Your brain has been a little busy lately. What with the calendars, thermometers, and ovulation tests, you've been most concerned with one thing, and one thing only: the vision of tiny baby socks, in every color.
Despite the anticipation of a new, baby-filled season of your life, you can't help but feel frustrated and alone. As every month and every menstrual cycle passes, you worry that your dream of perfect, tiny baby socks is one that might never be realized.
Reduced libido often accompanies the stress that is a couple's long road to parenthood. We're here to remind you that while it may not always be easy, it is possible to maintain an exciting, enjoyable sex life while trying to conceive.
Keep reading to learn more about the common frustrations couples may encounter in pursuit of their tiny pair of baby socks, and how you can make sex with your partner just as thrilling as it once was.
Are you feeling the pressure of trying to conceive? You're not alone. Even without the common struggles of infertility, making a baby takes time.
Even for young fertile couples, the chance of conception is only between 20% and 37% during the first 3 months. There are a few reasons as to why a couple or one singular partner may experience reduced sex drive.
When you decide to have a baby, you may fall victim to scheduled, rushed sex. For the first time in your life, you may not feel the need to prioritize pleasure or orgasms. Suddenly, you have become a focused machine with only one goal in mind: to get pregnant.
Though men are able to fertilize an egg on any given day of the week (with healthy ejaculation), a woman will only be fertile for a handful of days every month. Conception is most possible on the day of ovulation, though it can certainly occur before the egg has been disposed of by the body's menstrual cycle.
This level of obsession and the accompanying frustration is completely normal. Scheduling sex could arguably be the least sexy method of foreplay. When you find yourself feeling like a machine or a vessel, it's no wonder that the more intimate aspects of sex have suddenly evaporated.
For women, hormone levels will fluctuate throughout their cycle. As hormone levels are directly tied to sex drive, their waxing and waning may contribute to a disinterest in sex with your partner. Important hormones include:
If hormones are out of balance (which is possible with both men and women), the lack of desire may not be due to any outside or psychological factors. A dip in any of these hormones is a likely contributor to your lack of interest in love-making.
For many couples, fertility measures like hormone treatments, fertility drugs, and surgery greatly interfere with their ability to approach sex as a wonderful, recreational part of their relationship.
Fertility treatments often require injections, medications, and examinations that can be uncomfortable or painful. Low sex drive is a natural response to that amount of physical stress.
The longer conception takes to occur, the more anxiety and depression may increase. Anxiety and depression are directly linked to lower libido.
This is because chronic stress results in a release of cortisol--a hormone that incites what we know as the "fight or flight" response. When cortisol levels are high, sex drive is often low.
Though it may feel hard to imagine in the moment that sex used to be fun, we promise it's possible to feel that fire again. Solutions include:
Though every sexual experience should be based on personal preference, there are a few therapist-recommended habits to consider and implement when it feels appropriate. Feel free to try all or just the ones you haven't yet tried.
Truthfully, there is no standard definition of "good sex." If sex is consensual, respectful, communicative, and comfortable, its quality will be relative to the partners engaging at the moment.
How long does good sex need to last? We're happy to say that even a "quickie" can be a fantastic addition to your day. And if you're set on conceiving soon, we assure you that quick sex can be just as effective as an hour-long bedroom session.
We do believe that sex can and should be scheduled to keep everyone on the same page. It's important to remember that good sex doesn't always have to be spontaneous.
The quality of sex can be just as superior—even if you have to put it on your partner's Google calendar as a reminder.
If you expect regular sex to be on the table, you will need to become more creative with your foreplay tactics. Studies point to couples having sex at least twice a week if they are hoping to achieve a pregnancy.
What's even more important than quantity is the quality and care taken with each moment of intimacy. Unique foreplay ideas include:
Foreplay will be entirely relative to your relationship, and crucial to the health of your sexual relationship. Stay attentive to what works for your partner (and for you!) and what gets your sexual gear turning during the week.
A 2001 study displayed that couples who are actively maintaining an enjoyable sex life during assisted fertility treatments greatly increased their odds of conceiving. With these kinds of odds, we want to encourage you to breathe and enjoy the more pleasurable components of this process.
Stressing about one's ovulation cycle or timing out sex to fall in line within the slim window of fertility (the four days before you ovulate, on the day of ovulation, and the day following the egg being released from the ovary) can be a real buzzkill in the bedroom.
To lower cortisol levels and increase your level of enjoyment, try a month or two without tracking your cycle. It sometimes feels good to go a little rogue.
You may be feeling stressed out and frustrated right now. We completely understand. What we want to remind you of, however, is the necessity to prioritize mental and physical health. This means that it is important to continue participating in activities that you love, spending time with other people, and taking care of your body through exercise and proper nutrition.
When these needs are taken care of, it's amazing how quickly libido can skyrocket.
Remember—you two are a united front with at least one shared goal: new life.
While that is one thing couples may have in common when they are trying to conceive, we recommend taking time to think about love and your relationship as a whole. It is possible (and encouraged) to work towards a baby while also experiencing a great deal of pleasure. As long as pleasure is a unified goal between partners, it is more likely to become a component of your sexual relationship.
For many men, the pressure of trying to conceive may result in reduced sex drive. Erectile dysfunction or deficiencies are incredibly common, and most often occur under stress. Managing this aspect of the bedroom can make it a lot easier for some to perform.
Sensate focus therapy is a tried-and-true psychotherapy that removes the "end-game" from the pressures of sex. In the sensate focus philosophy, both partners are mutually responsible and involved in the process. This is especially important when trying to conceive, as tensions and "blame" can arise—especially if things are taking a long time.
Sensate focus therapy is used to combat low libido because of its seven foundational focuses. These include:
Sensate focus therapy is an incredibly valuable tool for those struggling with low sex drive. When these focuses are implemented in the bedroom, most couples experience a more enjoyable time as they hope to make a baby.
A healthy partnership acknowledges that there isn't just one beneficial outcome to sex—even during your week of ovulation.
While pregnancy may be the primary object of your current sexual proclivities, it's okay for the activity to be both practical and sexy. In fact, we encourage it!
Increased libido can only help you get closer to your end goal of counting ten little baby toes.
For a little extra help with your reduced libido, we gently encourage you to try something new. Implementing sensate therapy may help to bring back the wild and crazy sides of you that have been too stressed out to experience pleasure. Download the app to begin—you two deserve to experience a night with a little less pressure, and a little more pleasure.