8 Ways to Make Sex More Enjoyable While Trying to Conceive

Close up of couple kissingMany couples experience a surge in sexual excitement and activity when they begin to try for a baby. They may be suddenly free from hormonal birth control methods or the barrier sensation of condoms and often feel they have a closer and more intimate connection than before.

However, after a short time, if a baby has not been conceived, this heightened sense of intimacy and sexual excitement may fade. What typically replaces it is a sense of monotony and routine—sex by schedule, goal-oriented sex, sex under pressure—as well as anxiety, grief, and loss. The emotional ups and downs can be hard for people to endure time and time again. Hope is erased by the first sight of your period, and then sadness and grief take over.

Sometimes, partners experience guilt on top of all these other emotions. Is it my fault we are not getting pregnant? Is it his fault we are not getting pregnant? Are we doing it wrong? Could we have done something differently? Is it because I did X, Y, or Z? Many people also feel guilty that they want sex only in order to conceive. What’s wrong with me that I don’t desire my partner sexually except to make a baby?

This can be an extremely difficult time for couples. They often feel alone, especially when they see “baby bumps” and strollers everywhere they go. The pressure to conceive often colors the mood and trajectory of the sexual relationship.

Here are some recommendations that may help you continue to enjoy sex while going through the process of trying to conceive:

  1. Even if sex is planned or scheduled, don’t forget the foreplay. Sex doesn’t have to be rushed just because you “have” to do it. Try setting a timer for 30 or 45 minutes and don’t begin intercourse until that timer goes off. This may help you focus on becoming aroused, touching each other, and enjoying one another.
  2. Focus on pleasure and the female orgasm. Though many assume the male ejaculation is all that’s really needed to create a baby, there are a lot of benefits to focusing on pleasure and even female orgasm. In one study, researchers R. Robin Baker and Mark Bellis found that female orgasms that happened between one minute before the male ejaculated up to 45 minutes afterward led to higher levels of sperm retention. Furthermore, getting into the habit of having sex only for procreation may bring about reduced interest in sex on the part of both parties. Once a couple gets into the habit of having sex as a matter of routine and without much arousal, it can be hard to get out of that habit.
  3. Try something different. Many couples get in sexual ruts from time to time. Consider changing the environment. Even having sex in the shower, in another room, or adding some new lingerie or candles can enhance the experience and make it feel less routine.
  4. Remember it can take time. It’s important to know that, for many couples, it can take several months to a year or more to conceive. Try not to get discouraged, exercise self-compassion, and give yourself the benefit of patience.
  5. Talk to your partner about your experience and listen to your partner’s experience. Grieve together. Share feelings. Remember people experience loss differently. Although your partner may not cry in front of you, it does not mean he or she does not feel sadness. Share your feelings, but don’t expect your partner to feel the exact same way you do. Listen and be compassionate. Relating on this shared experience grows emotional intimacy, which will help you have greater sexual intimacy as well.
  6. Consider taking a break from “trying.” Take a break from scheduled ovulation times and just have sex when the mood arises. Not only might this kindle sexual sparks, it may relieve some of the pressure and anxiety you both feel.
  7. Talk to someone in your support system outside of your partner. Be selective about who you talk to because some people may not be as helpful as you may like. Some people may give you all sorts of unwanted tips and “old wives’ tales” about what they heard will help you get pregnant. Some may be overly intrusive. Select a few trusted people to talk to, such as close friends, family members, or a therapist, who can help meet some of your emotional needs. Remember that your partner is also going through this difficult time and may not be able to fully support you the way you need because he or she is going through his or her own process as well.
  8. Schedule date nights or other fun activities you enjoy outside the bedroom. Having more fun together may remind you that you’re not just “partners”—you really like and love each other. Those positive feelings may carry over into sexual activities.

If you’re having difficulty conceiving, you are not alone. Reach out to your support system, get the medical attention and therapeutic support you need, and focus on what you love about your partner. Sustain emotional intimacy and focus on the pleasure of being together by not rushing to the male ejaculation. Extend foreplay and remember that just because sex may be scheduled does not mean you cannot also experience pleasure and even orgasm.

Reference:

Baker, M. M., & Bellis, M. (1993). Human Sperm Competition: Late Manipulation by Females and a Function for the Female Orgasm. Animal Behavior, Vol. 46, 887-909.

© Copyright 2015 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Mieke Rivka Sidorsky, LCSW-C, CST, therapist in Silver Spring, Maryland

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Bree

    Bree

    December 4th, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    You have to be willing to focus on the act itself and not what you want for the outcome to be. I think that this is probably incredibly difficult for couples who so badly want to have a baby and then have problems conceiving but I am sure that anxiety and stress can sometimes play a very negative role in conception efforts, wouldn’t you say?

  • Rogan

    Rogan

    December 5th, 2015 at 7:21 AM

    MY wife and I finally got to the point that we would just try to leave it in God’s hands. We had wanted a baby so badly for so long that it got stressful to even think about having sex because we had to wrong goals in mind. I know that it is easy for me to say this from my perspective now that we have kids, but we had a very difficult time getting pregnant in the beginning. It started to take its toll on us when really this wasn’t what marriage should be all about. We had even started looking at other options for having children when finally we were able to conceive on our own.

  • LoriT

    LoriT

    December 7th, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    I just can’t talk with my husband about it anymore. I feel like he is making everything so trivial and that he isn’t nearly as into us having a baby as I am

  • malika

    malika

    December 7th, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    We become so focused on what is WAAYY down the road ahead of us instead of concentrating more on the right here right now. Right now we have to make sure that we are giving our spouse the attention and gratitude that they need to feel and deserve. And of course they need to do for us. We have to pay attention to the present because you can’t go back and change the past nor can you predict the future. Live for the moment and enjoy it all.

  • Todd L., LCSW

    Todd L., LCSW

    December 7th, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    Great relationship advice that I plan on taking into my own practice! Thanks for the article!

  • Brayden

    Brayden

    December 8th, 2015 at 3:18 PM

    I hate to say this but I have known more than one couple who have wound up splitting up because of the pressure of trying to make a baby. It is like they started letting this consume every thought and action that they had with one another and as the months would go by without a pregnancy it is like more resentment and attitude would crop up between them.

  • christianna

    christianna

    December 9th, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Just focus on the love that you have for one another.
    In the end this is what the act and the commitment are all about, so that is what you should have in your head that you should be worrying about.
    Pleasing the other person, nothing else.

  • Evie

    Evie

    December 14th, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    It’s sex! What’s not to love?

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