Infertility Awareness Week: In Which We Discuss Sex

Mothers.  Fathers.  Relatives.  People who feel sex should not be discussed in a public blogging forum.  And, pretty much anyone else who doesn’t want to read about sex.  Feel free to skip over this post.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Ok?  So I can now safely assume anyone left reading this is totally cool with the discussion of sex.  That, or you are curious to know what sex is like in the world of timed intercourse, IUI, and masturbation in a lab room at the local fertility clinic.  The funny thing about this all is, this is so not even about sex.

Chris and I have been doing it for almost 9 years.  We slept together for the first time when we were still friends.  Some would call it our first date.  That’s for another post.  For any of the above aforementioned people who are still curiously reading this who shouldn’t, disregard that.  Just believe that we have been doing it since our wedding night. Ahem. Moving on.

We had great sex.  We still do.  But in recent months, two days a month, especially when we were trying the old fashioned way, was… how do I put this? A means to an end.  Does that sound horrible? An action carried out for the sole purpose of achieving something else. Nope, that sounds about right.

I would be sitting on the couch after finding out about yet another failed conception, and wailing about how all that sex was for nothing! Chris would promptly glare at me from the other side of the couch and beg to differ.

There was nothing more trying to our marriage than the delightful Timed Intercourse.

It’s sounds just how it is.  Intercourse, carefully and systematically timed out for one thing, and one thing only: to result in getting sufficiently knocked up.  Orgasms? His, to expel those little essential pieces of the baby-making puzzle, and yours to get your cervix to do that little dipping motion to bring in as much of those pieces as possible.

Still think sex is fun?

I remember the days of Kama Sutra, blindfolds, and lingerie.  And then I started taking Clomid.  And peeing on ovulation sticks.  Sex became less of an act and more like a duty.  I think this can best be illustrated through story.

November 2010: I sat in the OBGYN office, making the plunge to give Mother Nature the finger and take baby-making into the hands of science.  Dr. W came in, sat down at the computer.  I was so nervous.  He asked me how many days were in my cycle, how long we were trying…

And then, “How many days a week do you have intercourse?”

“Wha-?” I coughed, desperately trying not to think about the zomg! awkwardness of the word ‘intercourse.’  I finally squeaked out, “Oh 2-3 days a week,” immediately feeling like I should have said we did it a hell of a lot more than that.

I dutifully took note of my new doctor-ordered sex schedule, and began what was the first of many uncomfortable sexual encounters of my marriage.

I remember one time last year, during the hellish 6 months of unmonitored Clomid through my OBGYN, when Chris was at work and I got up in the morning, and found out I was ovulating.  I had to work that night, so my only option was to ask him to come home during his lunch.  Before he came home that day, I put on a pink lingerie thing and sprawled myself out on the bed like an asshole and waited for him to come home.  I remember my heart pounding.  It was the first time in our life together that I was actually nervous to have sex with him.  He came home and I tried my hardest to be sexy.  I threw him on the bed.  I straddled him.  I went down on him.  When he couldn’t get hard, my stomach sank.  And I hated myself for it.  Finally, he took the Viagra we had gotten for those “just in case” times.  We lied there and talked for a bit while it “kicked in.”  The sex came and went and when it was over, he kissed me, propped a towel under my hips, and went back to work while I stared at the ceiling.  Was that supposed to be sex?  Or was that baby-making?

The thing was, I still had to have sex with him again the next day.  Which I was working late again.  So that same night, I got home, crawled into bed at 11:30 and thought the element of surprise would work.  After all, it wasn’t the first time I had woken him up for some action.  Several positions later, he told me he felt like coming twice… but he never did.  He told me over and over how sorry he was.

I cried myself to sleep; from the guilt of being mad at something he couldn’t control; for myself, for blowing this cycle; and for us, that this is what our marriage had come down to.  He woke me up early before he left for work, after taking another Viagra.  We tried again.  Nothing.  Once again, he had to leave and I cried.  It was horrible.  Was it worth it?  Sometimes I think I would have been better off not trying those past months.  There was nothing sexy about what we were doing.

Luckily, we haven’t had a month like that again.  But that doesn’t mean we weren’t affected by it.  The months after that, I still continued to test for ovulation.  And every time I saw that smiley face on the monitor, the obsessive thinking would begin.  The anxiety would start.  For two days every month, I plotted to get into my husband’s pants.  Coming out of the hallway naked when he got home, slipping into the shower with him.  I know it sounds hot, but it was anything but.  I was jumping him, not to be sexy, but to have the deed over and done with before his brain knew what was happening and lay on the pressure.  Chris may disagree, but it was so stressful for me.

The last two cycles, I decided to commit another marriage faux pas, and lied to him.  I told Chris I was done taking the pills.  I felt bad for lying, but not that bad where I would sacrifice two more months of baby-making sex.  We were able to do it the two days in a row, but I felt like I was on the verge of a heart attack.  He may have been all Al Bundy about everything, but all those sexcapades left me an emotional wreck, plotting and scheming.

There was one time, I was getting ready in the bathroom and he came in.  Anyone going through infertility can relate to this.  After it was over, I giggled, kissed him, and then hi-tailed it to the bed to lay down and put my hips up.  It doesn’t matter how good the sex is.  There is always that thought in the back of your mind of, if I’m standing up, how much sperm am I going to lose by gravitational pull?  Or, face-planting yourself on the bed when he’s behind you, so that those swimmers can simply fall down into your cervix.  Of watching him come and feel yourself breathing a sigh of relief that it worked this time.  Then feeling like a loser for even thinking about those things in the first place.

That’s why, when we moved on to IUI, we were thrilled that the timed intercourse was over.  Of course, that first month, we had to do it on Christmas (bringing new meaning to the term, “Ho, ho, ho”).  But since the IUIs, we have been able to keep sex and baby-making separate, for the most part.  Of course, during those cycles, my husband was getting more action than I was.  But I was proud of him.  I thought he would have difficulties having man time in a room with a sink, leather chair, and Playboy; but he always was successful.

Infertility tests your marriage in ways you could never think possible.  You fight about sex, you fight about when your going to have sex, you fight when you can’t have sex.  It’s stressful.  I don’t write this to make anyone feel awkward.  I write this because 7 in 8 couples can get pregnant with a bottle of Pinot Noir and lit candles without thinking anything of it.  I write this because that one other couple experiences some of which I just described above.  It’s not proper to discuss sex because sex is private and intimate and leads to children in 80-some percent of the population.  But what about the others?  This is what it’s like, trying to make a baby with pills, and procedures, and specimen cups, and ovulation kits.  It’s difficult, with a lot of tears.

We have also survived.  We have grown stronger.  We don’t take for granted really great sex.  This month off has been a chance for us to rebuild the part of our marriage that infertility has ripped from us.  We kiss more, we hold hands.  I find myself watching him at night, after he’s fallen asleep, studying this man that God has led me to, to go through life’s tribulations with.  These last years have reminded me that infertility, while it’s been important, is not worth losing him for.  It’s not worth being absent from him when we make love, wondering about ovulation, of pregnancy signs, of remembering to pee before I go to bed at night, so I don’t have to leak sperm walking around after.  It’s not worth it.  But he is.

images via Pixabay

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Impatiently Waiting

I cried and laughed as usual! Infertility sucks. It is so much more than not being able to get knocked up. I am so glad that you and Chris are such a strong, devoted couple. You inspire me.


Wow! Thank you for being so open… I know we've all felt this before: the frustration, the guilt, the anxiety. I remember being so bummed at the thought that my baby might be conceived without "love" or "passion" when we first decided to do IUI. After our IUI's, I've wanted to do them again just for the sake of separating sex and baby-making. Oh infertility!

Ana H

Hi, I am just stopping by from ICLW. What a great post. I remember my first "how often do you have sex" conversation with a medical professional. If I remember correctly I proudly blurted out "oh,who? us? We have sex all…the….time". It was at that point my husband stepped in and calmly said "ummm…it's not quite all the time, is it?". Needless to say, it wasn't the frist, or the last, time my face did an impression of an over-ripe tomato in the doctors office.


Great post. Reading it brought back all the awful memories of our own adventures in timed intercourse. I don't think I can ever forget how stressful and depressing it was for us and it's the reason I can never actively try again to get pregnant. I can't go through that again. I can't put US through that again. My marriage is too important to me.


Thank you so much for posting this and being so honest. I remember all to well days and weeks like this. Infertility really takes away so much and this is one of those major losses.


Great post! I love how everyone thinks it, and you say it! Perfectly! :)I am glad that you two are making the most of your month off. My hubby and I are also on our month off after IUI #3. It is nice to not have all those hormones being pumped through me and to not have the stress of "we have to have sex NOW"!


Thank you for posting this, I may show it to my Husband for him to know he's not the only one with performance issues. I also tried lying about the results of my fertility monitor, giving in to the Aunt Jane's and fertile Myrtles so we could have "relaxed" sex. He always saw through it, as with having a low count, he needs to have a three day build up for our best chance. I also know he's one of the generation of men who wants to please the woman first, but I often found myself feeling like, 'forget about… Read more »


Hi from ICLW. Yup the sex life takes one hell of a hard knock when TTC.


Such a great post. I laughed and wanted to cry, too. Thank you for sharing this and for being so open. I'm so glad that, while IF has been hard on your marriage (mine too, by the way, for the same reasons!!), it has brought you closer together. xoxo


You said it all so perfectly! I remember the initial reaction when my RE asked me about the frequency of intercourse too. In my head it was like I was in high school again. "Who, me?! I don't have sex! Oh wait… we're married and I'm 34 and I'm in a doctor's office talking about trying to get pregnant? Two or three times a week then." It took a minute for me to get it together.
I'm glad this is making your marriage stronger. You're some of the lucky ones 🙂


I always had what I called performance anxiety. Timed Intercourse is the worst. Great Post!


Love this! I've been there. In all of these situations described above. Glad the writers block is broken!


This captures everything so perfectly. There's been nothing worse for me than M looking at me when I'm trying to initiate sex, and I can tell that he's wondering whether I'm really into it or whether I just want the sperm injection. He was doubting my attraction to him, which is a terrible thing to do to your spouse. And of course that wasn't it at all. The whole thing is just insidious.

Sarah J

Oh my gosh, this is a great post because you tell it how it is. I have been through the same experiences, where sex was once all about fun and love and intimacy and has now at specific times of the month been a timed task to make a baby, sometimes absent of that same level of intimacy. People who can conceive while keeping their normal sex life with no stress = lucky. And ugh, timed intercourse. I want to have sex when I want to, not the few hour window my doctor gives us! I'm glad that this has… Read more »


It was definitely easier to keep them separate when we were doing IUIs. And I completely understand about the desire to conceive with passion. I've tried to have sex after the IUIs just in case, so that if it is a BFP, I can say I had sex to get it 🙂


This made me laugh! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I promise there isn't this much sex normally on my blog.


I get it Jenny. I don't think I could ever go back to it either. It's too much to deal with.


I felt so bad for my hus because I knew how frustrated he was, but we thought we were all alone because NO ONE ever talks about that part of infertility. Glad you could share this with him, because it sucks and it's probably more common than we all think.


Yep, Aramis, well said.


Anxiety before timed intercourse… wow, yeah. I mean, one time I had an actual panic attack and had to pull over because I was driving. I've never had more anxiety in my life. And before all this drama, I had the same satisfying sex life that you had. You're right, though – in our case, beginning IVF took a huge weight off my shoulders. Finally, I could just have sex whenever I wanted again. I just keep saying, "Whatever you want to do, dear.. our babies are in the bank!"


Oh how we used to struggle with sex. I would get so upset if he didn't have an orgasm, or God forbid that be would have one during foreplay and we wasted all that sperm! Gasp!! The horror! This past year, when the RE would tell us Hubby needed to have an orgasm a certain day before our IUI or IVF, we actually learned to have fun anyway, despite the fact that we HAD to have sex. By the way, I find it refreshing that we can discuss all this in the blogging world, but nobody talks about it in… Read more »


This is why you are one of my most favorite bloggers.

Everything you said is so true, so well written, so real. I literally started hating sex when we were doing timed intercourse. It was such a relief to have that stage behind us and to get to separate sex from baby-making…completely.

Jenni Moore

Well you nailed that one! We had the same issues with TI so I learned quickly to not say anything to him regarding when was the "right" time. As far as he knew, I just really wanted him those days! With one of our first IUI's, he comes in the room (he also does his "contribution" at home) and says "I can't do it." I responded as calmly as possible with "yes you can! I've taken pills, given myself shots, been through hell the past few weeks (little did I know what IVF would bring), there is no option to… Read more »


I burst out laughing when I read this Jenny. I know (trust me, I know) from experience this probably was not funny at the time, but it is one of those things that make you smile at down the road. 🙂


Well, I for one had a great time reading about sex! I always had a sneaking suspicion we might have conceived if we had had more sex than we did, but you're right, the whole timed intercourse thing was gross and offputting.


Thanks for this post, it's exactly what I needed to read this week. We're in the process of embarking on our first IUI with injectables (all my other medicated cycles, including the first injectable cycle, were timed intercourse). I was freaking out a bit because IUI meant if we conceived, it wouldn't be in the "usual" way (not that anything about infertility is 'usual'…).

Reading this, though, sounds like the IUI will be way better and less stressful.

Thanks again!


Thank you for sharing this. I'm pulling for you.


Wow I was just browsing through your blog and this is perfect. I HATED what IF does to our sex life. My husband has lower count so there has been more than 1 month where I panic, he tries, it doesn't work, I sob, he feels horrible. We even got as desperate as trying to inject sperm up there once 🙁 When we moved to Ivf I was relieved in that since! Sheesh! Good honest and TRUE post. I can soo relate.

Counting Pink Lines

Omg, this is all so true! I have to say, moving to timed IUI has been way better for our sanity.