The quality of sex life and emotional condition of couples undergoing fertility treatment

Studies in Polish patients undergoing fertility treatment demonstrate that people dissatisfied with their sexual activity are at greater risk of developing emotional disorders. People who treat sexual intercourse purely as a chance of getting pregnant can have a higher prevalence of depression (Makara–Studzińska M, Wdowiak A, Bakalczuk G, Bakalczuk S, Kryś, K Emotional problems among couples treated for infertility, Seksuologia Polska 2012; 10 (1), pp. 28-35).

The quality of sex does matter

Improving the quality of sex life can enhance the emotional well being of couples who have been struggling to conceive. Looking after your intimate life properly can support your fertility therapy. In a study with infertile women conducted at the Yazd IVF Centre, half of the participants reported that the frequency of intercourse with their partners declined after they started their efforts to conceive (Tanha F.D., Mohseni M., Ghajarzadeh M., Sexual function in women with primary and secondary infertility in comparison with controls, International Journal of Impotence Research, 2014, 26 (4), s. 132– 134). Reduced frequency of intercourse in couples who experience decreased sexual satisfaction affects their chances of getting pregnant and prolongs sexual problems. Couples who rarely engage in sexual activity have fewer opportunities to improve the quality of their intimate life. This leads to a vicious circle in which the failure to achieve sexual satisfaction affects the frequency of sexual activity thereby strengthening the mechanism when the couple avoids sex instead of looking for ways to solve the problem.

Why talking to your partner is so important

Early signs of intimate problems should not be overlooked due to the risk of long-term consequences. If you think that something wrong is going on in your sex life, talk to your partner regularly to share your thoughts and feelings about your sexual satisfaction. During ongoing fertility treatment, you will undergo frequent tests and examination the results of which can affect your self-esteem and how you perceive your body (your femininity or masculinity). If the news delivered by your doctor fails your expectations, it is crucial for you to be able to talk to your partner about how this may affect your self-esteem. When talking, many couples mainly focus on how certain laboratory findings and diagnoses impact their chances to get pregnant. However, some patients may start to identify with a negative diagnosis and see themselves through the prism of the disease that affects their life. For example, women with PCOS often consider themselves physically less (more masculine) than other women  because of the specific symptoms associated with this condition. In addition to the impact on self‑perception, some women can worry about how they are perceived by their partners which may also affect their confidence in the bedroom.

Looking after your sexuality is necessary and justified given that the quality of your sexual activity has an impact on the emotional well-being of you and your partner. This can take many forms one of which is to have regular conversations about your sex life and how it affect your relationship. Another option is taking a proactive approach e.g. by bringing a breath of fresh air and newness into your bedroom to boost the quality of intercourse as you keep trying to conceive. Finally, you and your partner can attempt to identify individual factors that hinder or support your sexual activity. Rerecording situations when you feel the urge to have sex or which quell your sexual desire can give you more insight into the situation. You may be surprised to find out that your infertility (as a medical condition) is not the main cause of your sexual problems but rather the constant time pressure, fatigue and overwork which prevent you from enjoying quality intimate time with your partner.