Simone Tai was working as a TV producer in London when she crossed paths with her now husband, Sean.
“We met at a work Christmas party, so cliche,” she said with a laugh during our Girl Boner Radio chat. “Once we really got to know each other, that was like, wow. It was sparks flying.”
Meeting the person she could envision having children with paired with the independence and career success she’d built set the stage for the maternal wishes she’d only before recognized in friends.
Once Simone and Sean were married and the timing felt right, they began trying for a baby, figuring it would take a few tries at most. Simone was at a prime fertile age, after all, and could finally let go of any fear around getting pregnant when she didn’t wish to. Many attempts later, however, with no signs of pregnancy, the couple became concerned. This started an investigative journey through medical exams, testing and, eventually, infertility treatment known as in vitro fertilization, or IVF.
The IVF treatment process turned out to be more intense and long-lasting than they’d anticipated and took a toll on their relationship, in the bedroom included.
“In the beginning, it was all fun and games and then it gets serious,” she recalled. “You’re measuring and tracking and peeing on ovulation sticks…and eventually you get into this pattern of, ‘Sex isn’t spontaneous anymore. We have to make it sure [sex] happens then at this time,’… We’d both be getting ready for work and say, ‘We’ve just got to get a quickie in to hit this window of ovulation. [Sex] definitely became more mechanical. We were kind of like, this is our job. We can have fun sex other times.”
What Simone and Sean experienced isn’t uncommon. Sex and IVF is a complicated mix for many couples going through IVF treatments for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Disappointment or frustration when pregnancy hasn’t yet happened
- Having sex for procreation rather than for pleasure or intimacy, making it feel like a chore
- Stress or performance anxiety around needing to feel aroused on command or at specific times
All of this can cause sex to lose its sexiness, said Dr. Megan Fleming in this week’s Ask Dr. Megan segment.
“With most couples that I work with, it turns out that they are only having sex during the ovulation window,” she said. “She pees on the stick and it’s like, ‘Okay, it’s time!’ You can’t command yourself to be aroused any more than you can command yourself to be sleepy.”
Dr. Megan suggests couples in such a space view sex as a chance to give and receive pleasure, with pregnancy as a welcomed bonus if or when it happens. And, as always, it’s important to keep your own “sexy pilot light on.” Find ways to prioritize your own pleasure and carve out time for intimacy outside of ovulation windows.
For Simone, speaking about her struggles with others helped hugely, from the bedroom and beyond. She started with a Facebook post revealing her infertility and IVF journey. The flood of encouraging responses led to more openness, including Bubbles and Bumps, a blog she runs with her friend Cam that explores everything from recipes and parenting to miscarriages and IVF.
“The release I had from getting out there and how kind people were was amazing,” she said. “I don’t know what I thought they would think of me…but having validation that no, I’m not this strange alien going through this thing no one else knows anything about was so healing. It was one of the best things I ever did.”
To learn more about Simone’s journey and ways intimacy, sex and IVF can get complex, but also better with growth and healing, listen to our chat on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Sound Cloud or below!
Check out Simone Tai’s TEDx talk here!
To save $30 at TalkSpace—an online therapy platform I love—and support Girl Boner at the same time, click here.
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