4 Tips For Dealing With Intimacy Issues While Trying To Conceive
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Let’s face it. Timed sex is annoying and often anything but sexy. It can also quickly turn depressing when a two-week wait ends in a negative pregnancy test. Rinse, wash, and repeat that month after month, and suddenly your sex life is no longer sexy. Sometimes it can even be a point of anger and frustration between you and the person you love.
My husband and I struggled to conceive our first child for two and a half years. As my husband likes to say in man speak, “we were 0 for 30”. And in a way, he’s right... we hadn’t “scored” once in 30 months. Can you imagine how depressing it would be to play for that team?
Those 30 months were the toughest of our marriage. They were emotional, often lonely, and sadly, filled with unnecessary self-shaming.
Month after month we were on an emotional roller-coaster. Both of us were required to “try” whether we wanted to or not because of the short ovulation window. Naturally, it didn’t take long for us to start fighting.
Sometimes it's a Tuesday, and you’re just tired. If he was exhausted and not in the mood, my insistence and the emotional pressure I felt at the possibility of missing my window only made it even less sexy. I maybe didn’t have to “do” anything, but he did; he had to perform.
Along the way, we tried all the diets, books, vitamins, etc. But the pressure to have sex every month specifically during my window kept building and sometimes we’d miss a window because we were so…out of sync. And then the pressure would build even more.
As co-founder of a fertility company with my husband, I often get asked about our journey, what we did, and what we didn’t do. I’ve had a lot of time to think about and digest this, especially as my life's mission now centers on helping people who are struggling or facing obstacles to conceive. And so to all those out there in the thick of it, here are a few honest tips from someone who has made it to the other side:
Teach yourself and your husband about your body and the conception process. And I can tell you are already doing this because you're here on the Rescripted site, so three cheers for you! But how much does your partner know? Like, really know, about how much his overall health can affect his sperm health?
In our society, most men presume that if there’s a problem with conception, it’s not theirs. I mean, let’s be honest, most men pretty much think their sperm is amazing and can get a woman pregnant instantaneously! You might be surprised at how little he knows! Does he know about cervical mucus, your cervix, or about how an egg is released from your ovaries only during ovulation? The more he knows, the better prepared he’ll be as a dad to talk to your kids about this topic when the time comes.
This may sound weird but… when things got pressurized and stressful with us on our journey to conceive, I noticed we kind of stopped touching each other. Not in a sexual way but in a normal way, like cuddling on the couch or holding hands. I love cuddling. I love snuggling. But for whatever reason, this process had made us so…distant.
A snuggle at night in bed wasn’t like it used to be. My husband started thinking, “is she only initiating sex because she’s ovulating?” And if he didn’t feel like snuggling I started getting all in my head about it. Was it because he was depressed about the endless big fat negative cycles, just like me?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to give myself a hug and to give him an even bigger hug. It sounds lame, but we really did stop connecting through touch when we were in the worst of it all. And that could have been a simple way for us to not feel so alone after all.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to think outside the box when trying to conceive. Failing month after month is depressing and can take its toll on your sex life! And the thought of involving doctors even more so. We wanted a break. We wanted another way to try at home that took the pressure off, something proven that we could be proud of using as part of our conception process. That’s why we feel so passionately about normalizing home insemination with products like the Mosie Kit.
Home insemination is actually very easy, affordable, and frequently encouraged by doctors. We hear from couples time and time again how it helped them take the pressure off. We’ve even had people use Mosie in conjunction with IUI. Doctors often tell couples to go home and have sex in 24-36 hours, but the stress of that process can be a lot, so many have used the Mosie Kit during this intense time. Mosie didn’t exist when we were in the thick of it, but it does now, and we hope men and women realize that a baby made this way is made with a ton of love.
I know, it’s always so easy to suggest this, but we all know it can actually become really difficult. I put this last on the list not because it’s least important, but because it’s the most important. It’s so important to remind each other that we’re all on the same team. Sharing the pressure and anxiety you’re feeling when trying to conceive can bring up really raw emotions. Not sharing this experience will have its own consequences bubble up in the form of resentment or blame.
Our ability to become pregnant as women, and our ability as men to get a woman pregnant, are so woven into the identity of what it means to be a man or a woman that we often feel like failures when it doesn’t happen. Give yourself a moment to catch your breath after that negative test. Then try to find a moment to talk to your partner.
If talking seems too hard, try writing it down. I recommend paper over text or email because you have greater control over what you say and how you say it. Also, be mindful of when they receive it. If you send your message during the workday, and they catch it during a high-stress meeting, your message may not receive the thoughtful consideration you hoped for. So try to find the right moment for you and for them.
Your partner is probably feeling a lot of similar emotions too that they may be holding in for their own reasons—often because they're feeling shame or guilt for not “scoring"—and they probably don’t have a lot of people to talk to about that. My husband Marc made a video called “Trying to Conceive Sucks” for just this reason: men don’t talk about this topic for fear of being perceived as not “manly” enough.
So How Did Our TTC Story End..?
After a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility,” we looked for another way to inseminate at home in an effort to avoid invasive and expensive clinical procedures. We were shocked to find there was nothing out there designed for at-home insemination. All we wanted was to know that we truly had tried everything we could before spending thousands at a doctor’s office (with no guarantees of success).
We tried re-purposing various syringes as they seemed closest to what we thought was needed but it was mostly a hot mess. Aside from being awkward and uncomfortable, it was also kinda weird to put things designed for other purposes into my vagina. And none of them handled sperm delicately—many wasted it or trapped it. Needless to say, they didn’t work for us.
So we decided to create Mosie, the first syringe designed specifically to help you get pregnant in the privacy of your own home and on your own terms. But Mosie was only a drawing at that time and we still desperately wanted to get pregnant. So we went through with IUI, and thankfully we got pregnant!
But we kept wondering, why isn’t there something simple people can use at home? Maybe we just needed a break from the pressure of trying? Maybe our parts weren’t lining up? Maybe this, maybe that. All the maybes ran through my brain!
So we talked it over and decided to press on, and after conversations with doctors, lawyers, engineers, and our families, we took a loan out on our house and started Mosie Baby. We launched the Mosie Kit, which comes with 2 Mosie syringes, a collection cup, and educational and supportive instructions. We’ve also recently done our own take on pregnancy tests and ovulation tests, offering a supportive experience for all those peeing on a test!
We were lucky to get pregnant with our first child through IUI, and again lucky to get pregnant with our second using a prototype of Mosie. I consider both pregnancies a privilege and rejoice in the wonder of motherhood every day. Neither of my children was conceived the old-fashioned way, and I could care less. Both were conceived with more love than anyone could ever imagine. My husband and I had to go out of our way, physically and mentally, to conceive, twice! This is something to be celebrated and proud of!
My heart goes out to those struggling with fertility and the often long journey of trying to conceive. I want you to know that you are not alone. And I want you to be okay talking about how your child was conceived when you do get pregnant. You will have worked hard to get pregnant and you never gave up because of a burning love deep inside you—a love that brought your bundle of joy into the world.
Talk about it. It’s okay. And it’s okay to talk about it now during your journey. There is someone out there who needs to hear your story. Thank you for hearing mine.
Maureen Brown is co-founder of Mosie Baby with her husband Marc. She’s always happy to chat with folks about the journey of trying to conceive, at-home insemination, or anything vagina-related! Reach out to her through Instagram @mosiebaby or through www.mosiebaby.com.