This week, we had the pleasure of working with kin, a brilliant biz on a mission to equip everyone with the knowledge and tools for a simpler fertility journey. Together, we explored sex and fertility – the importance of ovulation, your fertile window, pleasure practices for different stages of the cycle and everything in between.
First up, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to sex and fertility. Here are a few ideas to get us started:
The Other Big ‘O’: Ovulation is a major event in the menstrual cycle – a time when the ovaries release a mature egg, which travels down the fallopian tube where it can be fertilised by sperm to develop into a pregnancy. It’s a massive hormonal occasion, with an oestrogen peak and spike of Luteinizing Hormone – all of which increases desire, mood and cervical mucous, conveniently.
How do you know if you’ve ovulated? You may notice a thicker cervical discharge around Day 10-14 of your cycle, provided your cycle is approx. 28 days (i.e. regular). If you’re tracking your Basal Body Temperature, your temperature may increase up to 0.5 degrees Celsius.
The fertile window: If your cycle is regular, there are only a six days a month where conception is possible – five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. Tracking your cycle – being conscious of when you ovulate – can increase chances of conception, which leads me to…
Sex scheduling! If you’re trying to conceive, scheduling sex during your fertile window can increase your chances of falling pregnant (it’s around 27-33% likely if you get moving three days leading up to ovulation, including day of ovulation)
Some other ideas from kin:
Morning sex can be the best time for fertility-minded pleasure – testosterone is at its highest, meaning sperm may be in its best form. Those with vulvas are also likely to have more energy and be in their parasympathetic state (rest, digest AND reproduce).
Lying on your back 10-15 minutes after sex can help the sperm travel in the right direction.
And in terms of scheduling sex?
Usually, when I speak about scheduling sex people often say they don’t like to time it – that it takes the sexiness, heat or desire out of the pleasure equation. But scheduling sex when you’re hoping to fall pregnant is an effective way of increasing your chances. Whether you’re trying to conceive, or just looking to diarise desire, here are some tips to make it sexy.
It’s okay for your sex life to change. Partners of all kinds will speak with me about their desire changing through life. It’s very human and very natural for sex to shift in purpose – particularly if you’re trying to conceive. What was once used for fun/pleasure/intimacy/stress-release/orgasm becomes more functional, with the focus firmly on becoming pregnant. It can be helpful to communicate with your partner about these changes – respecting expectations and needs, trusting that your sex life won’t always be so goal-oriented.
Share your needs. As much as you may love them, your partner isn’t a mind reader. Intend to be as open as possible with what you need through this time.
Be mindful of the fertile window. As we discussed earlier this week, there are only really six days or so where you’re able to become pregnant i.e. your fertile window, coinciding with ovulation. Some people find it beneficial to split their sex life into two phases:
During the fertile window, sex is intentional with a focus on conceiving.
Outside of the fertile window, sex can be as experimental as you wish, with the focus on fun and pleasure. You may choose to explore other ways of being intimate together that don't involve penetration or even being naked – enjoying slow kisses; a long hug; oral sex or having a shower together.
Stress management. Trying to conceive can feel all-consuming. Consider some ways you can manage stress, anxiety or overwhelm – whether solo or with a partner. This can look like meditation, movement, breathwork, therapy, self-regulation tools or co-regulation - finding ways to regulate your nervous system together i.e. soothing touch, being physically close, a cuddle.
Take a break. Whether it’s intentional time spent not talking about it, giving yourself some space to think about something else, engaging in an activity that makes you feel good, or – if possible – taking some time off from actively trying to conceive and agreeing when you’ll focus on it again.