When you’re desperately trying to get pregnant without any success, sex with your partner can quickly start to feel like a chore. You might think, “It’s sex, so how bad can it really be to do it more often with someone you love?” Well, it turns out when it’s scheduled and not primarily about pleasure or an emotional connection – it’s not as fun or healthy as you might think. Even when you’re doing it for the main reason sex was actually intended.
When you first start trying to conceive, it’s all very exciting. It might even be the first time you’re intentionally not using birth control. You’ll have feelings of immense joy and a new deeper connection with your mate, while trying to procreate. But, for those who don’t get pregnant after many months of trying, new emotions start to take over – and they aren’t pretty.
When it’s ovulation time, one or both of you may not feel like having sex. But, you do it anyways – because you want to conceive.
Each month I would do my battery of tests to see when I was going to ovulate. I would check my ovulation calendar, use the ovulation predictor kit, check out my cervical mucus, and monitor my basal body temperature. Then I’d enter the dates into my calendar and set reminders. Yeah, what a turn on. After a few months without a positive pregnancy test, I started to have a one-track mind. I only really wanted to have sex when I was about to ovulate. I wanted that peak fertile week to seem exciting, romantic, and spontaneous – when it really wasn’t.
When it’s ovulation time, one or both of you may not feel like having sex. But, you do it anyways – because you want to conceive. When our work required one of us to travel during the time I was ovulating, I’d get a little depressed and feel angry that we squandered another precious month. In a way, trying to conceive was addicting. I wanted to stop, but couldn’t. The desire for a child was stronger than anything else – no matter how damaging the process became. It was an emotional recipe for a marital catastrophe.
Turns out some men don’t really like it when you only want them for their sperm. All sarcasm aside, of course my husband wanted to make a baby too – but the lengthy process became daunting and completely killed our mojo. In an attempt to get it back, and alleviate some of the pressure, I stopped telling my husband when I was about to ovulate. I’d secretly pee on the ovulation predictor stick in the bathroom before I came to bed, so I’d know if it was “go time.” I didn’t talk about anything related to trying to get pregnant… or even babies. Those subjects seemed to put us in a less than randy mood.
This technique worked pretty well for us. At first, I felt manipulative. Then I realized I was actually doing him a favor. He preferred not knowing about all of the minutiae. He just wanted to keep it simple, be able to perform and to enjoy our time together. Sure, I felt slightly resentful at times because I still had to take on most of the burden of increasing our odds – which included testing, scheduling and even trying to eat the right foods to boost fertility. But, I figured it was all part of preparing me for those other times in the future when I’d be carrying more than my share – like those 9 months of pregnancy and being a new mom. In the end, I knew that all of the hard work and stress would be well worth the joy of seeing that Big Fat Positive.
Looking back on all of this now, with some distance, perspective, and a success story, I can offer a few suggestions that might help if you find yourself in this situation:
Take a break when you need it. Those mandatory breaks we had when one of us had to travel for work actually helped. It made trying the following month much more fun.
Know that there is an end to this madness. Thankfully this roller coaster of trying to conceive won’t and can’t last forever. It will end one of three ways: With a pregnancy, an infertility diagnosis (that leads to working with a fertility doctor, and potentially starting fertility treatments) or making the decision to stop trying to conceive. Obviously, everyone wants the first ending. The second one is a whole new journey- with the support of professionals and hopefully some answers as to why you haven’t been able to conceive. The last ending, deciding to stop trying, can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Some studies show that relieving stress can boost fertility.
This moment is just a snapshot of your sex life. The struggle does not need to define you or your relationship. I know it feels like everything when you’re going through it – but it’s only one moment in time in the big picture of your life. As my late grandmother used to say: “This too shall pass.”
Finally, try to find some comfort in knowing that you and your partner are on this fertility journey together.