Love & Sex Week: My Infertility Improved My Sex Life

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The other day I was talking to a mother of my child’s classmate. She’s very open about whatever is on her mind. At one point she checked her phone for a text message and blurted out how she’s ovulating and needs to get home so that they can have sex. I said, “Good on you” and went back to looking for my child.

Later that week, she told me that her infertility is the best thing that ever happened to her sex life. She reports that her husband generally has a lower libido than she does, which has led to some serious frustrations and counseling. At first they were dramatically different — she wanted sex three times a day, every day, and her husband was more on the one-to-two times a week schedule. He worked on having sex with her more and she worked on being satisfied with less sex.

They read books and they learned how to communicate better and they were able to work to meet their needs. But while the first baby had been conceived before they’d even gotten married, the next baby wasn’t coming at all. She was frustrated and at first she thought her husband didn’t care. But after a few years, he was growing concerned. She says he wants a baby so much that he now has sex with her all the time. She loves it so much that she’s less concerned about the second baby coming along.

Other friends of mine, an older couple with four children, were talking to my husband and me about natural family planning. After they had their first child and were trying to wait a little bit before the second, the wife handled her ovulation cycle and would just let her husband know if there was anything he needed to know about refraining from sex. They followed the same protocol after the second child although they then struggled to get pregnant once they wanted to. In fact, they ended up adopting their third child. While they were hoping for that third child, they ended up talking to each other much more about the wife’s body. They said it led to greater intimacy, too. When the husband was at the point of checking his wife’s mucus and cervix for ovulation, they knew they’d crossed an intimacy threshold. They enjoyed their sex life more when they were being so open and honest with each other. Baby #4 came when they were both in their 40s, nearly 15 years after their first one. And for the record, this couple clearly exhibit a love and tenderness to this day even though they’re about to be grandparents.

Not everyone can report the same thing. Another friend of mine, who says that she was never the most sexual person to begin with, is deeply frustrated by her infertility. She resents her husband for not doing more to help them conceive or caring about how upset she is and she is so discouraged by their inability to conceive that she has fallen into depression. She says that the months where they barely have sex are less painful because she’s not as hopeful that she’ll conceive.

Speaking as someone who has experienced infertility, I understand that. One month during our infertility, my husband was so focused on getting us pregnant that we had sex multiple times a day, every single day. It was a ton of fun and we were sure that we’d get pregnant. We didn’t. That disappointment hurt me more than the other months. But it also taught me to just be thankful for the sex that we do get to have and to just enjoy our marital relationships for their own sake, even if they don’t produce any children. [tagbox tag=”sex”]

My friend whose infertility has not led to a great sex life has also gotten a bit up in her head about sex. She has trouble enjoying it because it seems so completely focused on attempts to conceive instead of fun times with her husband. The more she struggles to enjoy it, the less she enjoys it. I don’t even know what to say to her about that since whatever problems they’re having are probably quite tangled. She did say that I gave one good piece of advice, though, so I’ll mention it here. I’d been reading a Caitlin Flanagan book that was talking about spousal duties. There was a line about how sometimes you don’t want to go for a boat ride but once you dip your oars into the water, you’re surprised to be having a fun time. I can’t remember how the line went, actually. But the point is that sometimes even if our intentions aren’t totally the best, if we can just enjoy the blessing of sex in the midst of the hellish battle against trouble conceiving, it’s for the best.

As for me, I have to go. I’m not ovulating but I’m about to get my monthly visitor and I want one more good romp in the hay before then with my fantastic husband.