If you are in a heterosexual relationship and you are about to start IVF treatment, you’ve probably spent at least 6 months, if not years, trying to conceive naturally, through sexual intercourse.
You’ve probably heard the comment, ‘well, you’ll have fun trying,’ said to you repeatedly, when the reality of temperature checking, sex when ovulation dictates, then hopes dashed with a negative pregnancy test, month after month, is actually far from ‘fun’!
This scheduled sexual intercourse can take its toll on even the strongest of relationships, as sex becomes more about baby-making, than about desire and spontaneity.
At the IVF Network, we’ve also found that many couples are concerned about whether sex is OK before, during and after IVF treatment and when and if it should be avoided. So, we’ve put together some information, that can help you to navigate your way through your IVF journey, while keeping the sexual intimacy and connection in your relationship.
It is generally recommended that the male partner should abstain from ejaculation for 2-5 days, prior to the insemination. Abstaining for a long period before that time, however, can be counterproductive. This is because an excess of sperm is detrimental to the sperm’s motility.
In this article from Invitra, written by gynaecologists and embryologists, it says that:
‘The widespread belief is that long periods of abstinence can improve sperm quality. However, this theory is far from reality. Most specialists recommend a period of abstinence of about 2-5 days, although the World Health Organization establishes a slightly longer range of time, up to 7 days. In any case, the instructions of the specialists should be followed so that the semen quality is the best possible.’
This depends very much on which stage of the treatment you are at.
An article from Shady Grove Fertility, says:
‘Sex during the early stimulation phase of an IVF cycle is acceptable as long as the couple is using a form of barrier contraceptive, such as a condom. In the event ovulation was to occur unexpectedly, especially from multiple follicles, we want to avoid the possibility of multiple pregnancy.
Later in stimulation the ovaries may start to significantly enlarge due to the growth of many follicles. “As patients get closer, we tell them to avoid intercourse because the ovaries are very enlarged and cystic and we are concerned that intercourse could lead to rupture of a cyst on the enlarged ovaries or a twisting of the ovary on its blood supply, called ovarian torsion. This is extremely rare but abstaining from sex can help to avoid these types of complications,” explains Dr. Roeca.
In another article,from Fertility Centers of New England, it states that:
‘Specifically, couples who had intercourse on two or more days during the peri-implantation window were 40% less likely to become pregnant compared with couples who did not have intercourse during this same time.
The probability of pregnancy further decreased with the number of days with intercourse during the peri-implantation window. Sexual intercourse at the time of implantation could theoretically induce a pro-inflammatory response that may interfere with embryo implantation.’
It is generally suggested that couples can resume sexual intercourse a week or two after embryo transfer, but it is advisable to also check this with your fertility specialist.
Here at The IVF Network, we understand that people going through infertility and IVF treatment will have a lot of questions. Through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, we provide a wide range of information, to help to answer many of those questions and to help you to make informed choices on your personal fertility journey.
‘Intercourse at the time of embryo implantation,’ Joseph A. Hill.III,M.D. February 2022, Fertility Centers of New England
‘Can I have sex during fertility treatment?’ 21/8/2021, SGF
‘How Does Sexual Abstinence Affect Sperm Quality?’ Carmen Ochoa Marieta MD, PhD, MSc(gynaecologist), Marta Barranquero Gomez BSc, MSc (embryologist, Paula Fabra Roca MD, MSc (gynaecologist), Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist) and Cristina Algarra Goosman BSc, MSc (psychologist). Last update, Invitra, 4/8/2022