Keeping Intimacy Alive in Stressful Times

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Let’s face it—trying for a baby can be stressful, and the longer it takes, the more stressful it gets. And sex, something that is meant to be a pleasurable bonding experience, can start to feel like work as it becomes a means to an end. It is, of course, valuable to know when a woman is ovulating and to plan intercourse around those times, but it can be stressful for both partners when the pressure is on to conceive. And to make matters worse… too much stress can negatively affect conception. So what’s a couple to do?

Last year I had the opportunity to attend an educational seminar with Zita West, an acupuncturist, midwife and nutritionist who runs one of the largest integrative fertility clinics in the UK. She shared that many of the couples that come to see her have developed a relationship to sex that is stressful and unfulfilling, making sex feel more like a chore and putting a strain on the relationship.  She mentioned that the advice she gives her patients is to make it part of their lifestyle to make love at least three times a week throughout the month (except, of course, when a woman is menstruating). In addition to boosting immunity and burning calories, regular sex reduces the stress response, fosters intimacy and improves self-esteem, among other positive attributes.

During a woman’s fertile period, intercourse at least every second or third day is adequate to allow fertilization, so with this frequency of intercourse there is no need to even be mindful of when a woman may be fertile. And intercourse on a regular basis helps with male fertility as well. If a man goes for more than five days without ejaculating, then the sperm start to die, and as they decay they release toxins which can damage the fresh sperm being produced. But if you’re having intercourse at least three times a week, then there is no opportunity for this deterioration of sperm, so you are also encouraging a more optimal environment for sperm production.  Zita West discusses this more in her book Zita West’s Guide to Fertility and Assisted Conception: Essential Advice on Preparing your Body for IVF and Other Fertility Treatments.

For couples who are finding that they are having difficulty getting the spark back into their sex life, why not take this opportunity to expand your sexual horizons? What would create an environment of greater pleasure for you? What have you always wanted to try? There are so many inexpensive books out there geared toward enhancing intimacy and reawakening passion, such as Rekindling Desire by Barry McCarthy and Getting the Sex you Want by Tammy Nelson. And Canadian life coaches Satyen and Suzanne Raja have lots of free advice and inspiration in their blog. Though this site isn’t specifically geared toward couples with fertility challenges, it is an example of some of the free resources that are out there if you go looking for guidance or inspiration. And if a couple feels they need more specific guidance, Dr. Michaela Kadambi, Registered Psychologist, is available at Whole Family Health for discussing relationship difficulties.

So bring the sexy back into your relationship! Invest in yourself and your partnership, whether it is trying out new techniques or positions, some adventurous role playing, or maybe just being more honest with your partner about what you truly desire—add the passion back into your intimate relations and enjoy the deeper connection that you feel as a result. It is important to not lose sight of the reason you are desiring a family in the first place—because you have found an incredible partner that you have a fabulous, loving connection with, a love that is so big it yearns to be shared.

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