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Sex and IVF: What do you need to know about sex during IVF treatment?

7.2.2022 · 2 min reading
Sex and IVF: What do you need to know about sex during IVF treatment? thumbnail

It's finally here - your IVF journey is beginning, and if everything goes smoothly, you will soon become parents. Although this tends to be accompanied with great hope and excitement, the treatment may also be stressful and raise 'safety' questions. One question that may arise is whether you can have sex during and after IVF treatment.

Sex before semen collection

If you’ve been trying for a baby for over a year and have not been successful, you can get a semen analysis, which will entail certain limitations in terms of sex: since doctors need the sample to be as accurate as possible, it is recommended that you don’t have sex (ejaculate) 3-5 days before the semen sample is collected. When you arrive at the clinic, you will fill up a sterile container in a pleasant collection room, thus ending the ‘sex ban’.

Intrauterine insemination with almost no restrictions

If you are undergoing IUI treatment (intrauterine insemination), you won’t be very limited: it is only recommended to abstain from sex (specifically ejaculation) a day or two before the planned procedure. This abstinence will allow the partner to ‘accumulate’ a sufficient sperm count in the sample that he delivers to the clinic. The semen is subsequently introduced in a concentrated form through a catheter into the uterine cavity, at which point all restrictions end; doctors actually strongly recommend sex in the evening and in the following days after insemination: ‘This not only allows the partners to share an intimate moment, unprotected sex after insemination can also increase the chances of conception,’ says MUDr. Štěpán Budka, a doctor at Europe IVF.

What can you expect from ovarian stimulation?

You don’t need to avoid sex during this treatment either; however, because many women receive hormone injections, this may lead to enlarged ovaries, making sex unpleasant. Doctors also recommend using a condom in the early stages of stimulation to avoid the risk of multiple pregnancies in the event of unexpected ovulation. In the later stages of stimulation, ovarian enlargement may make sexual intercourse even less pleasant, but this may not necessarily be the case. Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly. You certainly don’t need to abstain from sex during ovarian stimulation.

Sex after an IVF embryo transfer is not taboo

Because many couples are afraid of something going wrong, they often avoid sex after an embryo transfer. Although this may seem logical and most of us would rather abstain from sex, many clinical studies have shown that sex after an IVF embryo transfer does not lower your chances. Sometimes the opposite is true. In some studies, couples who continued to engage in sexual activity had better treatment results. Sexual intercourse is a natural part of life, and pregnancy is also not a disease. Don’t be shy to discuss these things with your doctor.

Why should you continue to live intimately during IVF treatment?

Whatever treatment you are undergoing, don’t forget about intimacy – this is sometimes mistakenly confused with sex. Although sex may lead to intimacy, it’s certainly not the only way to intimacy. The sense of closeness, belonging and emotional connection that contributes to intimacy is especially important for this mentally challenging time, so focus on words and actions that express love, support and understanding. If you spend all your time together just focusing on the IVF treatment, your partnership or marriage may suffer. Last but not least, it is also important to not be afraid to talk openly about things that are bothering you with your partner and the doctor entrusted with your care.

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