Infertility, Intimacy and “Homework Fatigue”

The inability to conceive can take a couple on an emotional roller-coaster ride. In addition, infertility has also been shown to be a risk factor for female sexual dysfunction.

A case-control study was conducted with 119 infertile woman and 99 healthy female controls without infertility between the ages of 18 and 45.  It was found that the group of infertile women had a lower score in desire, arousal and a lower frequency of sexual encounters. It followed that their satisfaction was also lower. Why does this happen?

When the goal is pregnancy, there is only a 24 hour window of opportunity each cycle.  That is, the egg is viable for 24 hours while the sperm is viable for 72 hours.  Sex on demand eliminates any spontaneity.  The focus of sex becomes conception, rather than pleasure. All this can lead to pressure to perform and conceive which may lead to less satisfaction.

Infertility can also affect a woman’s sense of herself and her sexual identity.  Males accordingly may be affected and become depressed, experience performance anxiety, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction.

Now add in the effects of certain fertility medications. Although the effects are short lived, these drugs may have to be used repeatedly. They suppress ovulation for IVF cycles and can cause decreased libido along with vaginal dryness and pain.  Drugs like Clomiphene (Clomid) are used to induce ovulation but can cause nausea, breast tenderness, hot flashes and mood swings.  This is certainly not a great way to “bring sexy back!”

What to do?  Talk with your doctor.  There may be alternatives to certain medications. Talk with your partner. Just being aware of possible concerns may help.  If necessary, seek the counsel of a therapist who is knowledgeable about sexual issues.  When lovemaking has to be an assignment, remember how pleasurable impromptu sex can be, that it isn’t always going to be about procreation.

Keep your eyes on the prize and realize that you can turn that roller coaster ride into the tunnel of love!

About Dr. Renee Horowitz

Dr. Renee Horowitz is a fellow with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a member of the American Medical Association, the American Medical Women’s Association, and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. She also is affiliated with the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, and DMC Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.

Speak Your Mind