Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Let’s Talk About Sex May 26, 2011

A new reader, let’s call her Kerry, contacted me recently and had this to say:

“I’m in the coming-to-terms stage. Being 35 and on the crazy train for 5 years is enough for my husband and me.  I would like to hear from others about how to deal with (sigh…) loss of libido.  I assume I’m not the only one?  But I don’t know what to do about it, other than see a therapist, and I don’t really know how that will help anyway.  I used to have a sex drive like a MAN and TTC seems to have killed it almost completely.  This causes me much sadness, embarrassment and anger, and I have no idea how to fix my body’s refusal to enjoy sex!  I want to get back to enjoying my life, and this is a huge barrier.”

Let’s face it: having sex on-demand is like being force-fed chocolate. It sounds like a lot of fun at first, but it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off.

If you’ve been on the TTC (trying to conceive) merry-go-round, you know all about charting fertility and the mad scramble for the bedroom when that little line on the ovulation test stick shows up. After just a couple of months of failed attempts, it’s difficult to muster the enthusiasm to keep trying, especially as the success of the mission depends so much on both people being “in the mood” and even “in the moment.” Add to that the fact that the most intimate parts of your anatomy have been paraded before countless doctors, and the whole think quickly loses its allure.

From my own experience, I remember how sex became a frustrating chore and how quickly it stopped being about fun or even love. I also found that, once sex was associated with trying to conceive and all the emotional baggage that comes along with it, it was hard to separate the two again. But it’s possible.

I am no expert on the psychology of sex and libido, but I can speak from my own experience, so I will.

It does come back. It takes time and it’s part of the healing process. Once my husband and I got some distance from our experience and were truly on the road to moving on, we were able to focus on one another again, and the love that brought us together in the first place was still there. In fact, I think that the experience we went through together has brought us closer in many ways. We talked about it a lot (a LOT!!) and both agreed that, as awful as the infertility experience was, we were glad we went through it with each other, and not with someone else. In many ways, it has brought us closer and it helps to remember that.

As for getting the old libido back on track, pick up almost any women’s magazine and it will have an article on rekindling the passion – warm bath, candles, lingerie, toys. I think the trick is finding the thing that works for you. Warm baths and candles, for instance, are a sure way to put me to sleep. Here’s what does work for me. [Note to my husband: you should have stopped reading this post about five paragraphs ago. Sorry.] Commit to a minute. Just one minute. Even if you’re not in the mood, you can do anything for a minute. Agree that if it’s going nowhere after a minute, you’ll stop. Odds are, once you’re actually in the throes of intimacy, the rest will follow.

Ladies, what has been your experience in this department? Do you have any advice for Kerry? Please share it.


9 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Sex”

  1. RuralRabbit Says:

    Time helps. We also tried to separate ttc sex from regular sex. TTC sex was pretty much just accomplish what needed done. Regular sex was to be savored. I have found that getting away from home for a night or two has helped as well.

  2. Lafemmeroar Says:

    I’m single. But the warm bath and etc for me is more alone time than a precursor to foreplay/sex. I like your idea of “commit to a minute” maybe doing this throughout the day and stopping even if things get heated up will end up in an explosive session … later on at night.

  3. Tara Says:

    Explosive session…..oh I miss that! lol

  4. Vicki Says:

    Oh man, what a timely topic. I have no answers, because we’re dealing with sexual PTSD after years of TTC PLUS the complications of diabetes in my husband. Sigh…

  5. IrisD Says:

    Very important topic. Thanks for bringing it up because it is not always an issue we can easily openly talk about. I wonder, how much of diminished libido is a product of going through TTC and how much is a normal gradual decline in long term relationships? I mean, I know that trying to conceive over a really long period of time and being unsuccessful in the end is a factor, but in general, even for couples who have children, or for those who are childfree by choice, is “passion” in a longterm marriage sustainable for most people? I found that after the first 8-10 years or so of my longterm (nearly 20 year) relationship, my body just didn’t respond the same way. I don’t know if it was a product of hormonal changes or relationship issues or what. We are still sexually intimate, and I still initiate it, mostly because I want the intimacy that comes from it, and I really enjoy that, but I don’t know how to get back to that old lustful me… or how to get my body to respond like it used to. Candles, quiet dinners, slow dancing and what not, are not useful for me.

  6. Angela Says:

    IrisD…I wonder about that too…in my first marriage, we were together for 10 years (not TTC at all) and I never had that sloping off effect. BUT, I was in my 20s. I’ve been married to my current husband for 5 yrs, together for 7, so I’m sure that the TTC is the problem. However, I couldn’t say how I would feel in 20 years! I hope to God that’s not the case. We are getting back into the “swing” of things now. I’ve been taking St. John’s Wort for a few weeks and it seems to be helping my mood as well as sex drive. I have noticed an improvement; if it’s a placebo effect, I don’t care! Good luck to all of us! And thank you Lisa, great post 🙂

  7. happynenes Says:

    Yes, very important post. I agree with Lisa that it does get better with time. When I was really still in hoping to conceive mode, the thought that I might get pregnant was a big part of the turn on. Then, after it started to sink in that the miracle wasn’t coming for us, having sex kind of made me sad. But, when I started feeling more and more like my life without kids could be kind of cool, I think I started enjoying sex for the sake of enjoying it. And the tension related to having sex on schedule is gone, which has removed a big source of stress and resentment related to sex for me. But yes, it took awhile, and I think the turning point came when I realized my life without kids could be happy and worthwhile.

    • HR Hughes Says:

      I too am recovering from TTC. The sex topic is a topic I’d love to blog about but could NEVER bcs what I feel would crush my hubby. The girl inside of me who is hurting wishes she could go and have sex with someone else. I would never do that of course but the hurt girl wants to feel sexy and pretty and mostly DESIRED. Instead I got myself a cute bathing suit, started exercising and took my hubby away for a weekend. He was very excited about everything, I was luke warm to be honest, but I think it’ll just take a bit more time. I still think my man is yummy and sexy and the few times we’ve been intimate without the intention of making a baby were fun bcs I wasn’t thinking, “this could be it, please let this time work!” Now if I could just find my 20 year old orgasms again I’d be a happy woman.

  8. Paul Says:

    Ever since I was 11 or 12 years old I’ve felt no urge for sex of any kind. At that time I didn’t think to much about it. As I got into the teen years I didn’t have the urge to date or chase the girls. I just wasn’t interested at all. Now I’m 65 and still have no desire for any intimacy. I’ve eaten well all my life and exercise every day, not over weight, nor take alot of meds. Over my life I have been to many Doctors and therapists with no success. I did get married to a very lovely lady and I explained my situation and she told me not worry you can’t miss something you never had.
    I also explained if she wanted to leave me I would understand. So weve been married 40 plus years with out sex or intimacy. Were best friends, brother and sister
    what ever. I really appreciate her for hanging in there all these years.

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