“You’re trying to get pregnant? That sounds like fun, wink wink!”
Uh…sure…if you define “fun” as openly weeping during timed sexual intercourse while your husband asks if you want him to stop and you insist that no, you actually need him to orgasm in this very specific way at this very specific time otherwise you can pretty much kiss the chance of getting pregnant this month goodbye…
Not exactly many people’s idea of foreplay.
It’s one of the biggest myths of infertility…that the “trying” part in “trying to get pregnant” is fun. And while it might be sexy and flirty the first couple of months, couples who have been trying for more than a year know that things can take a turn from hot to down-right depressing.
Why is that? Well, “trying to conceive sex” is different than “pre-trying to conceive sex.” Trying to conceive sex is stressful. It’s a mission with a very specific desired outcome and anything else can be quickly labeled as a “failure.” Sex has to be performed during very specific times. There’s a small-ish window to “get it right” and things can quickly go sideways if there are logistical or emotional hiccups…like if you have a work trip during your ovulation window or if you and your partner get into a big, messy fight the night you’re supposed to BD (“Baby Dance” aka have sex). One wrong move can blow your chances of conceiving for the whole rest of the month. It’s a lot of pressure! And pressure doesn’t usually make for uninhibited sexual encounters.
Not to mention that it’s hard to feel good about your body when you believe it’s failing you. If you have a newly discovered diagnosis like endometriosis or PCOS it can be easy to resent your body, rather than believe it to be beautiful. It can also be tough to feel sexy if you’ve gained some weight due to hormones or are just having a lot of extra feelings due to those same hormones. And if your husband is struggling with low sperm count or other sperm-related issues, he might be feeling extra pressure to perform too.
It’s no wonder that trying to conceive can do a real number on your sex life…even for couple’s with healthy, happy, pre-trying to conceive sex lives.
So how do you reconnect sexually with your partner after you’re done trying? How do you find ways to fall back in love with sex? How do you remove the pressure, stressors and bad habits that may have weaseled their way into your bedroom? How do you find ways to forget about sperm and egg biology and just enjoy one another like you did before dealing with infertility?
Here are 5 ways to try and rebuild you sex life after trying to conceive sex and the pressure that comes along with it has passed.
- Give yourself a break: What you’re going through is super normal and common for couples post-infertility. And if you’re dealing with some postpartum stuff or parenthood then there’s an extra couple of reasons you might not be feeling super frisky (lack of sleep, wacky hormones, a disconnection from your body, exhaustion). Just because things have been running cold for a few months doesn’t mean you can’t get your groove back. Do not lose hope and go easy on yourself if getting in the mood has been harder as of late.
- Work through any lingering emotional issues: Infertility is the 4th most traumatic life event a woman can experience. It’s a trauma…and chances are it did a number on your brain, how you see the world and your relationship with your partner. It doesn’t just magically disappear. It takes time and work to heal from this kind of experience, which is why it’s important to work through any lingering feelings or thoughts about your experience trying to build your family. Are you still resentful that you never got to conceive in your own bed? Are you bitter about any friends who get pregnant “easily?” It’s worth exploring this and doing work with a mental health expert to work through these lingering issues.
- Remember what you liked sexually before TTC: Find 30 minutes and take a notepad and pen. Try to write down some of the hottest sex you and your partner had before trying to conceive (or if you want, think of any great sex that pre-dated your partner as well). What did it look like? Were there certain positions you liked or places that got you hot? Was there a commonality? Was it on vacation? After watching something steamy together? Was it after a special date or concert? Try to write down and remember what you liked and what turned you on.
- Talk to your partner: Open a bottle of wine with your partner and take a walk down memory lane. Maybe share some of your thoughts from step #2 (you could even give your partner a heads-up and assign #2 as a type of hot homework!) Discuss what you both liked about your sexual relationship before trying to conceive? Were there certain things that fell to the way-side during the chaos of trying to get pregnant? Were there preferences or toys or interests that you’ve neglected? Was there something you wanted to try while you were TTC but felt silly or inappropriate? Try to remember who you were as a couple before this and brainstorm ways you can either find your way back or reinvent your sexual relationship with your new reality.
- Find some new resources: Still in a rut? That’s normal! Try to find some new sexual health experts to follow for some extra insight and inspiration. Some of my favorites include Dan Savage and his podcast, The Savage Lovecast, as well as Esther Perel and her book, Mating in Captivity (also check out some of her TED talks. She’s the best!) Or if you’d like, mosey on over to your local sex-positive sex store and ask the people who work there for some ideas. They’d love to help you find new ways to have fun with your partner!
What are your tips for reconnecting with your partner post-TTC? Any tips? Thoughts? Advice? Let’s dish in the comments below.