It’s February and everywhere you look Valentine’s cards and big red heart-shaped boxes of candy line the shelves. From bouquets of red roses and promises of ˜forever’ the romance and intimacy of the day may be cause for a shy blush here and a hushed whisper there. But for couples with fertility issues, keeping the romance alive in the bedroom and the blushing to a minimum in the doctor’s office may lead to more professions of embarrassment and discomfort than declarations of enduring love.
Dr. Lowell Ku, a leading Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at Dallas IVF, one of the nation’s premiere infertility centers and a member of the Attain Fertility® network, understands the situation better than most. As part of his every-day conversation with patients, Dr. Ku often asks questions and discusses intimate situations that most couples would prefer to keep behind closed doors. From how many times couples have sex a week, to how many partners each have had, the questions, while embarrassing are important in discerning a couple’s fertility issues and treatment. While that is good, it is also normal that questions about sexually transmitted disease, discomfort during intercourse and bouts with erectile dysfunction can quickly take all of the desire and spark out of sex.
When couples are so focused on getting pregnant, the emotional roller-coaster can take all of the romance and intimacy out of sex. Add to that the very personal questions we often ask couples and the situation becomes even more challenging, explains Dr. Ku. The best advice I can give to couples suffering from feeling as if they are sharing TMI, is to remember who they are to each other and that the end result will be a living reflection of the love they share for each other and their baby.
Feelings of loss, being unattractive, and being on a sex-schedule understandably lead to the loss of desire. Everything may begin to feel too planned, too clinical and romance and the excitement and spontaneity of sex may seem to disappear.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, sometimes the greatest thing a couple can do to rekindle the spark, is to not have sex, suggests Stephanie Himel-Nelson, community manager for Attain Fertility. Himel-Nelson recently asked the Attain Fertility community on Facebook how they keep the romance alive while going through infertility treatments and offers the top Keep Romance Alive Five ideas she received from the community:
1. Communication Station: it’s important for partners to talk about their needs. (and while you’re at it, let go of guilt and blame )
2. Try little Tenderness: Take the pressure off and rediscover each other. Find ways to be physically intimate without having sex. Remember how exciting the first kiss was?
3. Location, Location, Location: the bedroom can begin to feel unwelcoming. Be creative! Make reservations for a night out on the town and stay at a hotel.
4. Reduce and Restore: do something to reduce stress and revitalize your energy. Take a yoga class together, make a reservation for a couples massage at a local spa, or just plan a day at the beach or hiking in a local park
5. Take Five (and hide the calendar): The pressure of having sex on a specific day to make a baby is enormous. Be spontaneous and find romance on a non-fertile day, just because.
Couples who make the extra effort may not only find themselves happily pregnant, says Himel-Nelson, they may also find themselves more in love and desirable than ever before.
*Photo, Heart in Knots, by Stephanie Himel-Nelson