Anyone who is struggling to conceive or undergoing fertility treatments knows how the process can affect the sexual relationship of a couple. Sex, which was one of the most exciting and fun aspects of the relationship, has now become a mundane task which can lead to disappointment and feelings of failure.
According to research, infertility and the treatment of infertility is associated with negative self-esteem, and feelings of anxiety and depression. This can wreak havoc on a couple’s sex life. What was once an intimate part of a couple’s personal life suddenly feels like it’s under a microscope. This hyper focus can affect the sexual performance of both men and women.
Let’s take a closer look at why infertility can take a toll on a couple’s sexual relationship. Once we know the reasons, it’s easier to tackle them and enjoy a healthy sexual relationship while trying to conceive. And if you are undergoing infertility treatments it can be even more challenging as there now exists timing issues of when you can and cannot be intimate.
Why Does Infertility Affect a Sexual Relationship?
Sex Needs to Be Planned
One of the most exciting aspects of lovemaking is spontaneity. Who doesn’t love the thrill of falling into bed and enjoying unbelievable pleasure which has a lasting effect without having to plan it? However, during the conception process couples are expected to have sex at the right time. So, before they share this intimate moment, they have to plan for the perfect time when the female is ovulating or do it in a position which they think increases the likelihood of sperm reaching the egg.
This planning can affect couples not only physically and emotionally, but sexually as well. Research has shown that 45% of couples undergoing infertility treatment found it had an impact on performance due to the stress of planned sex. In men, this stress can result in erectile dysfunction. It not only affects the performance of men but equally affects women. They often lose the desire and perform the act without being aroused. This stress in turn reduces the couple’s ability to conceive.
Feeling of Failure
When couples are so focused on trying to conceive it can significantly affect their performance in the bedroom. Men begin to lose confidence when they are unable to create a child despite repeated attempts. Similarly, women feel like their bodies are failing them. Also, when couples fail to conceive naturally and rely on medical interventions such as IVF or intrauterine insemination it often results in pressure and stress.
Intercourse becomes Part of the Treatment
As part of the fertility treatment, couples need to share the intimate details of their relationship. Often their reproductive organs are tested and treated. Medications are prescribed to super-ovulate, maybe help sperm count, and create a lining. Together, all these things lead to mechanization of the process. So, sex, which was an opportunity to reconnect, becomes part of the infertility treatment.
How to Stay Sexually Active?
Given that infertility treatment can take a toll on the sexual relationship of a couple, let’s have a look at how couples can manage to stay sexually active while trying to conceive.
Accept and Acknowledge
If there is a fertility issue, it is critical for both partners to accept and acknowledge that their journey towards pregnancy is going to be more complicated than expected. At the same time, they should accept that their union needs to survive despite the difficulties in trying to conceive.
Share Your Feelings
It’s only natural to feel frustrated, sad and anxious. Talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Be open about your fears and concerns and together, find ways to manage them. I like to recommend a talking stick where each person gets a turn to share (holding the talking stick) without the other interrupting; then the person listening reflects back what they heard. You don’t have to buy a stick, just pick a special object to hold.
Enjoy Intimate Time
Sexual intercourse in a relationship does not have to be all about getting pregnant. There is more to intimacy then penis meets vagina. Explore and spend time with your partner. Hugging, massaging, and kissing are often forgotten in the baby-making journey. Make sure to plan intimate moments in the bedroom when you aren’t ovulating. Don’t forget that love-making is about love. Open your heart wide to each other.
Don’t Forget About Romance
Romance doesn’t necessarily mean making love. It’s important to stay connected to your partner in other ways such as enjoying a date night, watching a favorite movie snuggled up on the couch, or surprising your partner with tickets to a game/concert.
If you are finding it hard to stay sexually active while trying to conceive, schedule an appointment with Denise Wiesner. Certified Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM), Wiesner is the founder of Natural Healing and Acupuncture in Los Angeles and a certified sex coach. She uses acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help couples overcome fertility issues and to conceive naturally.
Based on years of experience, Denise has also published the book “Conceiving with Love” which offers important tips to couples for promoting their self-esteem and bringing intimacy back into relationships. The book also shares tools which can help you reconnect sexually with your partner and make sex an intimate act of love.Share