It’s that time. You are in the middle of IVF or egg freezing, you receive your calendar that tells you when and what to inject into your belly and a tentative schedule for the egg retrieval. You are ready to go but there is one thing missing from the instructions, the one thing that was needed to conceive a child before western medical interventions came along and that is sex. However, sex is a loaded word in our society. What does it mean anyway?
If we look at the oxford dictionary it says,” (chiefly with reference to people) sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse. “The urban dictionary says, “This is what you tell your daughter when she says she’s never had sex yet. “Well Princess, if a man ejaculates in your presence with your permission, consent, or active participation, you just had sex.”
I would say that we have limited our view of sex if we only think of it as a penis and vagina on a date. In the LGBTQ community, there might not be intercourse. I believe the best definition of sex is sexual practices. If you are going through an IVF or freezing your eggs, you might wonder what the instructions are about sexual practices?
I interviewed experts in the field of reproductive medicine and got some answers and want to share them with you.
First things first: for the downregulation part where they give you birth control pills and/or Lupron (not all doctors use this protocol) it is fine to have orgasms through masturbation or have intercourse, and/ or oral sex.
If you are using western gonadotropins like Follistim and Gonal-F that are used to hyper stimulate your ovaries to produce more follicles that contain eggs (for IVF and egg freezing) your ovaries are getting larger. All experts don’t agree on the timeline for intercourse. It’s anywhere from stopping it day four of shots or stopping it two to three days before retrieval. The truth is that women respond differently to the shots. Some grow follicles quicker while others grow slower. Bigger ovaries have the risk of twisting and that is dangerous. Oral sex is not advised 24 hours before retrieval although no data exists to support this. Most women are uncomfortable at this stage and are not feeling quite in the mood anyway.
After they take the eggs out, It is usually recommended that there is no intercourse a week but some say up to two weeks after. A 16 gauge needle is poked through the vaginal wall to collect the eggs from the follicles. Therefore, it isn’t a good idea to have sperm in there and the motion of intercourse could cause ovarian torsion or hemmorage from each follicle which may be filled with blood.
If you are lucky to have frozen embryos or even fresh ones to put back in your uterus here are the myriad of opinions about sexual practices. Mostly during the wait, doctors are concerned about uterine contractions because they don’t want an embryo not to implant. Many reproductive endocrinologists suggest waiting until the first ultrasound to have sexual relations. Orgasm causes uterine contractions so many say pelvic rest – a fancy name for do nothing below the belt. But no research has been done on uterine contractions after an embryo has implanted. Truth be told, none of us would be here says Dr. Marrs, a reproductive endocrinologist at California Fertility Partners,” because in natural conception, you have an orgasm, an embryo implants, then you have an orgasm again. Once implantation has taken place, uterine contractions are not going to spit out an embryo that is half a millimetre in size. Highly unlikely.” This is a natural conception but in IVF we do not have any research.
It is important for us to talk about sexuality and to ask questions If you want to know exactly what your sexual limitations are checked with your doctor. If you want more detailed timing, please see, Conceiving with Love, A Whole Body Approach to Increasing Intimacy, Reigniting Passion and Increasing Fertility in the Timing is Everything chapter.
Don’t forget that intimacy – seeing our partner, honest communication, and the willingness to be vulnerable – is the key to a healthy relationship. If we connect our heart with our loins not only do we increase the chances of conception but we radiate LOVE.
Denise Wiesner LAc, FABORM, is the author of Conceiving with Love: A Whole-Body Approach to Creating Intimacy, Reigniting Passion, and Increasing Fertility. he founder of the Natural Healing and Acupuncture Clinic in West Los Angeles, Wiesner is an internationally recognized traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, specializing in the Whole Systems Chinese medicine approach to women’s health, sexuality, and fertility. www.denisewiesner.com
Also, check out Denise’s book Conceiving With Love available from Amazon.