Studies estimate that around 12% couples have difficulty conceiving and having a child across the globe. With the advancements that science has made over the years in the field of conception and pregnancy, there is still a lot that needs to be done. Assisted Reproduction Technology or ART is the most preferred method over the years that couple relied on treating fertility problems. However, studies suggest that despite ART treatments about 40% of the couple still could not start a family. Infertility has been the source of significant stress and marital problems among many couples. This has resulted in more and more couples going to fertility clinics for treatments .
Various studies have been conducted to get to the bottom of the cause of infertility. These studies have come to a conclusion that many couple with fertility issues tend to have certain sexual problems or dysfunction that prevents conception. However, very little data is available with regard to psychosocial issues affecting fertility and the affects that various medical conditions have on the overall fertility of people. The stress of not being able to reproduce coupled with the financial burden of undergoing treatment for the same results and plenty of psychosexual issues in such couples also leads to marital conflicts .
Thus it is important to understand and address the issue of psychosexual problems that may affect fertility in many couples. Among the various treatment options that are available for childless couples, Invitro Fertilization or IVF is one such treatment that is now being preferred and has yielded successful results in many couples in helping them have a child. However, studies have reflected that females who undergo IVF tend to experience less pleasure during sexual intercourse which impacts their sexual lives [1, 2].
This may be in part due to the stress of the treatment and uncertainty over the success of it. This has been stated by researchers from Indiana University. As of now not much attention had been paid on the couple who underwent the stress of IVF treatments with regard to their sexual lives, although sex is an important factor in a female getting pregnant. This article explains how the sex life of a couple gets affected due to IVF treatments [1, 2].
Impact of IVF Treatments On The Sex Life Of An Individual
Invitro Fertilization is the process in which the eggs of a female is taken from the ovaries and are fertilized by the sperm in a laboratory in a setting which provides the right environment for development of an embryo. Once this occurs the embryo is then planted on the uterus of the female. This process is only reserved for couple who have tried and failed other modes of treatment for conception. Couples who agree for IVF treatments have normally been trying to conceive for years unsuccessfully. IVF since its introduction has become extremely and successful with more than 5 million babies born out of this mode of treatment .
The physician who led the study on this topic at the Indiana University, Nicole Smith, states that sex is basically for pleasure and for reproduction but for people who are desperate to conceive and have a family, pleasure from sex takes a backseat. In fact, couple feels that during treatment with Assisted Reproduction Technology, when they have sex they feel as if they are a part of an experiment. This is because the sex hormones are artificially injected and they have to have sex at a specific time even if they may not be in a mood to do it. This kills the thrill of intimacy and romance making sex a less pleasurable activity .
This even affects the marital life of many couples. Once IVF treatments start, there is significant alteration of hormones which is what is believed to be one of the causes of variability in sexual desire. A recent study suggested that the desire for a female to have sex changes over the course of a menstrual cycle due to alteration of hormones. A new study has been conducted in the United States, which is a first of its kind, which actually asks couple who are undergoing treatments like IVF about their sexual experiences .
In the study, it came to light that females undergoing IVF treatments lacked desire to have sex and even if they indulged in sexual activity it was not that pleasurable than it was previously. They also mentioned that they could not reach orgasm after starting IVF treatments. In many instances, they even complained of dyspareunia and excessive vaginal dryness. It was also observed that these problems increased as the treatment progressed. The researchers also opined that couples who were a part of the IVF treatments hardly spoke about sex whenever they met their physicians. This was because they were preoccupied about the outcome of the treatment rather than how they felt about sex .
It was the opinion of the researchers that it is extremely vital for a good doctor-patient relationship in cases of couple partaking in IVF treatments and these couples should be warned before embarking on treatment about the side effects of sexual dysfunction and informed about ways to improve their sexual lives. If vaginal dryness is experienced by the female during sex then using a lubricant can be very effective. Psychological counseling is also of utmost importance for couples undergoing IVF treatments to create positivity in their mindset about sex and ways to increase their sexual desires. A referral to a sex therapist can also be of help in this regard .
Researchers believe that if there is more knowledge given to the couples regarding the affects that infertility has on the sex life then there is likelihood that the couples may sort it out themselves and be ready for it. In many cases, females who go for IVF treatments are highly qualified and often research about the treatment thoroughly before going for it. The study concluded that IVF treatments in females impacted significantly their sexual life. This is because of the hormonal changes that take place once IVF treatments start .
In conclusion, not much data is available on the impact of IVF treatment on the sex life of couples. This is because this topic has not commanded the importance that other medical conditions like cancer and AIDS have. This is the reason why only limited studies are available and according to one such study it has been proved that females who undergo IVF treatment frequently complain of dyspareunia and vaginal dryness .
Females who were interviewed during the study also confessed to finding less pleasure in sex. This is more due to preoccupation of the outcome of treatment and the potential to conceive. This calls for more awareness among couple seeking IVF treatments to inform them beforehand about the sexual side effects so that they can be prepared and plan accordingly .
The success rate of IVF treatments is quite promising and if the couples can speak about their sex life with a counselor or a therapist then this little hurdle can also be crossed and they can have a satisfying sex life and be also able to conceive and start a family .