Women who are going through IVF have a lack of libido and also report feeling less satisfied in their relationships in general, the researchers found from astudy conducted at Indiana University. This study confirmed the stress of treatment often has a negative effect on a couple’s sex life.
And so if this study has found that this is happening in the USA – who’s not to say it’s not happening all over the globe. Women are women – and infertile women have this sisterhood, we all stick together. So it makes sense that our infertile sister in the UK, China, Japan, India, The Ukraine, The Czech Republic - all of Europe for that matter, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, etc…. are probably feeling and experiencing a lot of the same things.
The first question for those with no fertility issues is “How come?” or “Why”?
The answer from a woman who knows and who has trekked through the infertility jungle to have a child in a word: “Stress” and the other word that comes to mind “pressure”.
The George Michael tune – “I want your sex” says it all:
It’s chemical (let’s do it)
Habitual (can we do it?)
But most of all…
Sex is something we should do
Sex is something for me and you
Sex is natural – sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural – sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s… One on one
One on one
However, as an infertility patient all of “that” (the fun) is taken out of sex for many reasons. And because I am a fair minded woman let’s start with the guys.
Even during the initial phases of infertility treatment the testing that men go through is mainly blood tests, semen analysis, and on some occasion an ultrasound of the testicles. That seems pretty straight forward doesn’t it—and I know from conversations with men who have undergone testicular ultrasounds, they aren’t terribly unpleasant and if you think about it why would they? What becomes annoying and sometimes embarrassing is the semen analysis. There’s just something about going into a room that everyone knows the purpose for, masturbating on command into a little sterile cup, sliding the cup through the little two-way breeze way, and then conducting the walk of shame through the lobby of your fertility clinic, hoping to God you don’t have to look the rather perky receptionist in the face as you go to your car and knowing that you will most likely have to be repeating this semen analysis more than once during treatment.
Sex will take on a whole new meaning for most men. It will mean sex on command “Honey my I am ovulating, hurry home, we have TO DO IT NOW! The window of opportune time is very SMALL!” And for a lot of men performing on command and rising to the occasion when all eyes are on the prize can be incredibly difficult.
Let’s face it – women are wired differently than men. Most of us don’t just look at our partners and instantly get turned on, it’s a process. We are like race cars; we have to be warmed up when we take our respective poll positions in the reproductive race to have a baby.
“Timed intercourse” is the pits – the days or nights of going out for dinner, having a few drinks, coming home, turning on Marvin Gaye and “Let’s get it on” are over. Gone are the nights of multiple orgasms and making love in every room in your house, or even reaching out and having sex more than once a night! Sex now revolves around calendars, schedules, medications, and that all important timing. Gotta love timing.
I can remember when I began down this path the first few times of timed intercourse it was kind of a novelty – We were a united, we wanted to have a baby, we were taking one for the team, we laughed the first two or three times – but my mind wasn’t present and I wasn’t focused on my partner. The conversation that ran through my head went something like this:
“Okay – Sperm! Sperm ! go in the right direction, connect with my egg(s), let’s make a baby, will this be the night I conceive? Please God, make this the night we make a baby!” And I would chant this mantra over and over in my head as I went through the motions like a robot hoping to get to the finish line of orgasm. And not having an orgasm – which just plain sucks.
As time went on we began to dread the timed intercourse sessions. First of all I knew during fertility treatment alcohol is a no-no, so there would be no more glasses of wine to enjoy together. No more fun enhancement products like “sex butter” (the vagina’s enivornment cannot not be altered if sperm are to go from point A to point B through the least path of resistance)—and honestly, if I heard Marvin Gaye one more time I’d kill someone. All of my fun lingerie I tossed. It was more like “Okay, let’s just do it and get it over with.” I began to resent my partner because he always had the “happy ending” (orgasm) and I often times didn’t my mind was too focused on whether or not “this would be the night I conceive”. I became depressed and each month when it was clear I wasn’t pregnant the idea of having to have sex AGAIN was just such a drag.
The drugs we ladies take during infertility treatment can wreck the libido of the most highly sexed individuals. Lupron for instance catapults most women hormonally into a chemical menopause. We become foggy brained, every orifice in our bodies becomes dry, our libido crashes, we often develop headaches and become crabby. Hormones change dramatically during IVF treatments, which is a big reason for changes in sexual desires of many women.
For those of us who take any sort of Gondatropins to create eggs – I can’t even begin to articulate what a pain in the neck this part is. Injections every day, feeling bloated, weight gain, mood swings, and just over all feeling gross. Once that phase of the IVF cycle is over then it’s retrieval time which is a surgical procedure. And of course, no sex after surgery – the reality is you won’t be having sex for a long time.
We all know the elixir of the woman’s body is estrogen and when we begin replenishing our bodies of this much needed hormone through our IVF cycle and our libidos often return for a brief time. However, if we are undergoing an embryo transfer spontaneous sex is off the table once again until a pregnancy has been established. So even if we do feel like jumping our partners bones we now can’t.
It’s all so frustrating and frankly by now we are exhausted. We just want a damn baby right?
No one told us that we’d take a hit to our sex lives or that I might feel differently about my partner. Honestly, I am not sure I’d have paid much attention because my main focus was on having a baby.
However, if I were doing it all over again I think I’d have more conversations with my partner about the potential pit falls in regards to an all important part of our life as a couple which is sex. It keeps us connected and on the same page about so many things emotionally.
So, if you find your libido taking a hit and not feeling as randy as you might why don’t you check in with your partner, do what you can to keep it spontaneous, but really as a couple keep talking, communication through something as stressful as IVF is truly the key.