The most romantic day of the year is coming up and we want to share a (not-so-secret) secret: one of the surest ways to dampen the mood this weekend is to schedule in sex.
Now we know that sounds harsh, but stay with us! We hope you’re planning on intimacy this weekend, but because it’s something you want to do and not something you have to do just because it’s Valentine’s Day. As soon as physical intimacy becomes about completing the act of sex and not about enjoying it, it gets a lot less fun and defeats the purpose of being a special connection between you and your partner.
Now, we’re not talking about “scheduled sex” just because of the upcoming holiday. We hear from so many women in our community who are trying to conceive and struggling to keep sex fun and stress-free, so we thought this was a good moment to share some tips. TTC is a time when planning exactly when you’ll have sex is common (and even recommended!). There is nothing wrong with setting a calendar reminder on your ovulation day, but there is a delicate balance between planning sex and still having fun with it.
If you and your partner have actively been trying to conceive for more than a few cycles (which is very normal, as it takes most couples between 3-12 months to conceive), sex can start to feel like a chore as you become hyper-focused on getting pregnant. That can impact everything from your relationship, to your stress levels, and your enjoyment of sex itself. So, we have 6 tips for how you can keep sex fun while you’re trying to conceive, as recommended by real couples and experts!
1. Focus on foreplay to bring back the fun
Foreplay plays an important role in raising oxytocin (aka the ‘bonding’ or ‘love’ hormone) levels for both you and your partner, which can be beneficial to your conception goals. Not only will those increased oxytocin levels make you two feel closer, it’s also associated with lower cortisol levels and reduced blood pressure (aka less stress).
2. Communicate your wishes
Sex is a shared experience between you and your partner that blends both physical and emotional intimacy. Keeping open communication as to what makes you both feel good and loved is so important. Feeling safe and supported in communicating your wishes and desires can also take your sex life into a new, and exciting, sphere.
3. Sleep in the buff
People generally fall into two camps on this topic: either totally up for it or totally against it. And that’s OK! But it is interesting to look at the benefits associated with sleeping naked, and how it can filter back into your sex life. Sleep experts point to benefits including fall asleep faster and staying asleep longer (due to better body temperature regulation), and better sleep overall can have a waterfall of positive impacts. But sleeping naked can also boost body confidence as a study published in the Journal of Happiness found that sleeping naked was associated with more positive body image and higher self esteem; and low self-esteem is often associated with low sex drive. But there’s even more to it! Sleeping naked increases your chance of skin-to-skin contact, and that contact naturally increases oxytocin, and can lead to fun and spontaneous intercourse.
4. Enjoy your alone time
So many of us are spending extended time with our partners at home due to the ongoing pandemic, and while that can mean even more opportunities for sex throughout the day, it can also make you… less excited to see each other. Now, more than ever, it’s important to take time for yourself and recharge your own batteries, so that you can enjoy the time you do spend together even more. And if you want to enjoy your alone time doing that, that’s cool too, because getting in touch with your own body is so important to sexual satisfaction!
5. Learn how your diet impacts your libido
The foods you eat have a significant impact on your moods, your energy, and your libido! At the end of the day a balanced diet that’s rich in veggies, lean protein and healthy fats is going to help maintain hormone levels (which impact your sex drive). Good hydration also plays a role as it aids the production of cervical mucus. Low levels of cervical mucus can contribute to uncomfortable vaginal dryness, and basically, healthier cervical mucus means better chances of becoming pregnant and a more satisfying sex life with your partner.
One last note on your diet and how it impacts your sex life, but this is more of a timing tip: don’t have sex on a full stomach. Digestion requires a lot of energy and it diverts blood to the gut to help break down and absorb all that food – and energy and blood flow are both important for a guy’s performance. For women, sex drive can also be hampered by a full stomach – so it’s best to get it on before tucking into a big meal, or after you’ve had time to digest.
6. Tune into your cycles
A 10-year study from the New England Journal of Medicine found that having sex during the 6 days before ovulation (that’s your fertile window!) increases the likelihood of conception. That’s why tracking cycles is highly recommended when you’re TTC. However, this can lead to over-scheduling sex and making it all about timing and less about enjoying. We definitely recommend tuning into your cycles, but we want to encourage you think of it from a different angle: research also shows that women’s sex drive actually increases for 6 days each cycle, beginning 4-5 days before ovulation (again, your fertile window, how convenient!). So, use those cycles to tune into your body and when you feel that sex drive rising, take advantage of it and have some fun.
We know the Trying To Conceive process is so unique and complex from couple to couple, and simply “having fun” with sex is not a silver bullet. But your sex life is a really important part of the health of your relationship and your own wellbeing. For more tips on relationship health while you’re trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and into postpartum, be sure to download our app (available on iOS and now on Android).