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Love, Sex and Infertility
In 2006, after failing to get pregnant the natural way, my gynecologist gave me an unusual prescription: take my husband out on a date when I was ovulating, skip wearing underwear and have sex in the back of the car. Not the kind to go against doctors orders, we parked on a deserted road underneath the Hollywood Sign and did the wild thing in a tangle of arms, legs and bumped heads. It did not work, but it’s one of the times I remember actually having fun during our baby hunt.
Now, a new study from the Indiana University School Of Public Health confirms what we veterans of the infertility battle already know—sex, purely for the purpose of creating babies, can become like going to the gym; you don’t necessarily want to do it, but because the pay off could be huge, you grit your teeth and get it done. Here’s an excerpt from the study, with my comments in italics:
“Compared to a sample of healthy women (I didn’t realize infertile women were unhealthy! Unhappy, perhaps, but speaking for myself, I was at my fittest when I was trying to have a baby), women undergoing IVF reported significantly less sexual desire, interest in sexual activity and satisfaction with their sexual relationship (my husband and I once had sex five days in a row, a desperate ovulation induced marathon that ended in another negative pregnancy test. This was like overdosing on Haagen Dazs—it curbed my craving for a while). Similar to emotional and relationship challenges associated with assisted reproductive technologies, the sexual problems intensified as a couple’s use of ART proceeded (yes, indeed. By IVF #7, the very sexless option of adoption was looking pretty good).
I don’t mean to make light of an issue that has the potential to douse the fun and connectivity in a relationship. But no one can control this serious side effects of infertility better than those going through it. The Indiana researchers found that the couples who made a conscious effort to accept the fact that sex had turned into a science experiment--and experiment with way to make it good--reported fewer problems. So, if possible, stop looking at sex as a necessary evil and start getting down and dirty again. Throw on that French Maid Halloween costume you wore before baby making became all consuming. Hop in the bathtub with your husband and have him wash your hair. Then wash his. Wield that can of whip cream like you used to in college. This all goes back to the point my gynecologist was trying to make when he urged me to have sex in the car. It won’t always work—either to make a baby or to reignite passion—but every so often it can take us back to who we were before infertility bullied its way between the sheets.
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