By: Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN and Director of Clinical Operations at Genesis Fertility Centre
Female sexuality is influenced by multiple factors: culture, religion, ethics, and individual personality traits all contribute. There are numerous scientific reports regarding how female sexuality is affected by the impact of cancer, surgeries such as hysterectomies, and menopause. But what about infertility? Research findings report the impact of infertility on sexuality for women can result in decrease of sexual arousal, loss of desire for sexual activity, and negative feelings experienced during sex. In clinical practice, women experiencing infertility report that sex has become an activity with a purpose rather than a pleasure. A woman’s sexuality is particularly affected during investigation, diagnosis and treatment of infertility. For women and their partners fertility treatments can create feelings of intense invasion of sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as loss of control.
So, if you are experiencing issues related to your sexuality, what can you do? There are many benefits of sexual activity related to your well being: heightened emotional awareness, increased immunity, and analgesic effects have all been reported in the literature. Increased self esteem and self worth have also been noted as benefits of positive sexual relationships. Sexual healing can begin with you and your sexual partner. Renewed intimacy can happen by something as simple as pretending you are dating again. This can help by reintroducing romance to your relationship. Exploring tantric sex or other similar sexual techniques can recreate sexual activity as a pleasure rather than a function.
There is also professional help available. Medical intervention may be helpful for vaginal dryness or painful intercourse. Whereas, psychological intervention can help with loss of sexual desire or negative thoughts during sexual activity. Organizations such as IAAC (Infertility Awareness Association of Canada) and Resolve provide support for those experiencing infertility. Don’t be afraid to seek help and support. If infertility has negatively impacted your sexuality, you are not alone!