It is a fact that when you are TTC it is very easy to become obsessed about sex…but sadly not in an attractive ‘sexy’ kind of obsessed way. For a lot of couples, the appeal sex once had, shifts from passion and desire to simply mechanics. It becomes instrumental, rather than a thing of pleasure
For many, sex serves one purpose, to make a baby, and it is very easy to become obsessed with the mechanics, especially if it isn’t working.
With so much pressure to get it just right, it is very easy to start believing all the old wives tales. So, we turned to Dr Natalia Szlarb, Gynaecologist, fertility specialist and medical director at IVF-Spain to bust the myths and take away some of the pressure.
Q: Is there any truth in the old wives tales that putting your legs in the air or lying following intercourse helps you to get pregnant? Is there a certain position that is going to help?
A: No. There is no evidence that any sexual position will help with conception.
Q: There has also apparently been a study, which found women who had more orgasms had higher pregnancy rates. Is this true? Could the act of climax suck up sperm like a vacuum perhaps?
A: Again, there is no evidence on this matter either. But…the truth is that, even if the link between orgasms and pregnancy hasn’t been established yet, there is one between orgasm and sexual intercourse – the more pleasure you have, the more sex you want. And, it’s a fact that if you have sexual relations frequently, your chances of getting pregnant are higher.
Q: Some women experience vaginal dryness which makes sex painful. Can you firstly explain why the body produces a natural lubrication, and why it can dry up for some pre menopausal women?
A: Lubrication is produced by hormones – oestrogens. Women’s natural production of oestrogen varies during each cycle and during her life. This is why they lubricate more during the first part of their cycle and less towards the end, and for the same reason, women approaching menopause produce less oestrogen and therefore experience more vaginal dryness.
On this subject, you have to know that this dryness issue often doesn’t exist when you are undergoing a fertility treatment, because one of its main medications is indeed oestrogen. We often talk about the negative aspects of having more hormones in your body, but there are also some good – more lubrication, and more sexual desire too!
Q: Can this dryness reduce the chances of conception?
Q: If you are having IVF, how long should the man abstain from sex before giving his sperm to the clinic for fertilisation?
A: 48 hours.
Q: Should a couple abstain from sex during a round of IVF?
A: Not at all. The only restriction is 7 to 10 days after the egg retrieval and after the embryo transfer. Your clinic should give you this instruction in their post-procedure document after each one of them.
Q: For couples who really do not feel like having sex due to the pressure of trying to conceive, and for those who no longer see sex as fun, what do you say to them? Do you have counsellors who can help them reconnect during a time when they really need to feel connected?
A: Well, this is an interesting question because it’s the case of the large majority of the couples coming to us and in our case it’s an easy one because our patients have passed through the stage of “programmed sexual intercourse” which is often the first step when you detect a fertility issue. When you do IUI or IVF, sex doesn’t enter in the process of the conception any more. The conception part is done at the lab by the lab. It might sound strange but sex doesn’t have a conception purpose anymore, it’s just for fun! Many couples didn’t realise that before we put it this way to them, and it helps.
As for counsellors, we collaborate with a few, the main one in the UK is a person you already know, Andreia Trigo from Infertile Life. In fact, we are collaborating in a clinical research she designed called Reproductive Health Worldwide which studies the connection between the success of fertility treatments and the improvement of patient’s health, lifestyle and environment.
Finally, if couples need more help and ask me personally for my advice, I always recommend they find a way to make a change – whatever suits them, such as a holiday, use gels, talk more about sex, watch romantic movies together… anything. We find that when patients come to us here in Spain for treatment and stay here for a week, they usually change their perspective of IVF. Except for their appointments at the clinic, the rest of the time here is like a holiday and it’s a quality time that our patients really appreciate.
If you have any questions about sex or relationships, please do drop us a line, (firstname.lastname@example.org) or get in touch with Dr Natalia Szlarb directly by clicking here.