Chantelle Otten

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Couples, Fertility and Intimacy

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According to the latest data, birth rates in Australia are on a rise for the first time in 5 years. In 2014, the overall birth-rate was 65 per 1000 women. (1) Despite this, it is common for lots of couples to experience problems with infertility. In fact, one in six Australian couples has trouble conceiving. With infertility being a common problem, it’s unsurprising that many couples turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) to navigate it.

What is infertility exactly? Simply put, it’s defined as an inability to conceive despite steady, unprotected sex for at least one year. Emotionally this can be frustrating for couples, and many feel a little ‘put out’ or ‘deflated’ by the process! Infertility affects 15-20% of couples (2).

ART is not an easy road to take. It’s highly invasive, expensive, and often makes those trying to be parents feel like science experiments. It’s also tough on mothers and their babies because of the morbid psychological impact on mothers, as well as the increased chance of mortality in both mum and bub (2).

The whole process of investigating infertility can negatively impact intimacy between partners. The pressure, feelings of inadequacy and guilt take away from the ‘fun’ and ‘pleasure’ that used to be associated with sex. Now there is a goal you have to reach, sex to conceive is about the destination, not the journey anymore. This impacted intimacy hinders the process of conceiving.

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