stressed from TTC and infertility, I completely get it. But, as a relationship therapist I can tell you that no sex life is maintained without work and attention. Not to mention, you’d be surprised how great it can make you feel to physically and emotionally get close to your partner when you’re stressing! Hot, unplanned sex can reduce stress and therefore boost fertility.
2: Engage in some type of intimacy when you’re NOT ovulating
One of the more frequent things reported in long-term relationships is that foreplay stops and it becomes all about basic penis and vagina sex. Couples stop making out to make out, or it only happens to initiate sex (if that even happens). In order to keep sex alive, engage in something sexy that may not even be sex, when you’re not ovulating. The brain works in such a fascinating way! If you arouse it throughout the month, you may even develop a level of desire that you can put to practice during your ovulation week. Some things I suggest are masturbating, sexting, hugging, spooning, cuddling, watching porn together, taking a trip to a sex shop or even simply making out.
3: Sex does NOT need to be on demand the way you may think
Just because your ovulation predictor kit showed up positive, doesn’t mean you need to have sex right that minute! When an ovulation predictor kit shows an LH surge, it essentially means that your brain has signaled to your ovary it’s time to release the egg. Reality is, you really don’t know when the egg will release. Even when an LH surge is detected, the egg may have already released!
Either way, once you see the LH surge, it’s just important to have sex within 12 hours to achieve the most optimal chance of the man’s sperm meeting the egg. So, when you receive a positive OPK test, that’s when you shouldn’t yell, “It’s time! We need to do it now!”and expect an automatic arousal just because you’ve hit your fertile window. Rather, plan for an experience you can both enjoy. Maybe ask your partner if they’re in the mood or do whatever tends to put you both in the mood. You may even find it feels more organic!
4: Sex and Fertility/Couples Therapy
Sex and fertility therapy and support groups don’t mean you’re broken or messed up. In fact, I think it takes a brave individual or couple to acknowledge the need for help in their sexual relationship and seek it. Life stressors can make sex really difficult. Sometimes we need an outlet to discuss the stressors and talk about what is contributing to our lack of sex. As a sex therapist and LCSW, I’ve seen couples go from having boring mechanical sex to hot, steamy passionate baby making and love making within months.
Sex is fascinating. It can be something that we engage in so easily and yet have such difficulty talking about. That’s when sex therapy becomes helpful! If you’re feeling too stressed to have sex, or feel disconnected from your partner, think about the implications of this on your relationships. Think about how it can also affect your ability to be great parents. Behave and act for the life you want, not necessarily for the life you have. You may just see the progress you’re yearning for!