I hate sex when I’m trying to conceive
Sex becomes so mechanical and monotonous when it's demoted to just one sole purpose.
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“Should we just…try?”
I remember asking my husband on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago. We had a 1-year-old, who happened to be a surprise pregnancy, and we were ready to expand our family with another baby.
So we tried. And I got pregnant on our first try. Except that pregnancy soon ended in a missed miscarriage, which left my heart aching like never before. Losing that baby made me realize how much I really wanted to have another little one in our family. After getting the OK from my doctor that we could resume having intercourse, things quickly changed from trying to actively wanting to get pregnant.
Related: Everything you need to know about getting pregnant
Turns out, there’s a big difference between happily having unprotected sex when you think you might be ovulating (without putting much more thought into it), and monitoring absolutely everything that happens to your body.
I took my temperature every morning to see when I would be nearing my fertile window. On top of that I took frequent ovulation tests to make sure I wasn’t missing those precious few days when you can get pregnant—and after that, I counted the days until I could take a pregnancy test to see if we had been successful. I logged every little symptom into an app. I checked Reddit’s TTC page regularly to see if there were any tips on what else I could do. And—I’ll say it—I even put my legs up in the air after sex, because who knows, maybe that’s what we needed to be doing all along?
Unlike the first two tries, after the miscarriage we were not having much luck at getting pregnant.
And this is the thing a lot of people don’t talk about: Trying and failing to get pregnant can make sex suck. This act that is intimate, exhilarating, sometimes even magical, suddenly becomes mechanical, planned and predictable. Mostly, it can stop being fun.
Related: I miss how fun and easy sex was before my infertility struggles
“We need to have sex tonight,” I would announce to my husband, “actually, tonight, tomorrow and the day after just in case, so we don’t miss the window.” After months of negative tests the idea of having to initiate something so raw was demoralizing.
I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I don’t think my husband was either. We had to have sex even if we didn’t feel like it because that tiny window was closing super fast every single month. So it didn’t matter if we were tired from running after our toddler, or if we had had a stressful day at work. It had to happen. And it sucked.
I wanted to enjoy sex—after all, it’s one of the many things that made me choose my partner for the rest of our lives—but we were both feeling the pressure of what was supposed to happen afterward, that kept not happening for us.
Related: Here’s why you might be having pain during sex
Eventually, it did, which I know is not the case for everyone. Ironically, in our case, I got pregnant again the month I decided to stop tracking everything and take a break from trying to conceive. I wanted to enjoy the summer without this gray cloud that followed me everywhere, reminding me of what I couldn’t achieve.
I got pregnant the first month I stopped tracking almost all my symptoms (I say “almost all” because I did sneak an ovulation test when I had a hunch something was happening).
Related: Ovulation tests can improve your chances of conceiving, study shows
So to the mama who is trying (and trying and trying and trying), I see you. I know how monotonous it can all get. I know how guilty you might be feeling about not loving this part of the journey. Whichever route life takes you through, know you are not alone, and I hope you can get to your destination soon, in the meantime, please try to remember that your pleasure matters, and you deserve to enjoy sex with your partner, no matter what else might happen as a result.
A version of this story was originally published on Aug. 14, 2020. It has been updated.