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IVF, Infertility and Valentine's Day
By Leigh Ann Woodruff
Does Valentine's Day seem like another painful holiday to you this year? The pressure to make Valentine’s Day all about sex and romance can feel daunting, especially if you have your baby-making sex scheduled down to the minute, and all you can think about are basal body temperature charts, ovulation and the possibility of in vitro fertilization (IVF).And, of course, if you're taking fertility drugs, you could be dealing with bloating, hot flashes or mood swings, making sex seem remarkably unsexy.
The good news is there are ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day even if you are in the middle of your fertility treatments.
“The nice thing about Valentine’s Day is its focus on the couple,” says Leslee Murphy, an infertility therapist at Houston Fertility Counseling who also works on-site at Houston IVF. “A lot of the other holidays — Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day — are more about the family and children, but Valentine’s Day is about you and your partner.”
So snuggle up with your sweetie and read through our list of Five Ways to Put the Focus Back on Your and Your Partner This Valentine’s Day.
1. Make a Date
Maybe you went to the same fancy restaurant each Valentine’s Day without fail before you started trying to conceive. But do you really want to go to a crowded, noisy restaurant packed to the gills with other couples?
“Crowded restaurants can be overwhelming,” Murphy says. “Plan something creative with just the two of you. Look back to things you enjoyed doing when you first started dating. Think of what you did the first time you were together.”
Plan a Valentine’s Day where the focus is on you and your partner. Have a picnic at home, get a couples massage ... Do something that gives you time to unwind with each other or experience something new together.
2. Think Sensual, Not Sexual
There’s a lot of pressure for romance on Valentine’s Day, whether it is through sexual intercourse or other forms of intimacy. But sex may not be on the forefront of your mind right now, especially if you’re preoccupied with your fertility treatments or not feeling so hot because of your fertility medications.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on the sexy lingerie, so much about being so sexual,” Murphy says. “It doesn’t have to be like that. Find ways to reconnect by focusing on the sensual, not the sexual.”
Instead of bringing out the lingerie that you’re not really in the mood to wear, start slow. Cuddle together on the couch, spend some time talking and take turns giving each other a massage. Starting slow may help fire up your desire for your partner.
3. Get out of the Sex Rut
One of the most common complaints fertility patients have about their sex life is that it has become mechanical. Couples can become more focused on the result rather than the actual experience.
“There’s so much pressure involved that it becomes like a job, not fun,” Murphy says.
So how can you liven up your sex life when you’re trying to conceive? Murphy recommends couples try to have sex at different times of the day and in different rooms. They can even give role-playing a try. Perhaps most importantly, don’t limit your time, which can create more pressure, especially for the men.
“It’s about creating a mood, not the act itself,” Murphy says.
4. Squash the Fertility Talk
Give yourself a break on Valentine’s Day about any topic related to infertility, your fertility treatments, or your struggles in trying to conceive. Valentine’s Day is about you and your partner, so spend some time focusing on your relationship.
“Make the fertility topic off limits,” says Murphy. “Don’t focus on fertility today. Just enjoy being together and exploring each other.”
What does this mean? If you’re not ovulating on or around Valentine’s Day, think about being intimate with your partner anyway. Have sex for fun, not for trying to conceive.
5. Make Your Own Valentine’s Day
There’s a lot of pressure to be romantic and sexy on Valentine’s Day, but what about the other 364 days of the year? Rather than making intimacy a priority on just one day, it can be helpful to bring that way of thinking to other months of the year.
“Valentine’s Day is just one day,” says Murphy. “We should make an emphasis other days, several times a month, to have a Valentine’s Day at that time.”
Think of sex not only as a tool for procreation, but as a way to feel closer to your partner. Don’t reserve sex and intimacy only for the days you are ovulating.
“Put an effort into making sure you’re intimate other times during the week, when you are not trying to conceive,” says Murphy.