IVF Babble

How can you make ‘TTC Sex’ a happier experience?

This is a question we think millions of people around the world who are trying to conceive would like to know the answer to…. 

On Instagram we put out a post asking if any of you had ever tried the ‘legs in the air’ technique after sex. Not surprisingly, the response was a resounding “YES!”, after all, when TTC, you will literally try anything. So many of you have tried this in an attempt to give those swimmers a bit of help in getting where they need get to, but it has to be said, it is quite the mood killer. Long gone are the days of a loving post coital spoon after a passionate sesh. When you are desperately trying for a child, sex doesn’t seem so sexy any more.

We asked one of our readers to tell us about her sex life and invited her to put any questions she had about ‘TTC sex’ to top fertility consultant Geoffrey Trew and sex therapist Ammanda Major from Relate. 

“I often think back to the times when I used to have pleasurable, unplanned, totally ‘of the moment’ sex. I remember the excitement of that knowing glance, that suggestive touch, then taking the moment by the scruff of the neck and just going for it. The passion, the strength and the intensity was overwhelming. Nothing else in the world mattered. It was just us, doing what all couples who want each other do. I would buy incredible underwear, and outfits made only to be seen in the bedroom. Sex was spontaneous. Sex was passionate. Sex was brilliant!

I would lay there afterwards, in his nook, glowing in love and lust. Everything was perfect.

We had our home, our marriage, our passion. But then, we decided we wanted more. We wanted a child, that’s when things began to change….

As soon as we decided we wanted a child, I downloaded an app to tell me when I was ovulating. A little bunny now appears on my calendar on my most fertile days. These three days are crucial baby making days.

The moment I downloaded the app, spontaneity started to slowly make its way out of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, the sex was still good in the early stages of trying, in fact, they were rather special, as each time we would look at each other with that incredible ‘wow, we are making a baby’ glow.

However, as the months have passed, and with no pregnancy, the fear has set in.

The sex isn’t working. The glow has disappeared and panic has replaced passion. I have googled sex positions that are preferable for conception. I lay still afterwards for a good 20 minutes with my legs in the air. I don’t pee for ages afterwards. I am obsessed with my husbands balls but for all the wrong reasons. I measure the temperature of his bath water. I watch him when he gets his laptop out; (he mustn’t rest it on his lap), and I have banned him from cycling. I need healthy sperm!!

I have stopped wanting sex for any other reason than to try for a baby. I have lost my mojo completely. My husband occasionally fancies a quickie, but without being too graphic, I have totally dried up! My body has no interest in making sex pleasurable anymore. We tried using a lubricant, but then I panicked because I thought the lubricant would damage the sperm. So I made him stop in his tracks, whilst I leant over to google ‘sperm friendly lubricant’. The moment however was lost and he simply turned over and went to sleep.

Sex is not like it used to be. I want to be that lustful sex goddess that I used to be. I want to want my husband. I want him to want me without feeling under so much pressure…but I want a baby more, and until I get there, I’m not sure I am able to have happy ‘TTC sex.”

Dr Trew, half of the problem is that I have ‘dried up’. What is the wetness I used to feel when sex was pleasurable?

The wetness is a natural secretion produced by the cervix and vagina when a woman is aroused, it makes intercourse more pleasurable and facilitates penetration. The inner and outer lips ( labis) also get engorged and become more sensitive and again facilitate penetration and intercourse. Every woman who is sexually aroused produces it, but in very varying amounts! – some women only small amounts, others copious –  both are ‘normal’ . It can also vary during different stages of the menstrual cycle.

Where has it gone?!

When sex becomes a chore, due to the pressure of having to have sex, it can totally lose its appeal. The woman doesn’t get the same, natural, arousal, so her body doesn’t produce the lubrication needed to make it a pleasurable experience. It also can mean the women becomes less likely to orgasm due to the same reasons.

What can I use during this ‘dry phase’?

More time can be spent on foreplay as well as trying to put the fun back into sex! –  but if you are still ‘dry’ then a natural lubricant such as saliva can be used , or ones purchased over the counter at chemists. it is important that if a lubricant is used it is one specifically for people trying to conceive –  so it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals to the sperm  –  such as spermicidals. Try using the IsoLove range. They have a lubricant that is paraben-free and totally safe, it is pH balanced and mimics your natural cervical mucous so will not damage the sperm or egg.

Does putting your legs in the air after sex really work?

No. Putting your the legs in the air, or standing on your head doesn’t make any difference to sperm transport at all, neither does the position used for sexual intercourse.

Should I stop having sex when my IVF treatment starts?

Most clinics suggest that penetrative sex should be abstained from when ivf starts, but this doesn’t preclude other forms of sex!

So how do you have happier sex when TTC? Our reader spoke to therapist Ammada Major from Relate and asked her what we can be doing to get that spark back.

How do you make scheduled sex seem like spontaneous sex?

I’m not sure you can. Scheduled sex is scheduled sex. It all boils down to communication between you and your partner. Acknowledge the fact that sex is under pressure, awkward but that it’s ok. Don’t try and turn it in to spontaneous sex. Accept what it is. You both want the same thing … a baby. When you have intercourse, you both have one thing on your mind.. ’is it going to work this time?’ But sex doesn’t always have to be about intercourse. Have scheduled sex but remember that there are lots of ways to be sexually intimate apart from intercourse – make the most of these because it’s these moments of intimacy that can be spontaneous and bring you closer together as a couple.

If you constantly feel let down that your partner is to blame for the reason you can’t get pregnant, how do you maintain a connection?

A good connection between you can help to maintain the sense of intimacy that often encourages people to be sexual together, try not to keep anxieties to yourself. If you can talk about your fears, disappointments and hopes together, it may well help you as a couple to maintain a positive connection. Try not to lay blame – that helps neither of you – and take care of each other’s feelings.

If it is you, the woman who is the reason behind your struggle to conceive, how do you make yourself feel ‘womanly’?

The feeling that your body has let you down can be overwhelming, although it’s important to remember that being womanly isn’t defined by the ability to conceive. It’s up to each woman to determine what makes her feel womanly or how she best wants to describe herself. But many women do experience a profound sense of loss and failure if conception doesn’t happen or takes a long time. If that happens, try and support each other through reassurance and regular reminders about why you fell in love with each other. Remember if, you’re with a partner, they’re probably experiencing many of the same feelings so sharing what’s going on for each of you will be really helpful.

It is so common to lose your mojo when TTC, so don’t be hard on yourself.

It will come back eventually. The most important thing to do is keep communicating with each other. The rest will work itself out, but if things still don’t feel right then maybe consider professional support from a counsellor trained in this kind of work.

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