Entering the world of TTC, or trying to conceive, can lead to a whole new spin on sex. If you’ve been trying for a while, you may have found yourself developing a skewed view that frames sex as a procreational chore, a burden, or something that has to be put on our schedules, rather than the intimate and pleasureful experience with your partner it once was.
The idea of tracking your cycles and having sex accordingly may seem like it would take the spice out of anyone’s sex life, but it certainly doesn’t have to dull your desire. And more importantly, it shouldn’t: everyone deserves to have their sexual experiences be pleasureful and enjoyable, regardless of their fertility status.
Zoë Kors, the resident sex and intimacy coach, and contributor at the sexual wellness app Coral puts it like this: “When Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘The journey is the destination,’ he wasn't talking about intimacy, but the same is true of sex. When we set a destination for sex—like orgasm or conception—it robs us of the opportunity to be present in each moment as it unfolds.” Instead, she says, “if TTC has you feeling like sex is a means to an end, focus on the pleasure and connection you feel as a destination in and of itself.”
What You Can Do When Sex Feels Like A Chore
Wherever you are in your journey to conceive, if you’ve felt that your sex life is cooling off, attention should be paid. There are several ways to help ensure that the pleasurable aspect isn’t lost or overtaken by the procreational while TTC.
Understanding Your Desire Blockages
Stress, a lack of sleep, or a lack of connection with ourselves or our partner can drain “the mood” right out of you. Of course, all of these go hand-in-hand with TTC, so it’s important to nurture yourself and listen to your body in order to clear these blockages. Some things that can make all the difference include:
Getting enough sleep
Making time for moments of stillness throughout your day
Intentional transitions & creation of boundaries between the parts of your day
Deciphering your love languages
Regaining your sense of self, including self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love
This exercise from the sexual wellness app Coral covers these tools in-depth to help you combat the most common reasons for lack of desire.
Making It Playful
Labcorp OnDemand Women’s Fertility Package (Ovarian Reserve Test)
Cure Hydration Ginger Tumeric Hydrating Electrolyte Mix
Shifting into a playful mindset can do wonders to set the mood. Using a quick vibe shift activity can help to reset your mind, leave the day behind, and bring your focus to unwinding and reconnection together.
Take it from a sex and intimacy expert: "Adding novelty and discovery to your sex life can freshen your dynamic instantly. It's surprising how a little role play or a blindfold gets you out of your head and into your body. And if it's a connection you're craving, light some candles, put on your favorite playlist, and look deeply into each other's eyes. Remember who you fell in love with in the first place and why,” says Zoë Kors.
Using just your imagination and a threshold (the doorway to your bedroom works great!), release the stress of the day on one side of the threshold before entering your intimate space together, with full attention to your partner and your body. The ritual of physically leaving behind the weight of everything else and pulling the focus tightly to yourselves can open the door to a playful, more gratifying experience.
We tend to think of foreplay as an activity for the immediate moments leading up to sex - but why not practice foreplay all day? An all-day seduction not only brings you closer with your partner, it helps to create an environment in which, once the time finally comes, you can fully let go and enjoy each other’s bodies after indulging in all of the build-up.
Not sure how to get started? Be considerate of each other by asking “What do you find seductive?”
You may be familiar with the popular improv game “yes, and” - an agreement to say “yes” to your comedy scene partner during a bit while adding another idea that expands the scene.
This exercise isn’t limited to just comedy! Talk with your partner about how you’d like your sexual encounter to go, including the lead-up. Building a fantasy together can make it all the more satisfying once you’re actually living it out. After all, who doesn’t want to live out their fantasies? An improv game for the bedroom can support you in doing just that.
Individuality & Intimacy
Rejuvenating your sex life with a long-term partner can feel like a tall order. Once you’ve been together for so long that your two separate halves seem to have melded into one, room for individuality may have fallen by the wayside, which can lead to a drop in intimacy and sexual desire.
To combat this, try adding these simple hacks into your life to make sex with your long-term partner feel brand new again:
Go out separately
Court each other by investing time for true date nights
Get curious about each other’s thoughts and feelings. There’s always more to learn, whether you’ve been together for 10 days or 10 years.
Coral: Your Coach for Connection
If you’re looking for more exercises and insight into pleasureful sex, Coral is a sexual wellness app that helps couples and individuals to deepen their connection using a science-backed methodology.
Coral provides prompts that help you to play, learn, and connect with your partner while TTC or otherwise. Formed from a belief that better sex is not only possible, but that you can consciously create your best sex life, Coral prioritizes its users’ experience through developing deeper connections, enhanced pleasure, and unshakeable confidence. Achieving these emotions and making the time to honor them can bring pleasure back to the forefront of your TTC journey.
Lindsey Williams is a library worker and writer who lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Peaches. After 5 years of trying to conceive with dual-factor infertility, she is currently expecting her first child conceived with the help of IVF.