How to Navigate ‘Duty Sex’ While Trying to Get Pregnant

When you’re trying to conceive, sex can end up feeling like a chore instead of a joy. But there are ways to keep the spark alive.

Prior to trying to conceive, many of us spend a large part of our lives trying to prevent pregnancy at all costs, believing that one slip-up could lead to instant parenthood. Though it’s true that one missed pill or ripped condom could take you from carefree to prospective parent in one night, the road to parenthood isn’t always that simple.

What is duty sex?

Trying to conceive can be a very challenging process for some folks for lots of different reasons. The biological clock is the most known factor that can affect fertility, as the amount of eggs and their quality decrease over time.

For people in their early to mid-30s who have a uterus, there’s a 25%–30% chance of getting pregnant each month, declining to around 5% for those in their 40s. For people with chronic reproductive illnesses like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, abnormal cycles, or a number of other disorders, there are often many other challenges when trying to conceive.

On top of all that, there are only a limited number of days per month that you can become pregnant. Even people who aren’t dealing with circumstances that make conception harder only have a 5-6 day fertile window each month. This means that there is a lot of stress to get pregnant during this window, and then the dreaded two-week wait to find out if you’ve become pregnant.

When pregnancy doesn’t miraculously happen in the first couple of months, many of us turn to products and apps to help us figure out exactly when we’re ovulating, which days of our cycles are best for baby-making, and when we need to pee on a stick to see if all our efforts bore fruit.

When you’re stuck, knee-deep in the fertility trenches, spending your days plotting out your fertile days, peeing on ovulation predictor kits, scheduling sex during your fertility window, or even visiting countless doctors for medication or procedures to help the process along, having sex can become more like a high school science project than a pleasure-filled experience shared between you and your partner.

For those entrenched in the ups and downs of trying to conceive, sex can start to feel like a chore, or what some people call duty sex.

Read More: In Defense of Scheduling Sex

Why do fertility and conception struggles affect relationships?

Struggling with fertility can put a huge strain on both partners and also the relationship, particularly as the months go by with no positive test.

As Jenn Parretta, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate and Certified Sexologist, states, “The disappointment that follows seeing a negative pregnancy test isn’t easy, and it becomes more and more challenging as the months go on without a positive test.”

These struggles may initially affect the sexual relationship in the form of “Pressure to perform sexually according to ovulation cycles, which can strip away the spontaneity and emotional intimacy that make sexual experiences fulfilling,” according to Holly Wood, PhD(c), Sexologist at “The emotional burden of infertility can also lead to feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and decreased self-esteem, further impacting the sexual relationship,” she adds.

And, as months stretch into years without the illusive double lines on the pregnancy test, the constant stress and disappointment may weave their way into other aspects of the relationship.

As Rachel Goldberg, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist at Rachel Goldberg Therapy, explains, if a couple is trying to conceive for a long time, each intimate moment may become increasingly fraught, carrying a heavier emotional weight. The person trying to get pregnant can often feel like a failure, while their partner can often feel like they aren’t able to adequately support them through this tough time.

For couples who turn to fertility treatments, there’s the added stress of frequent doctor visits and the clinical nature of the process. Then there’s the financial strain it can put on families. Goldberg states that fertility treatments, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), can be particularly hard on couples.

“[IVF] involves handing over an experience, once full of joy and personal connection in the pursuit of family expansion, to medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and care coordinators.”

Pregnancy loss, which is common for couples who struggle to conceive, can cause further strain on the relationship. The grief and loss of hope caused by a miscarriage or failed fertility treatments can deepen emotional wounds and create distance between some partners. The shared dreams of parenthood may feel shattered, leading to feelings of isolation and despair, and the fear of experiencing another loss can create anxiety and reluctance to try to conceive again. This can become its own challenge for the couple, especially if one partner is eager to try again when the other isn’t.

How to navigate duty sex and relationship struggles when trying to conceive

Maintaining your relationship and a healthy, pleasurable sex life while struggling to conceive can feel pretty damn awful and sometimes insurmountable. But Heather Tahler, a clinical health psychologist with specialty experience in maternal and women’s mental health, stresses that this feeling is “extremely common,” so there is no need to feel shame if this is happening to you.

What to do if you’re feeling all the feelings?

As with many sexual and intimacy challenges, open, honest communication between couples can significantly reduce the amount of stress each partner is feeling, as a lack of communication can lead to irritability, isolation, and resentment. But this is often easier said than done,

As Parretta points out, “Many couples already struggle to communicate their sexual needs, wants, and desires, so infertility can exacerbate this difficulty.”


Article Source : – Sex ed for adults! Kinkly provide reviews, education and perspectives to help you have sex that’s healthy, consensual and fun.

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