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Couples, Fertility and Intimacy.

Chantelle Otten MScMed(HSSH) Sexologist


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.


However, many couples don’t know that sexual dysfunction problems that exist prior to ART can affect its success as well. Using reproductive technology for help with infertility can be a turbulent and emotionally draining time for a couple, but there are things that you can do to increase the chance of success before resorting to ART.


How to Make a Baby!

‘Tips’ on how to make a baby might sound rather ignorant, but there are a lot of things that many people don’t get right! If you haven’t had any luck conceiving yet, ask yourself if you have tried all these.


1. The first is timing.

The best chance you will have to conceive is the small five day window prior to ovulation. To get the timing right you’ll need to keep track of your periods and know the beginning of your cycle. It’s useful to buy a counter-fertility monitor to help you time your ovulation! Try OVUPLAN Scope Saliva Ovulation Prediction Tester from your local Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy.


When the egg is released from the ovary, it will have 12-24 hours in which it is receptive to sperm and can be fertilised. However, since sperm has a longer ‘lifespan’ and can be viable for days, it is still possible to get pregnant even before ovulation has begun.


2. Relax and Have Sex

Don’t think about sex for making babies. Having sex every day is optimal, but don’t try too hard by working with a schedule. Stress and baby making don’t work. Women and men going through fertility treatment who remain relaxed and optimistic generally have better overall outcomes that those worried about their ability to conceive. Your hormones change as you get more anxious which may influence the way your body takes to pregnancy. A male can also develop anxious reaction which could affect his erections.


So think about making love and not about making babies. Sex is about pleasure.


3. Despite what the folk tales will have you believe, there is no super-secret raunchy sex position that guarantees conception.

Sperm travel fast and will reach the fallopian tube within seconds regardless of what position you did it in. There’s a split opinion on what’s best to do afterwards; some experts recommend lying down for 20 minutes to keep the sperm settled at the top of the vagina where it’s meant to be – others think it makes no difference.

Ultimately, you can decide what you would like to try, but definitely do not douche right after. Not only will that reduce chance of pregnancy, but it can also cause pelvic infections.

Another important note: don’t do anything that will raise your body temperature! Things like saunas, going for a run, or spas are a bad idea.


What can you do to make sex fun!? Having sex frequently, even if you have to schedule it (busy work lives etc.), means that it can very easily become stale and unromantic. It’s important to mix it up a bit so that the sex continues feeling novel and pleasurable.

Use great lubricants such as SmileMakers ‘Generous Gel’ to make the experience enjoyable and comfortable. You can even use an external vibrator while your partner is inside you – it’s really up to you how you mix things up! We’d recommend SmileMakers ‘Fireman’ and ‘Surfer’ as a good couples vibrator to play with.


Importantly, Priceline and Priceline Pharmacy now offers First Response’s Conception Friendly Lubricant, which is extra gentle and non-irritating and may be used even while trying to conceive as it does not contain a spermicide. You can have loads of comfortable fun without impacting your chances of conceiving!


Making Sex Comfortable and Enjoyable at Any Life Stage

At any point in your life, whether looking to conceive or not, it can be difficult to keep sex intriguing and fun for everyone. Sexual difficulties are a concern for 20–40% of the adult population, so problems with enjoying sex are universal (4). The good thing is that they can usually be treated by introducing new tactics in the bedroom and keeping conversation friendly and open.

The first thing you can do, if feeling unrelaxed and anxious, is to use a distraction technique. These can include erotic or non-erotic fantasies, exercises with sex, music, videos, or television. Try to figure something out that is suitable for the unrelaxed or anxious partner – for example, many people who are self-conscious about how they look during sex might enjoy roleplay with blindfolds, either used on themselves or on their partner. Treating confidence issues and insecurities is extremely important of course, and should be discussed together, but having a conversation about what might work in the moment is also a good idea. Taking a warm bath before sex can also help with feeling relaxed, comfortable, and pliant. Secondly, have fun with foreplay! Things like oral sex and oil massages are a good way to ease into the moment, improve communication, and make sure your partner is properly aroused. Don’t rush, and don’t view foreplay as some preliminary stage to rush through and get out of the way. It counts as sex just as much as everything else!


Words by Chantelle Otten image under license via


Chantelle Otten is Priceline Pharmacy's Sexual Health and Relationship Expert.


The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and wellbeing or on any opinions expressed within this article. The information and opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and may not necessarily be the views of API or Priceline.  API or Priceline will not be responsible for any actions taken by a reader as a result of this article.




(1)   ABC News (2014, December 16th). ‘Number of babies born in Australia increases for first time in five years: birth rate report’. Retrieved from:

(2)   Tao, P., Coates, R., & Maycock, B. (2011). The impact of infertility on sexuality: A literature review. The Australasian Medical Journal, 4(11), 620–627.

(3)   Tao, P., Coates, R., & Maycock, B. (2011). The impact of infertility on sexuality: A literature review. The Australasian Medical Journal, 4(11), 620–627.

(4)   Let's talk about sex. Goodwach R. Aust Fam Physician. 2017 Jan/Feb;46(1):14-18.