7 Ways To Make Preconception Sex Actually Sexy Again
If trying to get pregnant has ever felt more like conducting a science experiment than making love with your partner, you’re not alone. The company behind the ovulation tracking bracelet Ava recently conducted a fertility and TTC survey of 2,100 women. Among the key findings: 78 percent underestimated the amount of time it takes to get pregnant, while 48 percent weren’t clear on how important it is to time sex around fertile days.
But one of the most disheartening stats has to be that 72 percent of the women surveyed said they have had inconvenient or unromantic sex in order to try to get pregnant. And 47 percent said they have had to "convince a partner" to have sex at a time when he was not in the mood in order to TTC.
Shannon Chavez, Psy.D, an AASECT certified sex therapist in Los Angeles, California, has worked with patients on this very conundrum. "There’s a lot of pressure to make sure [TTC sex] works, and if you’re ovulating, that things are happening at a certain time, and it takes the spontaneity out of it," Chavez acknowledges. "It takes the natural desire out of it, because it’s timed, it’s pressured, it’s scheduled. I find that a lot of women are disconnecting from there being pleasure with that kind of sex. It’s more about, 'I’m focusing on the goal of getting pregnant.'"
While it may be a prevalent issue, Chavez says unenjoyable sex certainly does not have to be something that plagues your attempts to start a family. "We try to say let’s not have goals around sex, but let’s be real: If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s a goal — it’s nothing you should be nervous and anxious about," she says. "It’s important to have a really positive belief around that. I think a lot of women think it’s one or the other: 'I’m either having pleasure or I’m focusing on this goal.' I just want women to tell themselves they can have both. You can have both experiences and enjoy yourself."
Here, seven tips from Chavez to turn the heat up on your stalled TTC sex life.
1. Invest in relaxation time.
Sure, one of you may have to get the older kid off to soccer practice or you have a deadline you need to hit at work and that leaves you a lightning-fast, half-hour window in which to squeeze in a sex session. But to have a steamier time, you’ll want to carve out enough time to wind down before having sex.
Chavez recommends thinking about what relaxes you and then incorporating it into a kind of ritual around sex. That could include taking a hot bath, exercising (which has multiple benefits like boosting feel-good endorphins and making you more relaxed mentally and physically), or setting up your environment (think making the bed with really comfortable, lush linens). The ritual can be something you do alone or with your partner. "Maybe you make a playlist together and you put music that makes you feel nostalgic," Chavez advises. Or light scented candles that bring to mind a sexy or romantic memory you share.
2. Set another intention outside of TTC.
"Make the mindset a little more than 'We have to have sex right now,'" advises Chavez. "Make it a time to connect, and be a couple excited about starting a family, and make a point of spending time together."
For instance, if you know sex is going to happen on a particular night, try to zero in on another "objective" of doing it. "Think, 'I really want to spend time being sensual and close with my partner, because we haven’t seen each other all week or we’ve been super busy,'" Chavez suggests. Sounds simple but the slight shift in perspective can set you up for having even more fun in the moment.
3. Allow it to be a whole body experience.
Again, while it may seem like something there’s not enough time (or, let’s be honest, patience!) for, building in time for foreplay will pay off. "I usually recommend external stimulation first," Chavez notes. That could mean massaging one another from head to toe or asking your partner to rub your shoulders or back. And make sure your partner takes his time below the belt, Chavez recommends.
"Sometimes we focus too much on one body part, like the clitoris," she says. "The more parts of the body you stimulate, the more you allow that physiological response of arousal, which is increasing the blood flow, releasing tension." All of this is helpful for not only increasing pleasure but setting you up for a body-quaking orgasm.
4. Practice mindfulness.
Once you’re actually in the midst of having sex, it’s natural for your mind to drift. Chavez says patients who are trying to get pregnant often admit to thinking "I kind of want it to be over with," or "I’m not really enjoying myself, because I know this is just our scheduled time." But there are several strategies you can deploy to be more present and really embrace the moment, like making eye contact with your partner, grabbing him harder, and running your fingers down your partner's chest or back.
It may also help to focus on how you feel: How is your partner touching you? Does it feel good? What are you enjoying? This will bring you back into the moment, which will enhance your pleasure, Chavez says.
5. Consider using a sex toy.
Anything that bolsters your enjoyment of the moment and elevates your pleasure quotient is beneficial to your connection with your partner and your end game. That said, if you usually enjoy using a vibrator during solo play, you may do well to incorporate it into sex while trying to conceive.
6. Be assertive.
Communication during sex is crucial, Chavez says. Your partner's not a mind-reader, so be specific about what you like and want. Try using a direct statement or question like, "I want you to use the vibrator before we have sex," or "Can you massage my breasts first?"
7. Remember that you deserve to enjoy yourself.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, you might be more focused on your partner (or his orgasm), but you matter too! And above all, you deserve to have mind-blowing, toe-curling, swinging-from-the-chandelier-level sex — so don't be afraid to ask for it.