Dr. Abayomi Ajayi
01-4667360, 07026277855 [email protected]
How can you improve your sex life when you’re trying to get pregnant? There are no easy answers. Sex is for making babies. True. In fact, sex, just once, at any time, could result in pregnancy. But few people ever consider the idea that sex might not lead to pregnancy quickly and simply. When things don’t work the right way, sex goes from being a stress reliever to being a stress creator. The experience can be very frustrating.
As the months or years go by, sex may turn into a source of frustration and stress. Sex can be a source of frustration when you’re trying to conceive. Attempting to have sexual intercourse while coping with infertility can be a huge challenge for the simple reason that infertility can negatively impact on sexual life. Before trying to get pregnant, sex was probably thrilling, wonderful, fun and passionate. Trying to conceive for an extended time can change all of this.
Infertility often makes sex to become frustrating. Many couples are witnessing the deterioration of their relationship because of infertility. Sex becomes a reminder of what isn’t working the way it should. Sex begins to feel like a chore. Hearing the words “Let’s make a baby” right before sex may be a turn-on in the beginning. But after months or years of trying to get pregnant, those words are the last thing you’d want to hear.
Sex may feel like a chore. It may feel like something you have to do in order to accomplish a goal. And that goal- making a baby- feels impossible to reach.
Add in the stress of timing for ovulation or being told by the doctor to have sex on particular days, and sex starts feeling more like homework.
Infertility may make a woman feel less womanly. The breasts and hips are often thought of as sexual symbols of childbearing and child nourishment. Infertility may take those thoughts away. A woman may not understand how her partner can find her attractive, especially if she feels “damaged” by infertility.
Infertility can also harm a man’s feelings of masculinity. While a woman is more likely to struggle with feelings of depression or anxiety during infertility, a man with infertility struggles terribly with shame.
A man tends to feel “less of a man” if his sperm count is low or he can’t get his partner pregnant, for whatever reasons. He may worry that his partner will leave him for a “real man.” When you don’t feel worthy of love, or don’t feel sexy or attractive, your sexual relationship is going to suffer.
Anxiety can also lead to sexual tension. Anxiety specifically around sex is common in couples dealing with infertility. Women and men with infertility are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction that refers to having problems with any stage of the sexual act, including the desire to have sex, arousal during sex, and orgasm. It’s not hard to imagine how problems of shame, anxiety, depression, and frustration can lead to sexual dysfunction.
Trying to have sex to conceive can be fun and exhilarating… in the beginning. Many couples struggle with sex and infertility. There is a place for these methods. However, it’s not always so simple. The pain of infertility can be deep. Sometimes, just finding the energy or willingness to try new things is hard enough.
Many couples that are trying to get pregnant struggle with feelings of low libido, problems getting aroused during sex, trouble reaching orgasm, etc. Some may even start to resent sex. The whole idea of “bedroom fun” may be a turn off altogether.
While many people feel these things, most don’t talk about them. Instead, they keep it all bottled inside. This intensifies the feelings of isolation, shame, and resentment. It’s not easy, but it’s important to talk to each other.
Talk about how you feel about sex, what’s going through your mind, and what’s causing trouble for you. You also need to listen. If your partner tells you that sex has become a chore or a burden, hear what they are saying. Don’t automatically assume it is an attack on you.
The testing and treatment of infertility can also bring up feelings of shame. One of the best ways to fight shame is to bring your feelings of unworthiness into the open. Talk to a friend, a therapist or your partner. As long as you are not in the middle of treatment, and your doctor has not assigned you to have sex on a particular day, it may be best to drop ovulation prediction for a while.
If timing sex for pregnancy is turning you off and stressing you out, you may enjoy sex more when it’s not planned only for baby making. Trying to have sex on the most fertile days is a good way to get pregnant faster. But if it’s killing your sexual relationship, it’s not worth it. Instead, try having sex twice or thrice weekly, regardless of the ovulation.
If you want to be extra “safe,” have sex at least three times a week, maybe even four times. You’re bound to have sex on one of your fertile days, even if it’s not your most fertile day. Having sex more often may boost your chances. Sperms are healthier when sex is happening frequently.
Trying to get pregnant can make people forget that sex is more than intercourse. Sure, you need vaginal intercourse to get pregnant, assuming you’re not having a fertility treatment. But there are other intimate ways to express love and affection.
Taking time to enjoy touching that can’t lead to pregnancy can provide an outlet for sexual enjoyment that isn’t tied directly to baby-making. Another way to bring back the passion and fun is to purposely have sex when you’re not ovulating.
Before the woman’s fertile days at the beginning of her cycle, she knows that sex is not going to lead to a baby. There is less stress and wondering if “this will be the one that works.”
It can also heal feelings between partners if one is wondering if they only ask for sex in order to achieve pregnancy. Infertility changes how we see ourselves as sexual beings. It changes our sexual relationships. But it should not be like this forever. There’s reason for hope.
A long-term study of couples who went through IVF treatment looked at whether the sexual and marital relationship was affected years after treatment. They specifically looked at how couples were doing 10 years after treatment.
Ten years after infertility, couples rated their level of marital and sexual satisfaction as being “adequate” or “more than adequate.” This was true regardless of whether they succeeded in getting pregnant, went on to adoption, or remained childless. While you may be struggling now, once it’s over — and it will be over eventually — things will get better.
Pressure to perform can also lead to sexual dysfunction. Both men and women may experience this while trying to conceive. For men, performance anxiety, premature ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction may occur. The stress of trying to conceive, plus the diagnosis, testing, and treatment of infertility, causes tension in the sexual relationship for many couples.
You may feel that you are alone with your experiences. You may even wonder if your partner feels the same feelings of shame and frustration that you feel. It’s important to know that you are, by far, not alone.
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