Random header image... Refresh for more!

Is Sex the New Infertility?

Sex

Image: Rupert Ganzer via Flickr

I’ve found that most of the time, when women speak about sex amongst casual friends, they speak about it in vague terms that neither confirms nor denies whether anything is taking place in their bedroom.*  For instance, “He thinks he’s getting some tonight.”  Well… is he?  Or “Sex is the last thing on my mind.”  So… er… it is, at least, on your mind even if it is in last place.  I mean, for instance, the farm bill is not on my mind at all, so “last” trumps “not at all,” right?

Which is why I was surprised when I was out a few years ago with 12 thirty-something women.  Most of the women in the group were married.  A majority of the women in the group had children.  And after we had exhausted topics such as potty training bribery and our jobs, the conversation took a very unusual turn.  We started talking about… sex.  As in, who was having it and who wasn’t.

Maybe I remember this conversation so vividly since it has happened so few times in my life: not the joking about sex or teasing about sex, but women openly sighing while blinking back tears about how they weren’t having sex and it made them feel like crap.  Especially since they assumed, based on newspaper articles citing the average number of times per year that constitute a healthy marriage, that everyone else was doing something right while they were effective destroying their marriages by not getting around to sex.  And then there were the women who were exhaling big sighs of relief that at least they didn’t have the no-sex problem on their plate.

The women in the group talked about being jealous of other people’s orgasms.  Being too tired to add sex into an over-packed schedule.  Feeling as if their sex life had been decimated by earlier struggles in their marriage that were hanging around, stinking up their libido like garlic breath.

The whole talk sounded quite a bit like a blog post I would find in the ALI community, except substitute “sex” for “baby.”  The same feelings of inadequacy over something that is largely outside one’s control.  The same feelings of frustration that others are getting something easily that you are working at so hard and perhaps not getting at all.  That feeling that everyone knows something that you don’t know; and that you’d be embarrassed if they knew the truth about what goes on (or doesn’t go on) in your bed.

*******

I was speaking with a gynecologist who was outlining a new problem that has bubbled up with the advent of Viagra.  The drug is wonderful at treating erectile dysfunction, and many men are using it to extend their sexual life**.  The problem, of course, is that it does nothing to treat their female partners who are also experiencing a sexual denouement.  So now you have women who are experiencing post-menopausal side effects such as a decreased libido or vaginal dryness or tissue thinning but their partners are no longer sexually aging with them.  They’re able to chemically rewind to much younger sexual capabilities whereas women can’t.  At least, not yet.  As of right now, there are “no FDA-approved medications for treating sexual arousal problems in women.”

Not every woman experiences that post-menopausal dip in sexual appetite.  According to a New York Times article on the topic, about 45% report a decrease in interest (or ability to comfortably have) sex.  37% report no change, which doesn’t really tell us whether they are or aren’t having sex.  8% didn’t answer at all, and 10% reported an increased libido after menopause (attributed to the removal of pregnancy anxiety that happens, apparently, for fertile people).  Additionally, sexual satisfaction is all in the eye of the beholder.

Yet as Dr. Potter put it, “What might be a satisfying sexual life for one woman may seem woefully inadequate to another,” adding that what a woman expects from her sex life can make a difference. She cited the findings of various large surveys: “Only one-third to one-half of women who report decreased desire or response believe they have a problem or feel distress for which they would like help.”

We are, after all, supposed to age.  Our bodies are supposed to change.  The problem is a society that is constantly berating us to make a furious grab at youth via hair dye, make-up, sex.

*******

The emotional side of sex seems as if it has the potential to divide women much in the same way the emotional side of infertility divides women.

We even talk about it in the same way.  Some women brag about their sex lives in the same way that other women boast about their ability to have children. (“All we did the whole vacation is eat, sleep, and have sex” or “We got pregnant on the first try!”)  In both cases, it’s not really information we need to share in that it has no potential to benefit the listener.  People say it because they want to say it.  And consequently, people whisper about their lack of sex in the same way they whisper about their infertility.  It’s something women rarely advertise: hey, look at me, I’m infertile/not having sex!

Perhaps the two topics are tied together in my mind because sex plays a role — or, as the case may be, doesn’t play a role — in both infertility and… sex itself.  Neither of which are life-threatening situations but both are lifestyle-threatening.  They threaten our quality of life; perhaps not in the physical sense, but certainly in the emotional sense.

I guess I bring it up because I can see the potential down the road for this to become a divider like infertility amongst women of a certain age. No one knows whether or not you have sex unless you tell them whereas infertility is a bit more visible due to the lack of child.  But the internal processing?  The feelings it brings out in us that subsequently affect our relationships with the people around us?  I have to imagine that people who aren’t having sex don’t want to sit through even a teasing conversation about other people’s sex lives any more than I wanted to attend baby showers when I was in the throes of treatments.

And in the infertile world, because sex is tied into that unsuccessful babymaking process, it becomes about as appetizing as grey meat.  Infertility can decimate a sex life.  Some people bounce back (or don’t take a hard hit through it) but many others still feel the effects after they are parenting.  And why shouldn’t they?  We’re not shocked when soldiers come back from the field with PTSD.  Well infertility is a crisis, and it changes you to the marrow.  We can’t expect people to be dragged through the trenches of infertility and then emerge with a baby in their arms exactly the same as they were before they started.  Or without a baby in their arms and just going through life as usual.

I haven’t gone through menopause yet, so I have no clue which statistical category I’ll fall into.  But will it become the new infertility in the emotional sense?  Will women slyly insinuating how much sex they’re getting and how fantastic it is become the dividing line between women?   Will those who can’t or have no desire to have sex feel inadequate?  And what role do the hormonal imbalances of infertility (when that is the reason for the diagnosis) play in the pleasure factor of sex down the road?

I understand completely if people want to comment anonymously for this, but I would love to hear your thoughts on whether sex lives become an area of life to covet like parenting when either is held out-of-reach***.

* Apologies if this post is hetero-focused.  Libido issues can affect all regardless of sexuality.

** Of course, this isn’t the only usage of Viagra, and many younger men use the drug too.

*** Sometimes having sex is within our control, but other times it’s physically impossible due to bodily changes.

25 comments

1 AnonyMom { 09.10.13 at 8:11 am }

Ah, sex…I don’t even remember the last time I had it. The other half doesn’t seem interested at all, even when I’ve been blunt. I am interested, but hate being touched. And, frankly, sex is so far down the list of things to do it’s not even on the list. Add in an age difference, the fact that I’ve reached my 40s and my body is having it’s last hurrah…I don’t see a lot of hope for the future.

2 Sunny { 09.10.13 at 8:14 am }

I started commenting on your fb but decided I would hate for this to show up on someone’s feed.

I could talk about this for hours! The jealousy I have is huge. Life had for sure muddled this part of my life. It makes me sad. I’ve given up and that breaks my heart even more. With infertility, my husbands mistakes, cancer, a full hysterectomy… Sex never happens anymore. It’s not me but him. I’ve tried. Even recently we had a perfect evening without kids and an overnighter. The first in 4 years. It was perfect until the bedroom. It was an epic disaster. Awful things were said. Divorce was even thrown out there. In the end after a few days to think on it, he was just frustrated with himself. I was and am still heartbroken. The media and many friends make what we have an awful situation. We are fun roommates. Is this how it’s suppose to be, meant to be, always will be? I don’t know anyone like me. I work to meet his needs but this need doesn’t want to be met. 🙁 Now I don’t plan to try anymore. Thanks for posting this. I would hate to find someone like me but would love to know in not alone.

3 nicoleandmaggie { 09.10.13 at 8:58 am }

Hm, although I felt very jealous of women who were getting pregnant while I was ttc (Britney Spears twice?!?!), I never thought of them as slyly insinuating or being divisive. It’s more normal to not be infertile than it is to be infertile, and as maddening as it was for people to easily have unwanted babies, it wasn’t their fault my body was/is broken. Of course, if I had never been successful, perhaps I would have changed that view.

I also haven’t really thought people were bragging about their sex lives either. Mostly I only hear about it when people are complaining about the lack because of the small children (or occasionally houseguests who are overstaying their welcome), or, of course, the mechanical baby-dancing when ttc.

4 Mali { 09.10.13 at 9:02 am }

This is an interesting comparison. I think the difference is that sex is still rather a taboo subject (in many countries, societies/cultural groups/families/in certain media), yet fertility – or rather, parenting – is the most encouraged subject in the world. That doesn’t mean that the emotional hurt and pressure – on ourselves, and our relationships – isn’t there if we are not having sex. Just in my experience, it’s not something that is … front and centre? … in your face? I remember a friend hinting to me a couple of times over the years about the lack of sex in her life – comments like “you know, married to an over-worked professional” went straight over my head at first. But other than that rarely/never have I been in a detailed conversation about frequency of sex, or who is having it and who isn’t. And the DIY option just doesn’t come up either.

So the discussions (in my experience at least) and the media and the societal focus on parenting is not the same as the issue of whether you are or are not having sex. No-one says “you’re not having sex, you wouldn’t understand” whereas we all hear “you’re not a mother, you wouldn’t understand” countless times (personally or in the media). Politicians aren’t judged by whether they have sex or not, but female politicians are very definitely judged on whether they have children or not. People feel free to comment on it – whether we are resolved, no longer trying, or still trying but keeping it private. They comment to us directly, talk about us, or there are media items about all aspects of it. The social stigma is huge.

Whereas if we are not having sex, no-one knows and no-one can judge us (unless we want to talk about it). So maybe there’s less pressure? Or maybe there’s more? More placed on women by themselves and their partners? Or by their friends if they are in a group that talks about it? I don’t know. And maybe it is just as lonely as infertility, or even more so precisely because it is not discussed, and so it is harder to raise the issue, find empathy and support and hear “me too.”

You’ve got me thinking.

5 a { 09.10.13 at 9:04 am }

What a minefield topic! I’ve just gone from thinking I have an average-to-slightly-below-average sex life to thinking…well, at least I’m having sex! When my husband is really irritating me (i.e. enraging me to the point where I want to kill him), and I’m imagining how pleasant my life will be when he eventually dies (he’s totally going to outlive me), I often wonder if I will miss sex. I think no, because it’s not a high priority for me. But then again…

But yes, I can see how this would be a competitive point – between men and women. I don’t really care what others get up to, but I think there are people (like Sunny above), who would benefit from knowing it’s not just them.

6 loribeth { 09.10.13 at 10:16 am }

Like Mali (who is of the same generation as me — which may or may not be significant?), sex has not been a big topic of conversation with me & my friends, & mostly in rather oblique ways. I do get the sense that, between work, kids, housework and other stuff, many women are just too damned tired, & I think your point about Viagra & the lack of a female equivalent is a good one.

And stress does affect men too. Dh is going to kill me if he ever reads this… but I remember going to see a counsellor when we were making the decision to leave infertility treatment, & her asking us about our sex life. We both agreed that, given the toll of infertility, it was surprisingly good. Which made it all the harder when thing took a bit of a nose dive a few years ago. 🙁 I suspected that stress and depression (dh’s) had a lot to do with it. I think I was right, because since he lost his (highly stressful) job a few months ago, things have been better than they have in years. 😉 And the effect was almost immediate. Go figure.

7 Lollipop Goldstein { 09.10.13 at 10:29 am }

I think stress plays a HUGE role in whether or not we have sex. If you’re giving all your energy to working through or dealing with a problem, how do you have anything left over for anything else?

I encounter A LOT of sex talk with close friends. Obviously less intimate talk with casual friends (hence why I was surprised by the openness of that recounted conversation). But I do think that some of it is generational — I’m in my thirties (I can still say that for a few more months) — and cultural. Culture may be the wrong term, but I’ve found that some people are talkers and some people keep their feelings/thoughts hidden. And neither is right or wrong, but I tend to hang out with the talkers.

8 Anon { 09.10.13 at 12:07 pm }

I agree with Nicoleandmaggie that its just not so—out there—as the lack of a baby. Not everyone and sundry is coming to show me their sex pictures and ask me when I’m going to do it. And my friends and I don’t really talk about it (I AM in my 30s, but maybe I just don’t have very many close friends right now). I personally would like to talk about it (or actually just “talk about it” anonymously) because I do sometimes feel like I’m alone in our predicament—my desire to have sex has returned now that I’m done with pregnancy/breastfeeding/infant-having…but my husband’s has not. I’ve brought up several times our lack of sex life and he seems so befuddled that this is an issue for me. He is tired and stressed (though there really isn’t one thing he’s stressed about…he just finds parenting young kids and dealing with stuff around the house stressful) and he prefers to unwind passively by watching movies with a bourbon in hand, rather than muster up the energy to do anything else. Its not that we NEVER have sex but its way way less frequent than I hoped. Its not just the physical aspect, but that I feel it strengthens our emotional connection and takes our relationship a step beyond “roommates” or “co-workers”.
I feel like in the media, the majority of the time, lack of sex in marriage is assumed to be the woman’s “fault”—and all solutions are centered around making HER more in the mood, which is alienating to me.

9 Kate { 09.10.13 at 2:19 pm }

For some people, sex problems and infertility are not two separate subjects. My DH’s utter lack of interest in sex and frequent inability to finish the task in a, er, productive fashion was one of the primary contributors to our infertility. So not only was I dealing with one taboo topic, infertility, about which no one wanted to speak, but the big problem behind our inability to procreate was something that DH refused to bring up with the doctors. It was fine that I was going through expensive tests, invasive medical procedures, hormone shots, you name it, but god forbid we mention to any of my medical providers — much less our friends and family — that we simply weren’t doing the deed. It. Was. Horrible. Incredibly isolating and crazy-making. We cannot possibly have been the only couple going through this, but I never saw a single mention of similar problems on the infertility boards or blogs. I wish more people going through similar struggles would talk about it so women like me don’t feel so incredibly alone.

10 b { 09.10.13 at 3:28 pm }

I don’t have a lot of female friends but the ones I do have don’t discuss sex. We used to have an incredible sex life before ttc. Like the whole night, every room, call in sick the next day because you can’t walk straight kind of life. Ttc just made it mechanical. Now we’re lucky to get a quickie before the toddler breaks into the room. And that’s rare because he sleeps with us most of the time.

11 JustHeather { 09.10.13 at 3:32 pm }

My close friends and I do discuss sex. Not the nitty gritty (usually), but we do discuss who is getting it (or not) and other issues we might be having with it, including stress, family, etc. It is quite nice to laugh, cry and vent when needed. Although, we haven’t had one of those discussions in ages, everyone has kids now and too busy to really get together. 🙁

As for hubby and I, years of IF treatments, no desire to have sex during pregnancy or months after have left us in a sore spot. Thankfully we are getting back to a bit more normal for us. I know hubby would love more sex, but most of the time I just still can’t be bothered. Stress, taking care of the boy, now back to work and just being busy all day doesn’t usually leave me time to feel sexy or want to think of sex. I am trying harder for hubby though, because it is good and fun once we get there.

12 Elizabeth { 09.10.13 at 4:33 pm }

I am completely mortified by the topic of sex. I never talk about it with my girlfriends… not even with my sister!!! That made our infertility journey harder, because talking about infertility implied talking about sex, and I just couldn’t do it. That said… I would like to figure out how to break the silence. I recently read Mona Darling’s book Glitter and could not put it down. I wanted so much to contribute my story. So I’m looking forward to her launching her “lady-centric” online community space soon.

13 tara { 09.10.13 at 5:55 pm }

I resonate with the part of this post that emphasizes the implied “shoulds” and guilt associated with lack of a rich sex life. The idea that it should be easy to fix also seems similar to infertility (just have more sex! just have him do some housecleaning! just go out together more often! but sometime those things don’t translate into an interest in sex.)
I think it’s different in a lot of ways too, but I see some strong similarities. It is definitely another area where I feel like I’m failing so I’m tempted to be jealous of others and to judge myself harshly for falling short of the ideal.

14 persnickety { 09.10.13 at 6:49 pm }

There isn’t quite the same level of pressure/discussion that there is on infertility, but i do think that there is a societal expectation that everyone wants lots of sex, and is trying to meet that want. In the last year or so I have seen increasing discussion of “asexuals” people coming out as not wanting/needing sex. I think that we don’t consider that at certain points (and sometimes lifelong) adults don’t feel an overwhelming desire for sex.

My husband’s depression (pre-infertility) and ttc did a number on our sex life. IVF actually helped (takes a lot of the performance pressure off), and taking a break really helped (although we then feel pregnant and miscarried which didn’t).

On the performance pressure- one of the reasons i backed off on the ovulation tracking is that my husband really did seem to feel the pressure, and it always felt that he was either sick or dealing with a work crisis at just the wrong moment. At this point the only way we track ovulation is if my husband is the one ding the work (recording and monitoring temps etc). He has said he knows when i am ovulating- and if i leave it to him to be the initiator at those times, its ok. but if i want to do something- gah. I don’t generally write about our sex life in my blog- but it does feel like there is a weird invisible ruler that everyone is measuring them selves against and all feeling like they fail.

15 Anon { 09.10.13 at 6:49 pm }

Let’s hear it for low expectations.

“what a woman expects from her sex life can make a difference.”

16 Anon { 09.10.13 at 6:56 pm }

I’m often sad this is never discussed too. I think it’s really the last frontier that no one wants to talk about. Like Kate, we have, er, problems, and find even Viagra is not helping. My husband has medical issues that could be a factor but I can’t help feel responsible and terrible. I feel really terrible. I don’t want to talk about it to anyone because then I’m admitting, hey, my husband isn’t sexually attracted to me. Who wants to be that person? It’s all fine to be the rejector, “he can’t keep his hands off me and I’m so tired with the baby.” It’s perfectly acceptable to be that person but the reverse is really painful, silent, and lonely. Why would I bring that up to anyone? That would be worst than the blank stares when I bring up my infertility. I wish more people would talk about this. I wish I knew what to do and how to protect my marriage.

17 Lollipop Goldstein { 09.10.13 at 7:09 pm }

Anon, you just brought up a whole extra layer. You’re right: people are happy enough to talk about the sex they’re turning down vs. the opposite. Years ago, when I first started blogging, it felt like no one was out there talking about infertility. Or it was just a handful of voices and then a topic that was mostly avoided speaking about in the face to face world. It feels — perhaps due to blogs — that speaking about it openly here has spilled into the face to face world and created community there too. I wonder if there are others writing about sex and marriage online; not the good times, but writing about the stressful times. Even if it was anonymous, simply seeing how many people out there are going through the same thing could be enormously helpful.

18 Katherine A { 09.10.13 at 9:16 pm }

I grew up in a fairly conservative largely evangelical Christian community (although my parents were/are decidedly NOT evangelical, and I’m not either) and it felt, especially in my teens and early 20s as though sex was a huge topic of conversation when I’d go to youth groups or youth events with friends. There was a good amount of push to save sex until marriage with a lot of implication and sometimes even outright declarations that once married, sex would be perfect and amazing. The only thing I would hear was the people who would talk about how great it had been to wait, the implication being that their married sex lives were glowing and wonderful.

Well…because I’m still fairly repressed on sexual issues discussing them “out loud”, I’ll just say that putting two nervous virgins in a hotel room after a long, exhausting day with the expectations/hopes formed over the long haul of puberty and early 20s, bolstered by lots of mysterious hinting of an incandescently amazing experience (although no actual specifics as to how this ‘amazing’ was going to happen…) is decidedly NOT a recipe for ‘wow!”.

So then I thought something was wrong with me because almost no one admitted that there were…issues. I figured everyone else was having fabulous sex as promised. I can definitely see a parallel with infertility there – it feels like everyone gets pregnant, has beautiful babies, and that’s all any one talks about. I’ve been surprised, when I’ve admitted my infertility struggles, how many not-so-perfect/happy stories come out. I’d imagine the same to be true with sex in a lot of ways. And I think it probably would be helpful, even anonymously to see how many people are going through something similar, as stated in the comment above.

Strangely enough, infertility really diminished my nervousness about speaking frankly in a lot of ways. It was absolutely the most mortifying thing in the world initially to tell even my doctors about the pertinent pieces of my sex life, but now I’m a lot calmer about it and more able to be open about sexual issues even if it’s not something I’m really keen to do so that the problems get addressed.

One of the things that holds me back heavily from writing about my sex life or sexual things is that it’s not just me I’m writing about. I feel okay discussing my ovaries – it’s my body. But when it comes to sex, it’s also my husband’s sex life being discussed, and while I’m okay sometimes with being open, I don’t want to violate his privacy.

Sorry so long…lots to think about :).

19 vablondie { 09.10.13 at 9:19 pm }

I have always found sex, and the biology of sex rather fascinating. There is so much we do not know about female sexuality!

Sex is very important to my husband, so we have regular sex in order to keep our relationship happy.
We also ended up male factor, with poor morphology the only issue. The only way we are able to get pregnant is IVF. It actually became freeing after the initial mourning period for him. It just did not matter anymore, because sex does not lead to babies in our house. We could do what we wanted, when we wanted and it just did not matter.

After IVF and child, I ended up getting depression, which put a damper on the bedroom time. Things got better once we figured out sitters and the limitations of our parents, and once I started pulling myself out of the dark hole. We now have a fairly regular time we have sex, which makes him happy and makes it do-able for me.

I definitely cannot get distracted, though. For me, so much of what makes it work is in my head. I have to put it all aside so that we can get together.

20 Kimberly { 09.11.13 at 4:49 am }

Talking about sex is a funny thing. Growing up, you are told not to have sex, it was treated like a bad thing. Then we get older, meet someone and find out that sex is ok. Then you start to experiment and its more than ok. Many of us then settle down with one partner and no one really talks about sex once you settle down. Then when you decide to have a family its ok to talk in great detail about what your body is doing while the baby is growing in you and of course people will tell detailed birth stories and all the bad things that happen to your body during the act of giving birth but you aren’t really open to talk about how you got there and that doesn’t matter if you are infertile or fertile.

But much like my infertility, I refuse to keep quiet about sex. Regularly, I have a handful of my girlfriends get together and talk about the good and the bad. We vent, we ask advice, we talk in great detail about our dry spells and being turned down by our spouses for sex. We never really plan to talk about it but the conversation goes there because I think we all need it. I think everyone should really have that. It doesn’t fix it but it lifts that burden sometimes. I don’t think that envy really shows up until someone likes to brag, much in the same way someone would say “I got pregnant on the first try”. There is nothing to gain from a statement like that except jealousy. I think it all comes down to the delivery of a statement.

Saying that, I’ll just put it out there. My sex life is much like Rose from Titanic floating on the piece of wood in the water, just trying to survive. And it’s all infertility’s fault. The stress, the timed nature of it all coupled with the fact that I can’t seem to ovulate right now so the why bother attitude kicks in and I’m surprised that we have sex at all lately. But we take it a day at a time and just hope this isn’t a permanent thing.

21 Anonymous { 09.11.13 at 6:11 am }

I’m in my mid thirties. Hubby’s a little over 40. He’s told me that he doesn’t need sex as much as before, though during TTC he was really ready to do it on my fertile days no matter how tired he was. These days, though, after we decide to life life without kids, he doesn’t feel the need to do it that often anymore. But whenever we do have sex, I enjoy it immensely. I’d love to have sex more often, but I don’t want to force hubby to do it. After all, if it’s the other way around (if he wants to do it whereas I’m reluctant but still every now and then I give in “just because”), I won’t feel good during the act anyway.

I do occasionally talk about sex with my closest friends, but nobody’s bragging about anything and it’s mostly just sharing “bedroom facts”. Some of them don’t enjoy sex as much as I think I do and I know at least one of them sometimes have sex just to please the hubby. But hey, each to their own. As long as both partners are OK with the situation, then that’s that.

At least whenever any of us shares any part of our sex life, nobody has ever meddled or try to give suggestions, but when I shared my IF stories, people usually want to give helpful suggestions. Even when I don’t share my IF stories, when people know how long we’ve been married without children, some tend to want to comment/give helpful suggestions about it, whereas I don’t think it goes that way for sex.

22 Geochick { 09.11.13 at 9:32 am }

Sex was a touchy subject for me even before infertility due to vulvodynia. I’m the one at the table who stays out if the conversation most of the time because of my multiple issues. It’s there, and its done but man does it ever take an effort on my part to get excited about the whole thing.

23 Anonymous { 09.11.13 at 9:57 am }

I’ll be quite frank in that I lost my virginity much, much later in life. I just got married a couple months ago, too. So for me, sex is always on the table. The only time I’d say no is when I am having my monthly cycle.

My husband and I are in a weird housing arrangement right now as well. Another relative lives with us so we cannot be intimate as often as either of us would prefer [never know when they’ll come home – or what they can hear]. Some days it just kills me. But I would have sex every single day if I could.

24 It Is What It Is { 09.11.13 at 5:51 pm }

When I was in my 20s and 30s and in long term, monogamous relationships, sex was a big source of conversation with my then girlfriends. It wasn’t so much about the frequency of it (although it could have been and that was fine) but about the quality, the desire, the near unquenchable need when we had libidos and no dependents. We talked about how we were having sex, masturbation, etc.

As I approached my 40s and me and my friends were married, the conversation was much more about the quality of the relationship with our husbands, managing our careers and home lives, and starting (or having) a family.

Once we started ttc (and then, ART) and sex became sanctioned, everything changed. Initially, of course there was excitement that having sex would create a baby. But, after months and months and years of failed attempts, it just took the fun out of it even if an orgasm would have been a nice stress reliever.

Now, here I am, in my late 40s (GULP!) and in peri-menopause and I think a lot about the sex I’m not having, even with myself. I have next to no desire as in NONE. This is new for me because throughout my life I’ve been a sexual being whether with a partner or not. And, having a 6 1/2 yr old and a now mobile 8 month old means my idea of a good time is crawling into bed with some good DVR.

I will say, that way back in the 1990s, I felt like I was having a libido issue and my they OB/GYN prescribed something called estratest that I was just to take when I wanted to be in the mood. And, it worked. I’ll never know if it was the placebo effect or real, but it made me horny. I’ve often thought about inquiring about it again, but, even that requires more of a desire than I have at the moment.

I am hoping that it changes….hoping.

25 Jessie { 09.12.13 at 2:12 am }

Bear was reading this with me, and the main thing he pointed out is that talking about sex is so much more overt and accepted than it used to be 10 years ago. That certainly increases the feelings of competition and expectation and jealousy.

When I was with The Ex, our sex life had been shit for years. We didn’t like the same things, and I was literally forcing myself to do what he liked, even though it made me shudder, to try and make him happy. He had 2 patterns of foreplay and sex that he would use, and if I tried to do something different, he got confused and didn’t know what to do. I gained a bunch of weight around the time we first started TTC (which was also when he went into a depressive episode and reacted with anger/irritability), and after a year and a half he started telling me he was no longer physically attractive to me. And I didn’t want it with him either, it was so much WORK. I had to initiate it and I had to follow his patterns and it was just easier to take care of myself. :-p I didn’t think of being jealous of other people so much as I longed for something different and blamed myself for not being good enough. Not being good enough at forcing myself to do what he liked more often. Not being good enough at losing weight. Not being good enough at anything.

With Bear, we joke that we’re not sure if the movie of us would be a chick flick or a porno. But I have only shared that with one person in real life, my best friend, both because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging and because the friends I’d be close enough to to talk like that are all also friends with my ex, Bear’s ex, or both. I hope it lasts through and past infertility and menopause and all, but we will see.

Leave a Comment

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
The contents of this website are protected by applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved by the author