Many couples struggle to maintain spontaneity in their sex lives in the midst of fertility treatment that demands intrusions (such as abstinence, timed intercourse, providing semen samples) to the “normal” routine of sex. It can be really easy to lose the feeling of intimacy with your partner if it feels like a third person (your fertility doctor) has a foot in the door of your bedroom. It might feel even worse when your attempts to fall pregnant have been going for a while, and it starts to feel like you have started to lose “each other” as sex becomes more functional than fun.
This loss of intimacy can be tough to prevent, but it can be managed. Most importantly, as a couple, set aside time to talk about how you are feeling. And not in an “I want more sex” kind of way, but more of an “I miss you, I miss us” kind of way. This emotional communication opens the door to maintain intimacy in other ways — by being open and vulnerable with each other you have automatically achieved emotional intimacy — and that is really important while you are going through tough times together.
The other important strategy is maintaining other types of physical intimacy — spending time where you are physically close, holding hands, cuddling and kissing, giving each other a massage — all of this helps to maintain the closeness while you wait for that positive pregnancy result and means that when it happens, you are still working well as a couple, rather than having forgotten why you were trying to make a baby in the first place.
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Narelle Dickinson is a Clinical and Health Psychologist and fertility counsellor working in Brisbane, Australia. She speaks with people about a whole range of issues, but most often, clients come to discuss their infertility or the treatment they are undertaking to help them achieve a pregnancy, including donor conception and surrogacy. She has a particular passion for working with people who have experienced pregnancy or neonatal loss.