It goes without saying that sex is an integral part of the fertility awareness method. Although sex isn’t the primary focus of the method, the method itself was developed to allow you to time sex at specific points in your cycle, particularly if you’re actively trying to conceive, or using the method for birth control.
If I was supporting you through the process of mastering fertility awareness, for example, I’d have to be paying attention to when you and your partner are having sex during your cycle, and I’d definitely be looking at whether you’re having “protected” or “unprotected” sex on the days you should be in order for you to achieve your desired outcome (baby or no baby).
What I’ve noticed is that the more I pay attention to when my clients are having sex in their cycles, the more I see a few troubling trends. One is how common it is for women to struggle with orgasm, vaginal dryness, and/or pain with intercourse, and another is the tendency for couples who are actively trying to conceive to only have sex during their fertile window. I’ll often see couples who stop having sex for the rest of their cycle after they’ve confirmed ovulation. Can you relate?
Far be it from me to tell you what your sex life should be like, but I suppose you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you that I have your best interests at heart.
Sex is an amazing thing, or at least it should be, but only if you give it the time and attention it deserves. It’s pretty easy for sex to fall to the low end of the priority list the longer you find yourself in a relationship with someone, and especially when things get busy; but as I’m sure you can appreciate, when the sex starts falling to the wayside it can have a negative impact on your relationship overall.
If you’ve been trying to conceive for several months or even a year or more, then I’m guessing that your desire to have a baby has at least partially hijacked your sex life. What was once a carefree, fun, and stress reducing activity has now morphed into a purpose driven timed activity that feels more like a chore than a pleasurable trist after a long day of work.
I want to take a moment to honor your feelings around this. Unless someone has walked in your shoes and they really know what it’s like in their bones to try month after month to conceive with no avail, then they really can’t imagine how difficult it has been for you during this time. But even so, sometimes you need a gentle nudge from a friend who cares about you to encourage you not to let all of the magic go out of your sex life. So that brings me to a few things you can do to heat up the sex in your life. I mean, you’re having sex anyways right? May as well make it fun!
1. Have sex outside of your fertile window
This is a big one especially if you are actively trying to conceive. The longer you find yourself trying for a baby the more significant the negative impact on your relationship can be. Sex, once passionate and care free, is now timed and purposeful. You may be doing it in certain positions as a way to optimize your chances of conception (which don’t really improve your chances of getting pregnant by the way), and only on certain days of your cycle.
By the time you’re pretty sure you’ve ovulated the emotional toll of it all has rendered you done for the rest of your cycle. But the thing is your relationship may not stand the test of time if you keep putting sex on the back burner. If you can relate to what I’ve just described above then there’s something you should know…
It’s not a good idea to set up your sex life so your partner falls into the role of “sperm donor.” If the only time you wish to be intimate with your partner is when you need a new sperm installment then you’re skating on thin ice as far as your relationship is concerned.
I’m the first to say that as a woman in this process, you have had to do more testing, have more instruments inserted into all of the places, and to add insult to injury, the emotional strain you’ve experienced on this journey is like no other. But I know that at the end of all of this you want to not only have a baby, but you also want to have your loving partner by your side when your baby finally arrives. You don’t want to get to the finish line (which is actually the starting point of parenthood), and realize that you’ve allowed your relationship to get to the point of no return.
Have sex during your fertile window when you’re actively trying to conceive, but don’t miss out on one of the biggest benefits of fertility awareness charting, which is the ability to drill down and pinpoint which days of your cycle are fertile so you don’t have to actively try all month long. That allows you to utilize the other days of your cycle that fall outside of your fertile window for good old fashioned, toe curling, nail biting, wake up the neighbors…sex! When you know the pressure is 100% off as far as pregnancy is concerned. When you know there is no chance of getting pregnant (for example, during your two week wait) you can truly enjoy sex with your partner for fun and pleasure outside of the goal oriented purposeful sex you’re having on your fertile days.
2. Schedule a regular sex date with your partner
One of the biggest myths about sex is that great sex is always spontaneous. Let’s take a moment to clear that up, shall we? Let’s just say that to say sex has to be completely spontaneous to be great is a load of bull. What if I shared a different perspective with you? What if instead of thinking that scheduling sex is weird or that it will take the spontaneity out of the equation, you considered for a moment that when we schedule things we are stating how important they are to us?
You schedule your doctors appointments and dental appointments right? And my guess is that you find your way to your doctor’s office for your appointments at the specified time?
When you make plans with your best friend to meet for coffee you put it in your calendar, and when the time comes you’re right there waiting at Starbucks for her to arrive…yes? Well, the reality is that it’s so easy to let our relationships and our sex lives slide waiting for the perfect, magical, spontaneous moment to just happen, and in the mean time days, weeks, or even months can go by without much of anything going on.
Great sex can just happen, but in our busy day to day lives if often doesn’t, and unless you’re intentional about your sex life it can easily fall to the bottom of the priority list. The solution? Start scheduling sex dates. It can be a full blown date night out, or a cozy sex night in, but either way by scheduling sex you are making it a priority. You’re declaring to the world (and more importantly to your partner) that sex is a priority in your relationship, and by doing this it ensures that you will fully show up and be present when the time comes because there is no other place in the world that you need to be, which brings me to my next point…
3. Show up both physically and emotionally
Great sex can’t happen when you’re thinking about that deadline you have at work and the load of laundry you just put in the dryer. In order for you to relax enough to truly enjoy a good ol’ romp in the hay with your partner, you first have to be present in the moment and find a way to silence all of the thoughts you’ve got rolling around your head about what you have to do tomorrow and how your stressful your work day was today.
I want you to have great sex, and a huge part of great sex is having great orgasms. And guess what? A huge part of having great orgasms is being able to shut off your mind chatter long enough to be in the moment, pay attention to the pleasurable sensations you’re experiencing now, and, most importantly, letting go and allowing it to happen. I recognize that this is much easier said than done, but if you begin by intentionally carving out time for sex that can go a long way to set the tone and help you to relax and truly be present in the moment.
4. Pretend that you’re dating again
Remember what it was like at the beginning of your relationship when you couldn’t stop thinking about your partner? When you had butterflies in your stomach and your heart fluttered when you locked eyes? If you’ve been with your partner a long time you may have noticed that your initial feelings of desire, excitement, and doe eyed puppy love have transformed into a more stable and deep feeling of love and adoration. In other words, you no longer want to tear your partner’s clothes off every time you lock eyes anymore.
I want you to think back to what it was like for you “dating” your partner. When you’re dating someone you are all over your hygiene, your attire, and your overall presentation. I bet when you were dating your partner you planned your outfits, you did your hair, you wore sexy outfits from time to time, and you even brushed your teeth minutes before you met up.
When was the last time you put the same level of planning, preparation and intention into a sex date with your partner? If you can’t remember then it’s been too long and it’s time to make it a priority again. I’m not suggesting that you constantly live in full makeup and run around the house in perfect outfits. Makeup isn’t necessary at all. Perhaps you could simply light a few candles in your bedroom, or take a shower and put on your favorite pair of high heels. It doesn’t have to be fancy. What I’m suggesting is that you consider pretending that you’re dating again and think about what you could do to rekindle some of those feelings of excitement you used to have at the beginning of your relationship.
5. Take time for “foreplay,” and while you’re at it, stop calling it “foreplay” and start calling it “sex”
If I had to pick one myth about sex that has the potential to interfere with your ability to climax with your partner it would be the myth that you should be able to orgasm easily and quickly from intercourse alone. This is something that I’ve covered in a number of podcast episodes (here and here), and I can’t stress how problematic this myth is. It is reinforced by pretty much everything we see on television. In fact, I often see it being played out on one of my favorite shows, Scandal. Are you a Scandal fan? Well if so, you’ve probably noticed some of the steamy love scenes between Fitz and Olivia. He barely touches her and she climaxes within seconds. If this doesn’t happen to you when you have sex with your partner, the reason why is simply because it doesn’t work that way.
Do you have an orgasm every time you have sex? If you don’t, have you convinced yourself that something is wrong with you? Because there’s nothing wrong with you. Are you able to orgasm on your own? Can you reach orgasm with a toy? If so, then what’s wrong with this picture isn’t you, but the “sex script” that you likely think you need to follow when you’re with your partner.
As women, we are more like crock pots. We need a bit of warming up before sex and that can take time. It’s time to change the sex script that seems to revolve around his erection (for those of us who have sex with men). He gets an erection and that’s when the “sex” starts. He ejaculates and then the “sex” is over. What if “sex” didn’t revolve around his orgasm, but yours instead? What would that look like?
If it revolved around your orgasm then the sex wouldn’t stop until you were satisfied. Possibly more than once. And it would include other sexual activities such as manual stimulation, oral sex, good old fashion making out, and all of the other activities that tend to be put in the “foreplay” category and not really considered to be “real sex” because it doesn’t involve penis in vagina thrusting.
In the interest of your pleasure and deep satisfaction with your sex life (pun intended), I encourage you to change your sex script immediately to incorporate a wide variety of sexual activities into your definition of sex. If you haven’t done this already then trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you and your partner only have sex during your fertile window? Have you found it difficult to reach orgasm during sex? Do you find yourself getting distracted during sex? If so, what do you do to stay in the moment? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Hi Lisa! Thanks for this post and for all of the awesome work you do! I recently read about one study that found that intercourse during the two-week wait might actually interfere with implantation and thus prevent a couple from achieving a viable pregnancy… Not the most encouraging news! :-/ Do you have any thoughts on that? Here’s a link to what I read: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074557/
Fertility Friday says
Hi Virginia, My thoughts on it are that if a couple is regularly having sex during the fertile window and not conceiving there is something else going on. There are many reasons for miscarriage, so although the study shows a correlation, correlation does not equal causation. It’s possible those pregnancies wouldn’t have been viable with or without the sex post-ovulation. On the flip side, having sex post-ovulation wouldn’t be considered a form of birth control. It’s important for couples struggling with fertility challenges to focus on the root cause issues that are interfering with conception (and/or carrying to term). Have a read through The Fifth Vital Sign 🙂