You probably never thought you would utter the words, “we’re going to have sex again? Do we have to?” But when you’re going through infertility and have baby making sex scheduled and coordinated, you may not be up for sex during other times of the month. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, there’s immense pressure for romance, lingerie, and having sex. Although you love your partner and want to express that, this whole holiday can feel like a nightmare when you’re trying to conceive, doing IVF, or exploring other infertility treatments.
Unlike other holidays, such as Easter, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, which are about family, Valentine’s Day is focused on intimacy, namely sexual intimacy. This can put enormous pressure on couples in general, but even more for infertile couples. Sex becomes mechanical when you’re trying to get pregnant, with the romance disappearing more and more as the cycles continue. These couples aren’t having sexual intimacy at all, simply sex to procreate. It can feel forced at times, and with the Valentine’s Day hoopla surrounding having romantic sex, the pressure is too much to handle.
What would it be like to make Valentine’s Day less about having sex and more about building a fantastic connection during the stressful time of infertility? How can you achieve that?
- Take a break from trying to conceive, baby making sex, and/or treatments and IVF: I know that with a small chance of conceiving each cycle, every month is precious time when you’re hoping for that positive pregnancy test. Give yourself a break, if even for one day, to stop thinking about getting pregnant and instead focus on your relationship and spending time with your partner. It can do wonders for your marriage, and make the rest of your infertility journey easier to get through together. Read my post for how to weather the storm of infertility together for more ideas about being on the same team when it comes to infertility.
- Don’t talk about infertility: Make the focus of your conversation about your relationship, not about infertility. You may have been talking about infertility, doctor’s appointments, your sex schedule, what new articles you read about conceiving…well you get the picture, for months. On Valentine’s Day, shift the topics to things about each other, what attracted you to one another, and what you appreciate about your partner. Do this quick exercise: spend time reminiscing how you met, what you admired about the other person, what activities you enjoyed doing together, and why you feel your partner is the right person for you.
- Get creative and think out of the Valentine’s Day chocolate box: Valentine’s Day is set up to facilitate a romantic evening ending with sex. Take that pressure off so that you can enjoy each other by doing something completely different than the cliché date of dinner, chocolates, and lingerie. After you’ve spent some time reminiscing about how you met and the beginning times of your relationship, think of something that you used to enjoy doing together. Spend some quality time together as a couple. Go bowling, on a bike ride, to a cooking class, to the spa for a couples massage, a woodworking class, yoga, a couples retreat, a workshop, a picnic, wine tasting, or doing an adventurous activity such as sky diving or riding ATVs. The idea is to strengthen your connection.
- Focus on the experience, not the end result: When sex is scheduled and becomes routine, it’s more about the outcome rather than connecting with your partner. Instead of having sex, make it about the experience and increase the sensuality. You can start increasing your emotional intimacy by doing the suggestions mentioned above and continuing to express appreciation for your partner. Physical intimacy can be expressed by holding hands, non-sexual touching, and kissing, hugging, and cuddling. Take turns giving each other massages. Take a bath together. Feel free to talk openly about what you are enjoying about the process and make it about pleasure. This will feel like a welcomed change from what you’ve been doing in your sex life. You can even integrate some of these ideas into your baby making sex to change it up.
- Make sex fun and different from TTC sex: You’ve been having sex on a schedule, in a certain position, charting your basal body temps, recording body changes, and taking your medications. There are ovulation kits involved and special lubricants. This really doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. So for Valentine’s Day, have some fun. You’ve found ways to connect on an emotional level and you’re able to focus on the sensual experience of sex. Other ways to get out of your sex routine: have sex at a different time of the day, in a different position, experimenting with role play, in a different room, and without time limitations.
Holidays can really get you down when you’re in the midst of infertility, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Don’t let the pressure of a “perfect evening” get in the way of having a really fun Valentine’s Day, one focused on your relationship and reconnecting. It can be an opportunity to rekindle your intimacy and recover from the stress of trying to conceive. Have fun, enjoy yourself and the time with your partner.
If you are having difficulties conceiving or you’re already in the process of infertility treatments, I’d love to be able to support and help you through this difficult journey. I’m located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx. I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist and enjoy working with couples that have lost their connection, are facing infertility, constantly argue, or are adjusting to a new baby. I offer free phone consultations, so give me a call at (832) 827-3288.