IVF and sex life
ohbigdaddio · 18/05/2018 14:14
Well, lack of sex life!
Has anyone else found this and how have you dealt with it?
After 2 failed embryo transfers and prior, to that 2 year of TTC, I have totally gone off sex. The most recent IVF failure was less than a month ago. I feel depressed and anxious. I also feel about as sexy as a lump of coal. My self esteem is really low and I just don't feel in the right mood. Can't remember the last time DH had sex and I am upset about it but I don't know how to get the feeling back. It's daft in a way because we could still be TTC naturally whilst waiting for our next IVF cycle.
But the thought of that upsets me too because I don't want more failure. All those months of trying and getting nowhere, having lots of timed sex etc has really made me associate sex with creating a baby and if we can't create one what's the point?
DH is really missing it but not putting me under any pressure. I don't think he gets it completely and says we can still have sex, it doesn't mean we are happy about our situation but we need to be close. For me, the act of having sex brings up how I used to be feeling when TTC for months on end with no joy – hopeless, desperate, depressed etc. I guess I still feel like that now with the IVF not working so far.
I just don't know what to do and wondered how other people have coped?
Janefx40 · 19/05/2018 07:51
@ohbigdaddio hello. Yes IVF takes its toll on the sex life. And TTC takes all the joy out of it. It became so pressured and I stopped caring about my own enjoyment - was all just about getting the sperm into me in the right way!! Lovely.
For us it has not got better after BFP a week ago. DP is refusing to have sex at all in case it hurts the embryo. The pregnancy feels a little precarious so I know what he means but equally I don't want a sexless relationship - if the pregnancy doesn't work out I'll be in pain and bleeding for a while and if it does, I'll start throwing up in a couple of weeks. So my feeling is, we should get the sex in now!!!
I would give it some time and see how you feel. What if you only had sex at the wrong times of the month? Then you could relax a bit knowing it definitely isn't for TTC? I think taking a break from TTC between cycles is fine too - DP didn't get that last time but I needed a break from the stress esp as it was so unlikely to work.
Hopefully we will have plenty of time to get our sex lives back in the future.
Good luck with it all
wombats · 19/05/2018 11:46
@ohbigdaddio, yes, absolutely. TTC completely ruined our sex life. At first it was fun, but then became all about timing, cycles, abstaining (I was too nervous to do anything during TWW in case we dislodged an embryo), etc. Lost all spontanaeity and became a bit of a madwoman, TBH, and DH just felt like an inseminator, so I felt quite guilty. And we had mild MFI so that also put more pressure on DH. Plus the disappointment of sex not leading to a baby and the whole thing seeming quite pointless. When we began studies for IVF there were so many rules (no sex before HSG, etc) and during IVF, was uncomfortable with stims, plus the pessaries leaking from my bits and I didn't at all feel sexy. I think also because I was off sex so much, DH was helping himself more, so that also meant we were a bit out of sync as it were.
For us, talking helped and also just letting things go for a while helped release some of the pressure. I was so scared that if we gave up on sex, we'd just ruin our relationship, but really we needed a bit of calm. I also found that giving DH some attention that was 100% about him (like oral with nothing for me) helped both of us, him to feel more appreciated and loved and me to feel a bit less guilty and happy that I could still give him that pleasure. And of course since it's not procreative, it was a way to make intimacy pleasurable again without worry about whether this the time we're successful, has it been enough time since DH's last ejaculation, etc., and to get away from the gloom of TTC failure. I also tried to do things to make sex more interesting, got some pretty new lingerie (which DH loved), etc.
It's also taken a bit of time. We're still not there entirely but certainly in a better place than we were a year ago or so. It's absolute rubbish how infertility creeps in to every part of our lives and adds this extra strain. I hope you and your DH get to a better place soon. If you've just had a failed cycle, makes perfect sense to be a bit down. Allow yourself time to grieve and recover. Sending good thoughts to you xx
Funberry · 21/05/2018 11:01
I thought I'd add a male viewpoint. I am new to MN so excuse that I don't use all the right abbreviations etc...
We have been married 10 years this year. I have a high sex drive and we used to have a fun, varied sex life.
A year after getting married we decided to start trying, and as my wife has PCOS, and her sister struggled, we knew it may happen for us.
At first trying was, as others have said, fun. However, as the months went by it became more anxious, sex was routine and lost all fun and spontaneity. After 2 years of it not happening my wife began to slip into depression from it and we decided to go for private IVF rather than wait for the NHS.
All the time our sex life was slowly disappearing into nothing. Of course we still tried, but my wife was convinced it would never work and its no exaggeration to say that there were times I thought I would come home and find her dead. She was in a very dark place. What made it harder is that she didn't want anyone to know what we were going through, and so it was hard for her to share with friends etc... I became her sole support network and it really took its toll on both of us.
As she started on the drugs etc.. her mood changed and she lost interest in sex at all. We had two rounds of ICSI which failed, but we were successful with a round of IVF and had our first daughter in 2011. Things improved with her mood, but the drugs seemed to have changed her hormone levels for some time and the emotional damage had left a scar.
We had more IVF and lost a baby at 8 weeks, which was just horrid.
My wife began to slip again, she hated her body, hated herself, and thought she was a failure. By this time, we were allowed to talk about it with other, but not too much. I wasn't concerned about suicide anymore, as we both adore our eldest daughter and she saved us. However, she didn't want me near her, said that her body was horrible and useless and that sex wasn't of any interest at all.
A year and a day to the day of the miscarriage, our second daughter was born following more IVF. It was like someone had opened the curtains to the dark room (I'm in tears reliving all this now). We had our two kids that we wanted, two beautiful girls.
However, despite that, we were both fundamentally changed. A lot of arguments had happened, a lot of pain and suffering. There is no doubt that my wife personality had been changed hugely, as it seemed her sense of fun had been lost.
Our sex life still didn't really ignite, I don't think we had any sex for 9 months after the second daughter was born. However, the depression slowly began to ease its way out and she was more able to accept herself. We were both shocked therefore, that having had sex once in a 12 month period, that she fell pregnant naturally, and we had a wonderful son arrive (2016)
I joke that we bought two and got one free. It was more than that, it showed my wife that her body could work properly, it could do what it was meant to.
Since then we have been trying to work on getting ourselves back to some sense of normality. It has been a struggle, we both put on weight in the 'dark years' and so we are body conscious. However, the shoots of positivity and improved sex life are there and we can put things behind us and move forward.
I don't mean this to be off putting at all, just giving an honest account of how her experiences impacted things, how it impacted our sex life and that we are now through it and hopefully getting to a better place.
It was hard, and frustrating, but we have three gorgeous children.
ohbigdaddio · 22/05/2018 08:37
Thanks so much for your replies. I can relate to lots of things that have been said. At the moment I'm planning to see my GP for anti-depressants so that I can hopefully get my head in the right place for life in general and then once my mood improves I hope our sex life may start to return.
It is really difficult as sex is all tied up with TTC but your idea is good Janefx40 about having sex at the 'wrong' time of the month. I think my DH thinks we should be TTC inbetween all the IVF but I have just had a failure and to immediately be trying again (although naturally) seems too much.
Really interesting to get a male opinion Funberry Thanks so much for your post. Sorry for all you have gone through, it sounds extremely tough. But when I started reading it I did think my own DH could have written the post as I am suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. I also feel like a failure and so frustrated that my body can't do what it is supposed to do. Good to know that you have reached a better place and also you have your 3 lovely children.
I think I need to work on the depression and hope that the rest will follow.
Thanks all xx
Jenbot78 · 26/05/2018 19:49
Sorry to hear you are in such a dark place daddio it is so tough. We TTCed for 3 years naturally before having IVF1 which failed (CP) and then IVF2 which worked and we have our DD, now 1. We are now trying for no. 2 naturally but have two embryos in the freezer so will be using them sooner rather than later and seeing if we get lucky. I would like to say that our sex life has improved but no, we are back on the TTC train! We talked about it last night and assured ourselves that when this journey is all over we will focus on enjoying sex again. I try and see it as temporary although honestly we will have some work to do to get it back to where it was before all of this! Added into the mix was some post birth complications (forceps delivery) so we didn't even get a break for some fun before starting on the TTC train again. I know what you mean about associating sex with TTC. Even when we were trying to be casual about 'trying' it got back to the old boring baby sex very quickly!
Wondering if you could seek some professional support if having dark suicidal thoughts? Definitely prioritise your mental health. All the very best.
ohbigdaddio · 26/05/2018 20:11
Thanks Jenbot78 I have sought help and am now on anti depressants. Need to get my mental health back on track before we try with our last frozen embryo. At the moment I can't even think about doing that. the disadvantage is that we can't TTC naturally while I'm on the medication which is frustrating.
We are on holiday soon so I'm hoping we may have some normal, fun sex then. Fingers crossed!
Good luck with your quest for baby no 2 and thanks for your post x
EarlGreyT · 27/05/2018 07:05
Sorry you’re having such a rubbish time of things at the moment. I don’t have any answers or wise words about what to do to improve things I’m afraid.
I just wanted to say you’re most definitely not alone in this. I could have written your post almost word for word at one time, especially this bit: “All those months of trying and getting nowhere, having lots of timed sex etc has really made me associate sex with creating a baby and if we can't create one what's the point?”
I did find a holiday helped things a bit so hopefully you will find the same. Of course, I then stupidly also hoped that we would be one of those unicorn miracle fabled couples we all know and love who “went on holiday, relaxed, got drunk and just got pregnant naturally” after 50 rounds of IVF and I berated myself for being so silly to think this might ever happen when it inevitably didn’t. OK, I exaggerate slightly, but I’m sure you know what I mean!
I hope the antidepressants help. This is possibly a stupid question, but is there not an antidepressant which is suitable for you and which you can also take while TTC?
MindatWork · 27/05/2018 09:16
I’m so sorry for you OP, we had 4 failed cycles and have been ttc for 6 years so I totally know how you feel.
May I ask how old you are? If you have time, my one piece of advice would be to take a break from ivf and anything to do with it, and get yourself back in a good place physically and mentally. After our 4th failed cycle (in the space of one year as we were in a huge panicked rush to get pregnant) we made the decision to take 8 months to a year off and try and find ourselves again.
I needed to get my body back and try and become something other than a crazy woman who was obsessed with timed sex, injections and symptom spotting. Failed ivf is so devastating, and people who havent been through it just don’t get it.
I agree with the idea of trying to get back to sex for pleasure and connecting with your DH, rather than for ttc. I actually went back on the pill for 6 months - I took 3 packs back to back to help my endo, and it helped a huge amount to feel like I had control over my cycles again. Of course that may not be for you, but we were over the idea of a natural conception by that point and I wanted to take the pressure and sense of ‘what if’ off myself.
We went on holiday, moved house, changed jobs and did all the things we’d been holding out on because of the ivf. Again this might not be for you, but at the very least it helps to try and ‘rediscover’ yourself as individuals and a couple, and find your way back to each other.
Ivf is incredibly hard on relationships, and it takes so much from every part of your life (especially when it fails). I really hope you get the result you want in the end, and I really hope you can get that spark back with your DH!
All the best xx
AniSL · 27/05/2018 10:39
I am really sorry for those of you going through this. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. We have just had our first IVF cycle and though st day 3 both embies were grade A, they didnt make it to day 5. We have been ttc for about 4 years now but have not let this crazy journey affect our sex life. Perhaps its because DH went through this with his previous wife,I am not sure, but we ensure that its not just ttc sex but just keep having fun with each other and remember we were a couple before IVF hijacked our lives. DH actually wanted to try the day after my EC because we hadnt tried for over 8 days but he had TESE which meant he couldn't.
I agree that if you are struggling, maybe take a break for a little bit and try to have some fun again
dinksandbinks · 27/05/2018 12:15
I totally get it. I think it’s completely normal. I’m glad you’re trying antidepressants- they worked wonders for my mood, but my libido did take a bit longer to return. I should say I TTC’d on them (citalopram) and have been taking them and my GP and IVF clinic were absolutely fine with it - check out “medicines in pregnancy” website for info on your specific one.
The other thing that really helped was counselling. It is a huge deal to accept that you can have sex just for fun and not with a side of procreation when the procreation part isn’t working properly. Sometimes IVF clinics have counselling services, that might be worth looking into?
Be kind to yourself- feeling the way you are is totally legitimate
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