Women who are undergoing IVF treatment tend to be much more well-informed and vocal about the challenges of the entire process compared to their spouses. You will find a number of women that use the blogosphere to share how regimented and soulless they find the entire process to be. They are also very open about how they ride the emotional highs & lows while they are going through the treatment.
However, the one aspect that very few patients & doctors talk about is the heavy toll that IVF treatment takes on the sex lives & sexual desires of women. It’s not uncommon for couples that are undergoing infertility treatment to face sexual problems. Many studies have shown that women who undergo IVF tend to report lack of sexual interest, satisfaction, desire, orgasm & overall sexual function. However, this is the elephant in the room which everyone is happy to wish away
The problem is that when a couple is going through IVF, sex tends to become more enforced and mechanical and loses its pleasure quotient. This is not the case only in India, but across the world too. The one problem in our country is that talking about sexual desires is still taboo. At our clinic, we find that patients do have questions related to what they can do to improve their sex life, but these patients are few and far between. Most are very reluctant to bring up the topic – and IVF specialists are too focused on achieving a pregnancy to discuss sexual dysfunction.
Stress in the Relationship
Many patients have to be urged to consider counseling, which they will agree to very reluctantly or not at all. Most couples going through IVF report that it impacts their libido. Some even go so far as to say that sexual stresses result in straining their relationship with their partner; and men and women are equally affected.
Factors in Play
Since this topic is kept under wraps (by both patients and doctors), patients are not too well- informed about why this occurs. There are a range of factors in play here:
• Many infertile women experience a certain helplessness, depression and shame all at once. Most of these feelings come from negative perceptions about their bodies and it can result in a significant negative impact on a woman’s sexuality.
• The medications uses for infertility treatment can also affect libido. Thus, Lupron switches off estrogen production. This makes the vagina dry, so that sex can become painful. The good news is that as the estrogen levels rise during superovulation, many women find their libido improves dramatically; and lots of women will report spontaneous orgasms during their sleep after the embryo transfer, because of increased pelvic blood flow ( as a result of the high levels of estrogen and progesterone).
• The procedures themselves act as a dampener on sexual interest. For example, it’s natural that intercourse may not be much fun when you have just had a transvaginal ultrasound done that day – having a doctor poke and probe you can turn anyone
• There is a lack of spontaneity , and IVF treatment is extremely protocol-driven. Some vocal patients say that they feel like they are part of a science project which kills their sexual urges and makes sex hard to enjoy.
Counselling and Therapy Can Help
The good news is that these problems can be fixed. It’s very important to discuss them openly, and you need to ask for help if you think you need this. There are many quick fix solutions, which can make a world of a difference. Self-awareness is the first step, and openly talking about sexual difficulties with your doctor and your partner can help to solve many problems . Remember that the most important source of libido is the brain, and there are lots of tricks you can use to re-ignite your sexual desire ! You need to tackle the problem as a couple, and simple tools, such as using sexual toys and lubricants can put you back in control. The objective is to effectively re-associate sex with pleasure & enjoyment.
For someone who is undergoing IVF treatment, it’s very common for their libido to take a beating. Infertility can be very hard and that is why you have to be tougher!
Want more information about how you can improve your sexual drive during infertility treatment? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/malpaniform.htm so that I can guide you in a better way!