Getting in the mood when trying to conceive: How to keep it fun and exciting
Many couples experience a rush of intimacy when they decide to try to conceive. The experience is often both thrilling and tender as you dream about what’s to come. But when getting pregnant takes longer than anticipated, tender moments can become routine, and thrills can give way to frustration or anxiety. Suddenly, sex can feel like a chore.
Most ob-gyns advise that if you’re under 35, you should have regular sex without birth control for one year before being evaluated for potential fertility problems.1 Sperm can live inside you for up to five days, which is why it’s recommended to have sex on the day you ovulate as well as a few days prior to ovulation (also referred to as your fertile window).2
That’s a lot of sex.
Here are five tips for getting in the mood when trying to conceive and keeping your sex life exciting.
1. Talk to your partner
Studies show that effective communication between partners — about general topics and sex — increases both relationship and sexual satisfaction.3 Don’t be shy about sharing your frustration, boredom or anxiety. Chances are your partner is experiencing some of the same emotions. Just as you plan to parent as a team, treat trying to conceive as a collaborative effort. By maintaining open, honest dialogue, you’ll spend less time attempting to read each other’s minds and more time fulfilling concrete needs.
2. Strive for spontaneity
Planned sex can quickly feel like a burden rather than an impromptu romp. But you can still be spontaneous while staying mindful of your fertile window. Think about the time of day, specifically. If you always have sex before going to bed, why not try the early morning? Perhaps you can pencil each other in for a lunchtime rendezvous. Or better yet, don’t plan anything at all. Once you’re within your fertile window, flirt as if you were first dating and let the moments happen organically.
3. Remember the importance of romance
Get dressed up and go on a date. Throw on comfy clothes and snuggle on the couch for a movie marathon. Spend some time in the kitchen trying out a new recipe together. Leave little love notes for each other around the house. Try to do small favors or chores that you know your partner will appreciate (make coffee in the morning, pick up the dry cleaning on your way home from work or fill up the gas tank). Book a weekend getaway. Take a class together. Start a new shared habit, such as evening walks or weekly game nights. Don’t discount the impact of a small surprise or a grand gesture.
4. Switch things up
If you always have sex in your bed, choose someplace new — and think beyond your bedroom. You may even consider booking a hotel room for one night for a complete change of scenery. Also consider the sex itself. If it’s become formulaic, try new positions, longer foreplay, shorter foreplay, toys or lingerie. New often equals exciting.
5. Take a (short) break
According to the American Psychological Association, stress can affect men’s libido and sperm production and maturation.4 Stress can also affect women’s sexual desire and fertility.4 In contrast, research suggests that managing your stress can increase your chances of pregnancy.5
Of course, the last thing you want to hear when you’re anxious or stressed is “Don’t stress.” But if you can find ways to remove the stress of trying to conceive from the bedroom, sex will likely become much more fun.
One idea? Take a month off. Forget your calendar and have sex for the joy of sex, when the mood strikes you both. Find your groove again. Who knows — you may get lucky! And if not, the next month is right around the corner.
Remember: If you’re under 35 years old and you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without any luck, talk to your doctor. And if you’re over 35, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends reaching out to your healthcare provider after trying to conceive for 6 months. And if you’re over 40, please reach out to them right away.1
- “Evaluating Infertility,” (January 2020), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/evaluating-infertility.
- “Your Menstrual Cycle,” (March 16, 2018), Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/your-menstrual-cycle#3.
- Montesi, J.L., Fauber, R.L., Gordon, E.A., Heimberg, R.G., (November 15, 2010), “The specific importance of communicating about sex to couples’ sexual and overall relationship satisfaction,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 28(5), 591-609, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0265407510386833.
- “Stress effects on the body,” (n.d.), American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body.
- Rooney, K.L., & Domar, A.D. (March 2018), “The relationship between stress and infertility,” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 20(1), 41-47, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29946210/.