Feature Archive

Sex on a Schedule

It may help infertile couples, but who can stick to it?

WebMD Feature

May 8, 2000 -- Like five million other Americans, Candace and Alan Saylor (not their real names) desperately wanted a baby but couldn't seem to conceive. After a consultation, they were sent home with doctor's orders: Have sex when Candace was most fertile, and have it often.

While that may sound like a dream come true, infertile couples like the Saylors say it can be stressful. "I didn't want to be one of those women tapping on her watch, saying 'Now' at the bedroom door," says Candace, "so I tried to be seductive in creative ways."

They both put more emphasis on foreplay, for instance, so they didn't view each other simply as an egg manufacturer and a sperm-delivery guy. "I'd try to think of my husband as a sexy man, not just the guy who didn't get me pregnant," says Candace. "Sometimes, before intercourse, I'd focus on some physical aspect of him that I particularly adore, and that would turn me on."

Obviously, it worked -- the Saylors' daughter, Caitlin, is now three.

The Stopwatch Mentality

Many other infertile couples who are still trying to conceive say that sex can become tedious when they have to time intercourse to accommodate numerous lab tests or maximize their chances of success. Spontaneity can be replaced with sex as a compulsory act -- sex on a schedule.

Besides this timetable pressure, there can be loss of self-esteem (if, for instance, the woman feels like a failure for not becoming pregnant) and the financial burden of fertility treatments. But through it all, there are ways to minimize the toll.