November 08, 2010

Conception Sex

by Lady J

When you're trying to have a baby, you can take all your “preconceived” notions about the birds and the bees... and toss them out the window.

There Will Be a Test...

My doctor recommended I determine when I was ovulating by adding and subtracting numbers corresponding with days in my cycle, even drawing a number line reminiscent of junior high algebra. When I noted that I was a) chronically irregular and b) not so handy with an abacus, he said ovulation predictor kits could aid someone as irregular as me, although they’re not always reliable and counting the days of one’s cycle to estimate ovulation works just fine.

He said he rarely advocates basal thermometers as it takes months to establish a pattern; the body’s temperature variations are extremely slight; and because they alert you to ovulation after it’s already happened.

Still, I made a beeline to the store to purchase the allegedly unnecessary products for my pregnancy arsenal. In the months that followed, my frustration grew incrementally with each unsuccessful go-round. And Frustration did not come alone: He was accompanied by his pals Desperation, Urgency and Aggravation, all of whom were responsible for making the sex I was having less than stellar.

In talking to girlfriends in similar situations a pattern emerged. While we were all having more sex than ever, it wasn’t necessarily the most enjoyable sex. Sex had become a means to an end. There was pressure to perform. And our husbands and boyfriends—who initially enjoyed our newfound sexual aggression—were now becoming frustrated with the lack of intimacy.

“I’m your husband, not a sperm donor!” my friend claimed her spouse balked one night. When I relayed this to my husband and an empathetic expression crossed his face, I recognized something had to change.

I began researching ways to curtail the bedroom frustration, which I learned is a relatively common scenario. And so, to preserve your sanity, before embarking on the journey to parenthood I recommend familiarizing yourself with the all-too-common bedroom pitfalls couples experience while trying to conceive, and how experts recommend you avoid them.

Break the Routine

“When couples are trying to conceive, it takes the spontaneity out of the act,” Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, professor emerita at Rutgers University College of Nursing in Newark, N.J., said to Leslie Piper in an article for This lack of impulse can quickly lead to boredom in the bedroom. But while conception may dictate the days you’re having sex, it need not dictate the other variables.

Making small changes to your sexual repertoire can work wonders. Try changing the location of your interludes: different rooms around the house or, for the more brazen, different destinations around your town (within reason … I’m certainly not encouraging any public indecency). Even changing the time of day can take the predictability out of the equation. Rather than going through the perfunctory motions after a long day, why not squeeze in a quickie before the alarm goes off in the morning?

The Power of Seduction

By the time you and your partner are trying to conceive, you’ve likely been together awhile. As relationships progress and sex becomes more of a “given” than a conquest, seduction and foreplay often wane. Combined with an “I-am-ovulating-so-you-need-to-perform-NOW” mentality, the stage is set for rushed, resentful and disconnected intercourse.

In their book italic], authors Patty Doyle Debano, Courtney Edgerton Menzel and Shelly Dicken Suthphen advise women not to underestimate the importance of seduction and foreplay during this time. While it’s perfectly acceptable to feel a sense of urgency during ovulation, both partners should remind themselves to slow down, relax and make the experience enjoyable.

Instead of the woman shrieking “It’s time” and lying spread-eagle on the bed, couples should recall the early days of their relationships when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, drawing on those times for inspiration.

Women, try ditching that boxer/T-shirt combo and treat yourself to some new lingerie. Men, try giving your lady a sensual massage using scented oil. As Doyle, Menzel and Sutphen say: “While the goal of sex during your fertile window will always be the same, don’t lose sight of some sense of romance. You’re ultimately going to end up at the same destination. Why not enjoy the view along the way?”

They continually remind us that to get out of a rut—or sidestep it altogether—it’s crucial that you and your partner make your sessions vehicles for renewed intimacy, not merely exercises in reproduction.

Unfortunately, I cannot say my quest to conceive has ended. While, at four months of trying, we’re still within the average timetable for conception, I’m leaving nothing to chance. I’ve stocked up on this month’s supply of ovulation tests, downloaded an Iphone ovulation-tracker app and invested in a fertility bracelet which, if not actually powerful, will hopefully be effective on psychosomatic levels. What I can report, however, is that my husband and I have certainly found our way out of the rut we’d fallen into. And, with any luck, our next issue will be finding the time and inclination for sex amidst the pitter-patter of little feet.