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Challenge: Infertility

Infertility & Intimacy

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How TTC and Fertility Treatments can Change Everything (& what you can do about it!)


Before I started TTC

I didn’t know that trying to have a baby, really really trying - it wasn’t all fun and games.

It didn’t necessarily mean better or more frequent sex with my partner. I didn’t know that struggling to conceive would impact our intimacy significantly. That failing to get pregnant would challenge the way we connected physically.

Before I started fertility treatments…

I didn’t know that my sex life would become scheduled by other people. I didn’t know how limited I’d be in when (and where and how) I could be intimate with my partner. I didn’t know how much I could both miss intimacy and be resentful that intimacy wasn’t enough to make a baby.

Before I started IVF

I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to be intimate with partner… for a good chunk of time. I didn’t know that sex can interfere with and risk the success of treatment, that sex can cause risk in early IVF pregnancy, and that I wouldn’t feel well enough to be intimate again until the second trimester.

I’m a pretty educated person.

A pretty frequent reader and a pretty fierce advocate.

So, why didn’t I know any of these things?

Because I didn’t find anyone else who had written about intimacy and infertility, or even really intimacy and pregnancy. In all my searching and connecting and conversing, three years ago I didn’t come across anything that led me to learn about this topic other than my very own experience.

And friends - that’s not sufficient to me!

So, here I am. Sharing all so nothing feels foreign or isolating or devastating to you as you TTC. So you and your partner know what to talk about when it comes to maintaining your intimacy. And, so you know there are other ways to physically connect with your partner outside of intercourse!

Let’s jump right in. As you know, when you’re actively trying to conceive, sex is really important to have on certain days. Thus, planned/scheduled/forced intimacy becomes the new normal. You might be too tired or too busy or not feel well, but if you’re ovulating, you pretty much need to find a way to have sex with your partner. For me, this made sex feel anything but romantic. It felt transactional. It was never spontaneous. It was no longer about thrill or even pleasure. It was about success. It was about making a baby.

Do you know what’s not great for connecting with your partner? When you’re thinking about cervical mucus or basal body temperature or ovulation DURING SEX {come on, I can’t be the only one who’s been there before}! Do you know what else isn’t great for intimacy? When you blame yourself (or your body, or your partner, or your sex-having skills) for not yet becoming pregnant. When that blame turns into resentment turns into your putting up emotional walls & connecting not only doesn’t feel great, but it’s insanely difficult for it to happen at all.

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced this!

Raise your hand if you’re experiencing this right now!

I assure you, you are not alone! You are in the best company.

Intimacy while TTC requires a new approach - to how and when and why you have sex, who initiates, what makes sex for conception different than sex for pleasure, and most importantly, how to communicate about it! My recommendations: early or late cycle sex (when conception doesn’t hinge on it) should be done somewhere ‘fun’ - have sex on the kitchen counter or in the shower or even on top of your washing machine! It should be spontaneous and full of laughter. It should feel like old times.

Now, what about when you take that leap to seeing an RE, if you’ve been TTC for 12mo+ and you’re looking for more information or assistance? Did you know that testing done by an RE comes with its own rules about when (before or after) you can have had sex? Make sure to ask about this!

If you proceed with something like a medicated cycle, or an IUI, there’s really important sex-having limitations - when you need to wait, and when you need to be intimate for treatment to have a chance at success. Do you know what’s not sexy? Being turned on by your partner and having to check your calendar to realize you’re in the no-fly zone!

Communicate the heck out of this with your partner.

In my advice, these things can really challenge a relationship. They can lead so quickly to frustration and resentment for both partners, and we want to flat out avoid that! So, talk about this. Laugh about this. Make fun of the fact that someone else is scheduling your sex life for the time being. I always recommend partners do a sort of ritual or tradition for “baby-making sex” versus sex for pleasure, to help their minds both distinguish and keep both activities intimate - like changing into lingerie, or using certain lube, or playing a song or playlist in the background!

If/when you find yourself beginning IVF, I need to warn you. IVF becomes scientific, scheduled and precise. IVF is not abut intimacy - at least not in the ways that we are used to. So instead of having mind-blowing orgasms with your partner, you’ll need to find new ways to connect. For some couples, this is about naked snuggling or skin to skin time. For others, it’s having deep and intense conversations about fears and hopes and dreams on the pathway to parenthood. I know some couples who bring back the art of a good make-out session, and use this to connect with their partners before each person… finishes individually.


I don’t want you to be surprised when you’re told that you have to refrain from intercourse for weeks, or even longer, when you’re going through IVF. I want you to be prepared. I want you to know it’s part of the process, and that you and your partner will be ready for this before you walk into the door.

Most of all, through all of this, I want you to know that changes in intimacy, changes in routine, struggling with infertility - it’ll all impact your sex life and your physical connection and intimacy with your partner. But, my hope is that this post will be a great starting point for you to talk with your partner, and to be prepared.

Also - if you’re wanting to learn more about sex for pleasure vs sex for TTC, and you’re wanting to hear more about getting back in the sack after infertility + baby, check out this eCourse (where I’m a featured expert!)

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