Sex & Infertility

Couples experiencing infertility often find their sex life really suffers. Infertility creates a sense of pressure to have sex according to a defined timeline.

Communicating about this dilemma, keeping your sense of humour and remaining emotionally close as you go through this difficult experience can all be challenging.

The expectation of “performance on demand” is a real intrusion on the intimate life of a couple.  In addition, every month holds the possibility of either joy and relief or huge disappointment.

Whether the couple has decided to seek medical intervention for infertility or are just getting frustrated with not getting pregnant as soon as they had hoped, they are experiencing longings about a vision they had for their future together.

Talking with an experienced therapist can help you maintain perspective and keep your morale going, so the issues around getting pregnant don’t take over your entire life.

– See more at: http://sexpositivetherapist.com/infertility-and-sex/#sthash.W3guREsE.dpuf

80% of couples who are trying to conceive will if they are having unprotected sex for a year or more. If it has been longer than a year you can talk to your doctor who can refer you to the Regional Fertility Program. http://www.regionalfertilityprogram.ca

I still cannot get pregnant. Is there any help?

If you are over the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for a while, there are a number of medical and natural fertility health options available to you.

Medical help: Interventions can include surgery, fertility drugs that boost sperm production and ovulation, insemination and in vitro fertilization. In Calgary, the Regional Fertility Program provides diagnosis and assessment of infertility, counselling and treatments. Fertility testing and counselling are covered by Alberta Health Care, however, treatments for New Reproductive Technologies are not which means there are associated costs. The Regional Fertility Program requires a doctor’s referral so the first step is to consult your physician.

Naturopathic help: More people are choosing natural health fertility treatments instead of, or in addition to, medical interventions. Naturopathy looks at health as a whole system and not simply as a problem with the reproductive parts. A natural health practitioner may recommend changes to your diet and exercise, prescribe herbs, and suggest acupuncture or other health treatments depending on what your body needs.

Sexual Activity During Pregnancy

Many couples have questions about the safety of sexual activity during pregnancy and what is normal. Of course, normal varies widely and sex will change over the course of the pregnancy. The key is to have open communication in order to have a satisfying relationship during pregnancy.

For many couples, sex can continue during pregnancy. However, sex may not be a safe activity for women with a high-risk pregnancy or if other conditions exist. If you are unsure if prenatal sex is right for you, contact your doctor. If you have any unusual symptoms after intercourse, contact a health care professional immediately.

In the case of low-risk pregnancies, couples are encouraged to continue their usual sexual activities. This means having intercourse whenever and however they wish. However, your health care professional may advise against sex in these situations:

  • You have a history of premature birth or labour
  • Your water has broken
  • You are bleeding
  • You have placentia previa, a condition where part of the placenta covers the cervix
  • You or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection.

Variations on Sexual Intercourse

As pregnancy progresses, couples should feel free to engage in a full range of mutually pleasurable activities such as massage, touching, caressing, kissing or hugging and explore sexual positions that allow for the comfort and desires of the pregnant person.

Your physical and emotional condition greatly influences sexual activity during pregnancy. Your partner may have an increased or decreased sex drive as well. This is a big change for everyone and it is really important to communicate about your sex life and discuss what feels right for both of your throughout your pregnancy. What feels pleasurable one week may feel painful or awkward the next.

Sex does not harm the baby. The baby is fully protected by the amniotic sac (a thin-walled bag that holds the fetus and surrounding fluid) and the strong muscles of the uterus. There’s also a thick mucus plug that seals the cervix and helps guard against infection. The penis does not come into contact with the fetus during sex.

Sex or orgasm does not cause miscarriage or contractions in low-risk pregnancies. The contractions you feel during and just after an orgasm are totally different from the contractions associated with labor.

As long as you are comfortable, most sexual positions during pregnancy are okay. As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best. Rather than lying on your back, you might want to lie next to your partner sideways or position yourself on top of or in front of your partner. Let your creativity take over, as long as you keep mutual pleasure and comfort in mind.

Your sexual desire and needs can vary during pregnancy. Interest in sexual activity may increase, decrease or stay the same. A number of studies indicate that sexual activity tends to:

  • decrease during the first trimester due to fatigue, discomfort and adjustment to biological changes;
  • increase during the second trimester as increased blood flow to sexual organs and breasts may rekindle your desire for sex;
  • decrease once again by the third trimester as weight gain, back pain and other symptoms may once again decrease your interest in sex.

Use a condom if your partner has an STI, if you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship, or if you choose to have sex with a new partner during pregnancy.

The key to enjoying sexual activity during pregnancy is open communication with your partner. Both of you are going through enormous changes in your lives. You and your partner should discuss your needs, your concerns and your desires openly and frankly. Talking to your family doctor, your OBGYN or midwife may help alleviate any concerns you may have.

Post-Partum Sexuality

Sex after pregnancy: Set your own timeline

Sex after pregnancy might be the last thing on your mind. Understand what to expect and how to renew intimacy with your partner.

Sex after pregnancy happens. Honestly. First, however, vaginal soreness and sheer exhaustion are likely to take a toll. Whether you’re in the mood or sex is the last thing on your mind, here’s what you need to know about sex after pregnancy.

After the baby is born, how soon can you have sex?

Whether you give birth vaginally or by C-section, your body will need time to heal. Many health care providers recommend waiting four to six weeks before having sex. This allows time for the cervix to close, postpartum bleeding to stop, and any tears or repaired lacerations to heal.

The other important timeline is your own. Some people feel ready to resume sex within a few weeks of giving birth, while others need a few months — or even longer. Factors such as fatigue, stress and fear of pain all can take a toll on your sex drive.

Will it hurt?

Hormonal changes might leave your vagina dry and tender, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

To help ease any discomfort during sex, take it slow. Start with cuddling, kissing or massage. Gradually build the intensity of stimulation. If vaginal dryness is a problem, use a lubricating cream or gel. Try different positions to take pressure off any sore areas and control penetration. Tell your partner what feels good — and what doesn’t.

It’s also important to focus on the moment. Keep your mind on yourself and your partner — not the diapers, laundry and other household chores.

If sex continues to be painful, consult your health care provider about possible treatment options.

Will it feel different?

After a vaginal delivery, decreased muscle tone in the vagina might reduce pleasurable friction during sex — which can influence arousal. This is usually temporary.

To tone your pelvic floor muscles, try Kegel exercises. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping your stream of urine. Try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions. Once you’ve got the hang of it, do at least three sets of 10 Kegel exercises a day.

What about birth control?

Unless you’re hoping to become pregnant right away, sex after pregnancy requires a reliable method of birth control — even if you’re breastfeeding.

At first, your health care provider might recommend barrier methods such as condoms and spermicides. These are available over-the-counter and are safe to use at any time. You might also consider birth control methods that contain only the hormone progestin, such as the minipill or Mirena, a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). You can begin using the minipill and other progestin-only contraceptives immediately after childbirth.

Birth control methods that contain both estrogen and progestin — such as combined birth control pills or NuvaRing (vaginal ring) — pose an increased risk of blood clots shortly after delivery. For otherwise healthy people, it’s OK to begin using combined birth control pills and other types of combined hormonal birth control six weeks after childbirth.

If you’re breastfeeding and want to take birth control pills, ask your health care provider to help you choose between combined birth control pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin, and the minipill, which contains only progestin.

What if I’m too tired to have sex?

Caring for a newborn is exhausting. If you’re too tired to have sex at bedtime, say so. This doesn’t mean your sex life has to end, however. Consider making love early in the morning, while your baby naps, or while your baby spends a few hours with a trusted friend or loved one.

What if I’m not interested in sex?

That’s OK. There’s more to an intimate relationship than sex, especially when you’re adjusting to life with a new baby. If you’re not feeling sexy or you’re afraid sex will hurt, share your concerns with your partner.

Until you’re ready to have sex, maintain intimacy in other ways. Spend time together without the baby, even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning and after the baby goes to sleep at night. Share short phone calls or send text messages throughout the day. Look for other ways to express affection. Rekindle the spark that brought you together in the first place.

If communicating with your partner doesn’t help, be alert for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression — such as intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue, lack of joy in life, and difficulty bonding with the baby. If you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression, contact your health care provider. Prompt treatment can speed recovery.

What can I do to boost my sex drive?

Most sexual concerns associated with pregnancy or childbirth resolve within a year. In the meantime, concentrate on ways to promote your physical and mental health. For example:

  • Set reasonable expectations as you adjust to parenthood.
  • Appreciate the changes in your body.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fluids.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Rest as much as you can.
  • Ask your partner, loved ones and friends for help.
  • Join a support group for new moms.

Remember, taking good care of yourself can go a long way toward keeping passion alive.