Baby-making sex can be many things—scheduled, exciting, stressful, and consequential. But often, it’s not very sexy. Or romantic. Or intimate. Nothing says hot like consulting the ovulation tracker before ripping your clothes off, right?
When you’re trying to conceive, it can feel like desire, spontaneity, and sensuality are left by the wayside in favor of tracking apps, ejaculation-driven sex, and doctor recommendations for when to get busy. That can make sex feel more like a chore than a moment for closeness and climax with your partner.
“Goal-oriented sex is usually less hot and less satisfactory for all parties involved because it should really be about the journey, not any destination,” Laura Deitsch, PhD, resident sexologist at adult shopping site Vibrant, tells Health.
But baby-making sex doesn’t have to be purely mechanical or feel like a doctor’s prescription. You can still have a hot, satisfying love life, even when you’re focused on conception or fertility treatments. Here, experts share their best tips.
Do more touching and kissing
Sexual intimacy is not just about intercourse, Tiffany Edwards, PhD, MPH, a clinical psychologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, tells Health. Kisses, cuddles, hugs, a quick shoulder massage, and everyday affectionate touches all heighten a feeling of connection with your partner and can spark desire.
These meaningful gestures of intimacy strengthen relationships (even as fertility issues can cause stress and strain), Diana Sadat, sex therapist and couples counselor, tells Health. “As couples begin to engage in these little activities more often, they feel more connected which leads to them to want to have sex for pleasure as well,” says Sadat.
Bring the fun back
Out-there positions. Sex toys. Games like role-playing. Laughing and joking about during little moments of body weirdness. When getting it on feels like work, it’s time to put the fun back in your bedroom session. “Bringing in new activities at this time is a great idea,” says Sadat. Her only caution: Avoid experimentation outside of your comfort zone, which can to another high-pressure situation in your bedroom. “When you already have the stress of trying to conceive, we want to keep things beyond that as low-stress as possible,” she adds.
Have more oral sex
Take the pressure off by experimenting with the kind of sex that doesn’t lead to babies—like oral sex or mutual masturbation. (Or both at the same time.) These sex styles remove the goal of internal ejaculation from the mix, so there’s nothing to think about except how good you’re making each other feel.
Schedule sex-for-pleasure sessions
Trying to conceive means scheduling exactly when you’re going to have sex. Since all this prearranged action can leave your libido circling the drain, make sure you pencil in sex sessions that are solely about pleasuring yourselves. The anticipation you’ll feel for pleasure-sex nights will kick up your sex drive.
Take breaks from baby-making
Give yourself one day each week that’s free from talking about fertility, ovulation, sperm counts, or anything related to getting pregnant, suggests Edwards. Instead, “Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with your partner about what’s going on aside from your family planning goals,” she says. Just feeling mentally and emotionally connected can help restore your physical connection, so you’ll look forward to baby-making booty.
Change the scenery
If that weekly timeout seems too hard to do because your everyday life feels consumed by fertility-related activities, get away with a trip. During this time, “you and your partner can engage in activities that bring you closer together in both emotionally and sexually intimate ways,” says Edwards. Nothing switches up your mindset like even a short vacation out of town, and getting away can reignite the sexual spark that brought you too together in the first place.
Focus on feeling desirable
Trying to create a brand-new human life can be a self-esteem killer, especially as the quest for conception goes on. “Men may struggle with feelings of inadequacy and feeling pressured to perform on demand,” points out Edwards. For women, there can be feelings of shame and guilt around the struggle to conceive, she says. None of this is a recipe for feeling desirable.
“Try not to attach your physical and sexual worth and appeal to your ability to conceive,” recommends Edwards. Instead, remind yourself of the things you love about your own body—and your partner’s. Whether it’s smooth skin, curves, muscles, or voice, focus on the traits that made you hot for each other in the first place…then let things naturally progress.
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