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How Infertility & Trying to Conceive Changes Sex

Anna Hecker writes articles about fertility and parenting and books about teenagers. Her latest young adult novel, "WHEN THE BEAT DROPS", comes out in May, 2018. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and fluffy bundle of glamor, C...

Baby-making sex doesn’t have to suck: How to do it when you’re trying to conceive

Nothing kills a lady-boner faster than having to screw on command. Before I started trying to conceive, I was an “anytime, any place, any excuse” kind of woman. (I think that’s one of the reasons my husband married me.) My husband and I got busy in the ocean in Hawaii, his office after hours and the bathroom at our friends’ wedding (gross, but in our defense, we’d had a lot of Champagne).

Then I had to go and ruin it by wanting a baby. Suddenly, sex was a chore. It had to be done on a schedule, and we couldn’t just yank up our pants and get on with things afterward. Plus, there were stakes. If we did it wrong, I’d still be childless in my mid-30s, and did you know your fertility really starts to decline around then? (Said everyone who’s had a conversation with a woman in her 30s ever.)

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Somehow, my husband and I managed to endure three years of increasingly desperate baby-making sex and still end up liking each other. We even still bone for fun sometimes! During those years, I learned a lot about the do's and don’ts of TTC (trying to conceive) sex — and later, when we turned to fertility treatments, I had the chance to pose a lot of embarrassing sex questions to doctors. Here’s everything I learned:

1. Do not endure 3 years of increasingly desperate baby-making sex

According to a study by Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands, doctors recommend having timed intercourse for 12 months (six if you’re over 35) before seeking medical treatment. I knew this, yet somehow kept thinking if I just changed my diet, got a new ovulation-predictor kit or tried acupuncture/yoga/meditation/therapy, I’d get knocked up.

Don’t be like me. Bone for a year, then see a doctor. Your sex life (and your sanity) will thank you.

2. Get an ovulation-predictor kit

Ovulation-predictor kits take the guesswork out of when to do it — no more taking your temperature and trying to figure out if your cervical mucus is “cloudy” or “egg-white.” You pee on a stick every morning for the first half of your cycle, and it reads the luteinizing hormone levels in your urine to tell you how close you are to ovulating. If you’re close, you get it on. If not, you get to watch The Office in your sweats.

3. Don’t expect honeymoon sex

Honestly, baby-making sex probably won’t blow your mind. I’m not going to tell you to spice it up with lingerie or dirty talk, because that’s just going to feel contrived — and TTC sex is already pretty contrived. When I was in the trenches, I liked to think of it as masturbation with another person. You do it so you’ll stop feeling crazy, and the goal is for you to come. (Don’t worry about your partner's orgasm. It’ll happen.)

Instead of trying to experiment, resort to your best-of playlist: the sequence most likely to get you aroused and the position most likely to get you off. You can save the creative stuff for the two-week wait when you need to blow off steam.

4. Please come

According to a joint study by researchers at University of Queensland in Australia and Abo Akedemi University in Finland, the jury’s still out on whether your orgasm can actually help push sperm to your egg. But there’s one thing it definitely can do: help you chill the hell out. TTC is stressful, and orgasms are a proven stress-buster. So, when you’re trying to make a baby, remember to do whatever it takes to get off: whether you’re using your partner’s appendage, his fingers or tongue, your fingers (or tongue if you’re a contortionist) or a vibe. Because honestly (and this should go without saying), you deserve to orgasm every time you have sex — always.

5. Oral is A-OK

For a while, oral sex was banned from my TTC routine because I’d read that saliva can slow down sperm. When I asked my reproductive endocrinologist about it, she looked at me like I was crazy and said it would have to be, like, a cup full of spit. So, by all means, go down on each other if it helps get you in the mood. Just (duh) don’t let him come in your mouth.

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6. But be kinda careful with lube

Some ingredients in commercial lubricant really can slow sperm down, warns Kazim R. Chohan, director of the Andrology Laboratory at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse via Reuters. That doesn’t mean you should skip it, just go for a TTC-friendly lube like Pre-Seed.

7. Snuggle for 15 minutes after

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no evidence that spending an hour after sex with your legs up in the air like a roast chicken is more likely to get you pregnant. However, there is evidence (via a Dutch study published in the British Medical Journal) that lying down for 15 minutes increased pregnancy outcomes in women undergoing intrauterine insemination. Whether or not it really helps, it’s a great time to reconnect with your husband: laugh about the awkwardness of TTC, bitch about that coworker who keeps stealing your yogurt from the fridge or dream up baby names.

While it’s unlikely that anyone’s baby-making sex will inspire the next Fifty Shades of Grey, it still has benefits beyond the obvious. At best, you get a baby. And at worst — hey, at least you get laid!

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