Is sex during IVF a good idea?

Is sex during IVF a good idea?

Read any fertility forum and you’ll find sex and IVF don’t get along too well. ‘I felt so unsexy’, writes one woman. ‘After my umpteenth trans-vaginal scan, sex was the last thing on my mind’. And: ‘We deliberately didn’t have sex before or after our IVF treatment – now we’ve forgotten what it’s like’.

It’s no laughing matter. An American study on IVF and sex found that relationships during fertility treatment suffered. Researchers polled IVF couples, healthcare providers and mental-health practitioners. Women having IVF reported less interest in sex than those not having fertility treatment. Orgasms were rare; vaginal sensitivity and dryness were not.

So as sexual intimacy wanes, it’s hardly surprising that some couples complain their relationships are affected. But the sex lockdown during IVF has been questioned by some. A leading Czech IVF specialist thinks patients should have sex during treatment, when it feels right and sensible, for their mental wellbeing. She points to the lack of any clear medical evidence that sex harms the embryo.

This is slightly at odds with a 2014 study that found sex after embryo transfer increased the chance of miscarriage and reduced the chance of a live birth. The small study recommended abstinence after embryo transfer, like many clinics and doctors do.

We all know that when you have sex away from fertility treatment, you could be having intercourse after implantation and not even know you’re pregnant. So why is sex after an embryo transfer a problem? No large-scale randomized trial has answered this. We just have small trials (like the one above), a play-it-safe approach (i.e. abstain) and a taboo that never seems to go away.

It’s an emotional time. You’re outside your comfort zone. You’ve volunteered for disruption. But unless you’re closely counselled throughout your IVF treatment, conversations about sex become less of a priority. Here’s another comment from a fertility website that crystallises the problem: ‘IVF is the most unerotic thing I ever did.’

It seems that sex and IVF may indeed be mutually exclusive. Your doctor might agree – and he sets the pace. But if sex during your fertility treatment feels right, here are four broad rules of engagement (double check with your clinic, as every patient is different):

(i) No sex after embryo transfer, for at least one week, is sensible.

(ii) Sex before egg retrieval, if your enlarged ovaries don’t make it uncomfortable, should be with a condom.

(iii) In an IUI cycle, it’s okay to have sex on the same day (morning) of your trigger shot, and in the evening after insemination.

(iv) Sex is not confined to intercourse. Other forms of sexual activity (we all know what they are) are always safer.

The reality is that, after all the financial and mental investment you’ve put into your IVF treatment, you’ll probably want to play it safe. Go with your instincts. The total-caution approach? No sex from the start of your stimulation till after the pregnancy test.

Keep communication channels open. If you can, laugh with each other about how IVF affects your sex life. Counselling can help: ask you clinic for a recommendation. Support from family and friends will help too: don’t be afraid to ask for it. They may not want to discuss your intimacy issues in detail, but they’ll be there for you if it all gets too much.

Sex and IVF may seem like polar opposites. But keep calm and keep close. Whether you’re eventually blessed with a baby or not, your relationship is everything. It’s worth fighting for.

31 Comments
  • frisky
    Posted at 16:55h, 30 March Reply

    I find it interesting that you say many women don’t feel like sex during IVF. Seriously, I think the hormone medications are kicking my libido into high gear, so the two week wait is like torture. We find that our problem is just the opposite. We want it, and I’m always in the mood lately, but we have to abstain for now.

  • frisky
    Posted at 16:55h, 30 March Reply

    I find it interesting that you say many women don’t feel like sex during IVF. Seriously, I think the hormone medications are kicking my libido into high gear, so the two week wait is like torture. We find that our problem is just the opposite. We want it, and I’m always in the mood lately, but we have to abstain for now.

  • Robyn
    Posted at 03:53h, 12 August Reply

    I had a day-3 embryo transfer 6 days ago and knowing we can’t have sex makes me and my husband want it more! The saying is totally true: the “dreaded 2 week wait”. We will not risk our dream of having a baby, so walks and desserts are helping us forget!

  • Robyn
    Posted at 03:53h, 12 August Reply

    I had a day-3 embryo transfer 6 days ago and knowing we can’t have sex makes me and my husband want it more! The saying is totally true: the “dreaded 2 week wait”. We will not risk our dream of having a baby, so walks and desserts are helping us forget!

  • Debbie cowles
    Posted at 10:10h, 30 May Reply

    I’m in the stimulant stage at the minute.my stomach is so bloated and I feel like rubbish cause of allthe hormones I have to inject,but funny enough my sex drive has gone higher rather than Lower,never felt like it.but now having the hormone injections.i could all the time.its weird how so people do feel like it and some go mental for it.ive been a bit tearful as expected but apart from the crap side effects not been to stressed.and it’s hard not to get stressed but that’s the key I think.take one day as it comes and relax and try and stay calm.its so hard to go through some thing like this but stay calm guys xxx

  • Debbie cowles
    Posted at 10:10h, 30 May Reply

    I’m in the stimulant stage at the minute.my stomach is so bloated and I feel like rubbish cause of allthe hormones I have to inject,but funny enough my sex drive has gone higher rather than Lower,never felt like it.but now having the hormone injections.i could all the time.its weird how so people do feel like it and some go mental for it.ive been a bit tearful as expected but apart from the crap side effects not been to stressed.and it’s hard not to get stressed but that’s the key I think.take one day as it comes and relax and try and stay calm.its so hard to go through some thing like this but stay calm guys xxx

  • Sandy
    Posted at 06:00h, 04 January Reply

    We had our transfer last Friday. We have not had sexual intercourse for a while now. But the hormone medication is putting me in the mood all the time, however we have done some cuddling and kissing. Don’t know if that is harmful too.

  • Sandy
    Posted at 06:00h, 04 January Reply

    We had our transfer last Friday. We have not had sexual intercourse for a while now. But the hormone medication is putting me in the mood all the time, however we have done some cuddling and kissing. Don’t know if that is harmful too.

  • Mizlu
    Posted at 05:04h, 18 June Reply

    As for me I never wanted sex in my life like I have during my IVF stims.. my sex drive was just too high (I had my egg retrieval yesterday). I will not be having a fresh transfer and even though I was so sad about it initially I am glad I will be taking time off to get my body relax and possibly flash all these hormones out from the injections and most importantly get off the sex fasting session for a while… lol

  • Mizlu
    Posted at 05:04h, 18 June Reply

    As for me I never wanted sex in my life like I have during my IVF stims.. my sex drive was just too high (I had my egg retrieval yesterday). I will not be having a fresh transfer and even though I was so sad about it initially I am glad I will be taking time off to get my body relax and possibly flash all these hormones out from the injections and most importantly get off the sex fasting session for a while… lol

  • Hopeful Mom To Be
    Posted at 14:00h, 27 October Reply

    We totally abstained from sex the entire IVF process until I was 21 weeks. I read blogs and forums that it was totally safe. At 22 weeks, my waters broke. I was admitted and developed fever that night. The doctors cannot say what caused the leak, possibly an infection. Or it can be the other way around wherein the ruptured membrane caused the infection. We lost our baby at 23 weeks. Our doctor said that having sex may or may not have triggered it. We are planning the next implantation next year. This time there will be no sex at all.

    • Nicole
      Posted at 16:47h, 04 November Reply

      I am so sorry you went through this. I did too. My water broke at 19 weeks immediately after sex. (Literally got out of bed and it came gushing out) I was admitted to the hospital and put on strict bedrest to try and get the water to build back up. I had a terrible fever as well, and had 2 different drs come to try and get me to abort. It was horrifying. I would not give up hope. Eventually, my beautiful daughter was stillborn at 22 weeks. That was 11 years ago nearly to the day. I’m currently stimming for my first IVF round, hoping for a rainbow. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.

    • Dawn
      Posted at 22:00h, 06 November Reply

      Lucky guy

  • Hopeful Mom To Be
    Posted at 14:00h, 27 October Reply

    We totally abstained from sex the entire IVF process until I was 21 weeks. I read blogs and forums that it was totally safe. At 22 weeks, my waters broke. I was admitted and developed fever that night. The doctors cannot say what caused the leak, possibly an infection. Or it can be the other way around wherein the ruptured membrane caused the infection. We lost our baby at 23 weeks. Our doctor said that having sex may or may not have triggered it. We are planning the next implantation next year. This time there will be no sex at all.

    • Nicole
      Posted at 16:47h, 04 November Reply

      I am so sorry you went through this. I did too. My water broke at 19 weeks immediately after sex. (Literally got out of bed and it came gushing out) I was admitted to the hospital and put on strict bedrest to try and get the water to build back up. I had a terrible fever as well, and had 2 different drs come to try and get me to abort. It was horrifying. I would not give up hope. Eventually, my beautiful daughter was stillborn at 22 weeks. That was 11 years ago nearly to the day. I’m currently stimming for my first IVF round, hoping for a rainbow. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.

    • Dawn
      Posted at 22:00h, 06 November Reply

      Lucky guy

  • LDavis
    Posted at 02:13h, 30 March Reply

    I had frozen embryo transfer two times before. The first failed but the 2nd time I had 2 embryos put in and I have a gorgeous almost 4 year old boy and I just did another frozen embryo transfer on March 28, 2019. My doctor said no sex until they tell me and I’m waiting. I will have my pregnancy test April 8 and I will come back here to let you guys know if it work

  • LDavis
    Posted at 02:13h, 30 March Reply

    I had frozen embryo transfer two times before. The first failed but the 2nd time I had 2 embryos put in and I have a gorgeous almost 4 year old boy and I just did another frozen embryo transfer on March 28, 2019. My doctor said no sex until they tell me and I’m waiting. I will have my pregnancy test April 8 and I will come back here to let you guys know if it work

  • Worried mom-to-be
    Posted at 12:58h, 22 April Reply

    Had my embryo transfer on Monday the 08 of April 2019 and did the first test already and it’s positive. I was so happy. I had intercourse with my husband on Sunday the 21 of April 2019. Now I am scared AF! Wht if something bad happens to my baby I will never forgive myself.

    • Mom2be
      Posted at 22:07h, 22 April Reply

      It was frozen transfer or fresh?

    • Irf
      Posted at 13:45h, 23 April Reply

      How about your experience in egg collection and embryo transfer sister. Is it painful? How you take care yourself before pregnancy test?

  • Worried mom-to-be
    Posted at 12:58h, 22 April Reply

    Had my embryo transfer on Monday the 08 of April 2019 and did the first test already and it’s positive. I was so happy. I had intercourse with my husband on Sunday the 21 of April 2019. Now I am scared AF! Wht if something bad happens to my baby I will never forgive myself.

    • Mom2be
      Posted at 22:07h, 22 April Reply

      It was frozen transfer or fresh?

    • Irf
      Posted at 13:45h, 23 April Reply

      How about your experience in egg collection and embryo transfer sister. Is it painful? How you take care yourself before pregnancy test?

  • Bella
    Posted at 23:19h, 22 April Reply

    Hi guys,
    I had my egg retrieval 5days ago, and I feel like having sex. Can i?

  • Bella
    Posted at 23:19h, 22 April Reply

    Hi guys,
    I had my egg retrieval 5days ago, and I feel like having sex. Can i?

  • Faith
    Posted at 05:00h, 29 March Reply

    Hi Ladies

    I had egg retrieval 11 days ago, hubby and I had sex last night on day 10. We wont be doing the embryo transfer due to the Nationwide lockdown as a result of COVID19 outbreak until after a month from now. Would this affect the process at all? Haven’t seen my period also but my Dr said after the 10day pill he put me on my period should come. This whole process is hard, I’ve never cried so much in my life, watching my body grow bigger and my breasts tender and sore as hell. I admire anyone that has been through this in pursuit to have a baby of their own. We go through the most!

  • Faith
    Posted at 05:00h, 29 March Reply

    Hi Ladies

    I had egg retrieval 11 days ago, hubby and I had sex last night on day 10. We wont be doing the embryo transfer due to the Nationwide lockdown as a result of COVID19 outbreak until after a month from now. Would this affect the process at all? Haven’t seen my period also but my Dr said after the 10day pill he put me on my period should come. This whole process is hard, I’ve never cried so much in my life, watching my body grow bigger and my breasts tender and sore as hell. I admire anyone that has been through this in pursuit to have a baby of their own. We go through the most!

  • Asma
    Posted at 19:07h, 13 January Reply

    I started my ejection today , I have a question , anything I can do to avoid adding weight ?

  • Zoe Fobian
    Posted at 03:28h, 29 April Reply

    We had injections, but the process was cancelled as my follicles were not big enough. So we have stopped the injections (day 9). I ovulate naturally this weekend. With lots of follicles in place and they will now be large enough, is it safe to have sex and is the chance of falling pregnant higher?
    Thanks

  • Layla
    Posted at 17:18h, 03 May Reply

    What happens if you have unprotected sex during stimulation?

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