How Does Infertility Affect Sexuality, And How Do I Improve Sex With My Partner In This Situation?

Question: How does infertility affect sexuality, and how do I improve sex with my partner in this situation?

Answer: It certainly doesn't come as a surprise that infertility can negatively impact one's sexuality, but what may be of surprise is the fact that it works in two directions. For some couples, infertility may cause some sexual problems, but actually, in other couples, sexual problems may be the cause of the infertility. So let's look at this.

In terms of infertility causing sexual problems, what a surprise that sex for procreation, ironically, leads to sexual problems. The idea of sex on demand, or pairing sexuality with failure, because there isn't conception, or having to time your sexuality based on your OB/GYN telling you to, can certainly negatively impact one's enjoyment and spontaneity with regards to sexuality.

Some men may develop performance anxiety -- it's hard to get an erection on demand. Some women may lose their ability to become aroused and they lose sexual interest. So, the idea of sex for procreation, actually, ironically, can have a negative impact.

On the other hand if we want to look at the fact that for some couples, infertility really has been because of things like premature ejaculation, where the partner is unable to wait until ejaculation in the vagina so that certainly can inhibit conception. Or for some women painful sexual encounters, what we call disparunia, or vaginismus -- where the vagina actually tightens to prevent penetration -- can certainly lead to problems with conception.

So infertility can certainly have a negative impact on sexuality. One thing that we want to emphasize, though, is sometimes once you reach the doors of an infertility specialist and sexuality becomes more about sex than procreation and you leave the procreation to the expert, it actually takes some of the pressure off.

So, all in all, infertility can certainly have a negative impact on sexual function. And couples need to be prepared to have sex and love-making at non-ovulatory times to remind themselves that sex really is about other things than just conception.

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