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  • Writer's picturethefruitfulhollow

Is it getting hot in here? Let’s talk about sex!

We advise readers to use their own discretion and not read this blog post if they are in a season where they may be led to lust or temptation.

We believe that sex needs to be talked about more in the Catholic Church so that fewer couples feel alone on their journey. To open up the discussion in this community, we asked a group of Fruitful Hollow team members, mentors and writers some questions about their marital sex lives and compiled their answers anonymously. We hope that hearing from a group of women who have all experienced infertility at some point will be validating and give you an insight into the ups and downs others have experienced while navigating sex during or after infertility. All of the names have been changed for the purposes of confidentiality. Here we go… let’s talk about sex!

Who has the higher sex drive in your marriage?

8 of the ladies (61.5%) said their husband has the higher sex drive;

5 of the ladies (38.5%) said they themselves do.

How often do you and your husband have sex?

7 ladies (54%) said they have sex 1–3 times a week;

6 ladies (46%) said they have sex 1–3 times a month.

Do you wish you had more sex in your marriage?

9 of them (69%) said they wish they had more sex;

4 of them (31%) said they have enough sex.

When do you feel sexiest?

  • Zoe: Before ovulation!

  • Rose: When I’m ovulating!

  • Marianne: When I’m ovulating and/or when I’m freshly waxed.

  • Elizabeth: During ovulation, or when my health seems on a good track.

  • Sarah: When I feel like I’m looking good.

  • Julia: When my husband finds me sexy and when he compliments me.

  • Lisa: When I feel like I'm going to surprise my husband and when I have time to prepare.

  • Natalie: I feel sexiest when I am rested (which is rare in this season of life), and when I have shared my heart with my husband and he has received it.

  • Christine: When the day is done and I can relax into time with my spouse, moreso when he's helped me tackle things through the day.

  • Anna: At night and on weekends.

  • Helen: I never really feel sexy, but I may be more interested if my husband has helped me with some household tasks. It’s hard to think about being intimate when the house is out of order.

  • Suzanne: When I don't feel bloated! There was a while when I didn't ever feel sexy and didn't want to think about having sex because it took a long time for me to get diagnosed with vaginismus and begin physical and emotional treatment. Now that I am well into my healing journey, I am slowly beginning to desire sex here and there, even though it remains complicated. When I do feel sexy, I don't use lingerie. I like to take my clothes off and have fun with it. Throwing on some high heels helps, too.

How do you prepare yourself for intimacy with your spouse?

  • Sarah: I get freshened up or put on some lingerie.

  • Zoe: I send him sweet text messages and make sure I look my best.

  • Lisa: I love it when I have a chance to shower, put on some lingerie and spend time making myself look and feel good. A glass of wine helps!

  • Julia: In an ideal scenario, I have already showered, washed my hair and shaved my legs, I tidy the bedroom and light candles to set the mood and put on lingerie. But realistically, in times of TTC I couldn't keep up that level of effort every time so sometimes it's just some of those things. Sometimes just showing up and taking time to be present and relax into it together is the most important thing.

  • Anna: I brush my teeth, wear nice lingerie, fresh deodorant, brush my hair and definitely shave my legs and armpits.

  • Suzanne: Because I am still healing from vaginismus, it helps a lot to use my dilator for stretching vaginal tissues to help prepare for sex if I am starting to feel ready. It is even better if I do the stretches right before intercourse. This can, obviously, take some of the enjoyment out of it. It is mentally taxing to think of all I have to do to prepare for intercourse, which is one reason why I don't want to have it often. It took a while for me to realize and accept that this is understandable. It has to feel right for me and I have to feel safe to say no and stop at any time. Although we have had a lot of challenges, my husband has been very loving throughout the process. The healing process has been difficult, but we have grown closer together through hard conversations.

  • Rose: I don’t really do anything special to prepare on a normal basis.

  • Helen: I clean the room and put on cuter pajamas.

  • Natalie: In the past, I have loved the boost that a little grooming or extra attention to my appearance gives me. Taking my time shaving my legs and putting on lotion feels like a little luxury that made me think about having my legs touched later. Grooming my pubic region has also done wonders.

  • Christine: I get my mental checklist DONE so my brain can focus on sex!

  • Marianne: I read medium-steamy romance novels

What have you and your spouse done recently that brought some new life to your sex life?

  • Rebecca: We went on an overnight trip downtown for our anniversary a few months ago. We stayed in a hotel and left our cares at home… It was good sex!

  • Rose: We put all our blankets and pillows on the floor with some candles around our room and drank wine and just cuddled naked… that led to some of the best sex in our marriage thus far.

  • Zoe: We made it more spontaneous.

  • Sarah: Oh man, we haven’t done anything new recently. We need to!

  • Julia: I got some new lingerie which enhances what he likes best about my figure and makes me feel confident and sexy. I only put it on occasionally so it sets a different tone when I do.

  • Suzanne: We’ve been having difficult conversations and being more honest with each other about issues inside and outside of the bedroom, and lifting each other up outside of the bedroom. We also attended the annual Sexual Attachment Conference together from home and that was life-changing.

  • Marianne: We love the games on the Intimately Us app!

  • Lisa: We currently have house guests and our house doesn't have doors that lock… so we found out that our removed garage can be locked. Game changer. It's so much fun because it's our little secret. "Hey honey, meet me in the garage?" Bonus: we can make sounds and it's okay!

  • Christine: We made a recommitment to charting and talking about it at the end of the day (infertility makes charting a chore…) and also night prayer. Oh and my husband occasionally likes a song with a good beat...

  • Elizabeth: We tried a new position and lubricant (coconut oil).

  • Natalie: Abstinence! The best orgasms I ever have are the ones that end a dry spell!

Tell us about the best sex you’ve ever had.

  • Lisa: Of course it was when we were first married and everything was new. We had sex in a public(ish) place and the fear of being caught was something I'll never forget. We don't typically have sex in public spaces!

  • Rose: See my response to the previous question (about cuddling naked on the blankets on the bedroom floor)!

  • Rebecca: It’s usually been when we’re away from home.

  • Zoe: When we are both relaxed and get to just go at it!

  • Julia: Some of the best times have been when we really have fun with it, or when we're on vacation. But I'll be honest, sex has not always been extremely pleasurable for me. When we were first married, it took a long time before it was comfortable and not painful for me and that caused a lot of stress and worry for us both (which can't have helped the situation). These days it's a lot better but I also try not to worry if it's not great every time because I know that some times are just better than others. I still find my husband very sexy want to make love to him a lot, and there have been times when I've been surprised how much I enjoyed it.

  • Suzanne: Because I experienced pain for so long, this is not something I like to focus on because what I treasure most is the depth of intimacy we have forged outside of the physical act of intercourse through our suffering with infertility, painful cramps, and even the effects of painful intercourse. The best sex I have had happened in Mexico without the extra little stressors of life - it did not hurt at all, I was easily aroused, and husband and I were just in tune with one another. But again, even when we have had to stop sex because it hurts, I value how he has loved me through my pain as much as "the best sex I have had". Orgasms are good and should be sought! However, a good orgasm will come and go, but learning to love each other well endures.

  • Natalie: Shortly after having our third child (our little miracle after secondary infertility), we celebrated our anniversary with a rather bleary-eyed steak dinner shared at our dining table after the kids were in bed. After a couple glasses of wine, I shared things with my husband I never had before, things related to my experience of infertility and birth trauma, and how my relationship to my body has dramatically changed since I was a bride. He received every word I shared, and was so empathetic. We'd had deep emotional conversations before, but never about my body, how I had felt violated in birth, and how I had been healed in therapy and after, but still struggled. After that, we had the absolute best sex of my life! It was like he was on a mission to erase all the harm with tenderness. The only word to describe how I felt was worshiped. He knew things about my body and what I had experienced that he didn't understand before. I felt totally received as a person by him, mind, body and soul. Funny enough, the orgasm was not great because two glasses of wine dulls my physical sensations, but I still fantasize about how I felt that night!

  • Sarah: I think it’s been when we have just had a good time emotionally connecting and enjoying each other’s company.

  • Christine: I can't think of a specific instance, but the best times have probably been either when we are able to laugh and joke through the time or when major cuddling and talking about life and dreams has happened after we're finished.

  • Anna: Probably the most spontaneous was when my husband had been working from home and I hopped in the shower after doing lawn work… and then boom, the rest is history!

  • Marianne: It was the first time I surprised my husband with new lingerie when he got back from a trip.

  • Elizabeth: We both enjoy what we call "margarita sex", which happens shortly after my homemade margaritas.

How do/did you keep your sex life fresh during/after TTC?

  • Sarah: During TTC it was hard, especially with all the pressure of our charts being studied and being told we were doing it too much or not enough. Just putting aside the charts and making sex about enjoying each other again helped. Date nights and intentional time together help.

  • Lisa: Taking breaks was huge for us. When we were TTC, everything (especially sex) felt forced and timed. Remembering to use sex for intimacy was key. Also, it's okay not to have sex as much as you think other people are having.

  • Julia: During TTC, I would sometimes drop a cheeky passing comment or text message to my husband during the day so he knew I'd like to make love tonight. That allows him to look forward to it and me to feel some excitement, rather than for either of us to feel like it's an obligation because of ovulation. But also, initiating sex when my husband isn't expecting it (eg. during the daytime or early evening) keeps things fresh.

  • Rose: It definitely got stale.

  • Anna: Honestly, it is still very difficult.

  • Rebecca: I really wish I had a good answer to this. I honestly don’t. We seem to pile up a bunch of days of love-making during my peak/ovulation phase and then we’re so tired we almost forget to make love the other parts of the month.

  • Christine: Asking questions and continuing to learn preferences, and maintaining some kind of humor keeps it going for us.

  • Helen: We stopped charting.

  • Elizabeth: We kept it fresh by not limiting sex to only fertile periods and making sure to try to talk about ways to improve things for each other. Using lubrication was huge for me. I didn't think I needed it for a long time but then learned how much more enjoyable it could be for me.

  • Natalie: We try new positions, experiment and take our sweet time during foreplay and when we can add it, lingerie!

  • Marianne: We love finding silly sex challenges online.

  • Suzanne: I think it is fun to try different rooms of the house or even sit on a table. Invest in each other outside of the bedroom and pursue sex outside of the fertile window as well. Make sure BOTH spouses are enjoying sex rather than reducing it to making a baby alone.

  • Zoe: Alcohol…

What sex positions(s) do you enjoy the most?

  • Christine: We’re fairly traditional, I like to see his face and connect with him and his emotional state.

  • Elizabeth: Missionary seems to be what we both enjoy most. We’ve tried a few others but it's hard when the woman is taller.

  • Suzanne: Missionary. I have to keep it simple due to the potential for pain.

  • Natalie: Cowgirl is the only one where we can achieve simultaneous orgasm so it's our favorite. But doggy style and side-lying are fun too. Our least favorite is missionary. I never feel comfortable in that one.

  • Lisa: Doggy style and captain (wife lays on her back with legs spread wide, husband stands on the side of the bed).

  • Rose: Bent over the bed.

  • Zoe: On top, sideways and from behind.

  • Marianne: Him standing behind while I’m on my knees or standing between my legs (legs up) while I’m on my back.

  • Julia: I'm most comfortable on my back so that is my default but it can be fun and exciting to switch it up, like in the shower!

  • Anna: My husband has a severely damaged back so we have to be very careful and limit ourselves to two positions.

I love it when my spouse…

  • Julia: …talks to me about what he likes or would like me to try.

  • Helen: …does things without me asking… Not even just in the bedroom, but overall!

  • Christine: …is concerned about my overall experience too.

  • Lisa: …takes the time and helps me climax. It seems so much easier for men!

  • Sarah: …initiates. We might be outliers, but I have the higher drive, and it can be hard to be the one who wants to be intimate more and not feel that reciprocated.

  • Elizabeth: …pulls gently on my hair during sex.

  • Rose: …goes down on me.

  • Zoe: …talks while pleasuring me.

  • Marianne: …touches my butt!

  • Anna: …asks me to snuggle.

What impact does sex have on your marriage?

  • Natalie: I would say that sex helps keep us kinder to each other. It’s kinda hard to be tightly wound after that rush of oxytocin. The emotional connection we have to maintain in order to make sex fulfilling for me keeps sex something that we have to be intentional about. It's a tough season right now for us as we are mostly stressed and exhausted, but shouldering that stress and exhaustion alone without that connection and unity would be unbearable, so it's worth the work.

  • Christine: The amount of sex tends to be a good indicator of overall business in our marriage and my mental state/capacity. Making time for more, even when I feel like I'm running on fumes, reminds me I can still make time for my marriage in the midst of it all.

  • Julia: When we don't have sex for a while for one reason or another, I really miss the physical intimacy and start to realize that it impacts our closeness in other ways. In those times we have to be really intentional about having fun together in non-sexual ways to keep the playfulness in our marriage.

  • Lisa: When we don't have sex for a while, I realize that I don't feel as intimately connected. It's important to me to be one with my spouse.

  • Sarah: We have more sex when we feel good and more connected, and I think vice versa too.

  • Suzanne: The issues we had in the bedroom caused us to look more deeply into ourselves and families of origin, and to have difficult but honest conversations that led to deeper intimacy and friendship. Our marriage needs to be healthy if our sex life is going to be healthy.

  • Zoe: It connects us and reminds us of our wedding vows.

  • Helen: It reorients us to each other.

  • Anna: It strengthens our bond, helps us de-stress, and helps us relax more.

  • Rose: It can definitely make or break a mood. When one person wants it and the other person isn’t in the mood it can really cause a rift.

  • Marianne: The more we’re enjoying sex, the more relaxed we are around each other the rest of the time.

Are there any podcasts, apps or resources that you and your spouse use to enhance your sex life?

Disclaimer: any podcasts, apps or resources mentioned here are personal favorites of these individuals and do not come with a blanket endorsement from The Fruitful Hollow. Some of them are Christian but not Catholic. Please use your own discretion and do your own research before deciding whether any resource is appropriate for you.

Lastly, when it comes to sex, what do you wish Catholics talked about more?

  • Natalie: Everything! I wish fewer people were afraid to be direct and explicit, not in a gross or degrading way, but because everywhere else but within the Church people are direct and explicit about sex. We can't afford to use veiled or symbolic language anymore. There is too much pain, too many wounds, too much confusion to be squeamish about naming body parts, sex acts or anything else. I wish people understood the freedom that comes with being honest and the relief that comes from being free to ask questions without judgment.

  • Rebecca: We need to not be afraid to talk about sex with the younger generations. There was so much emphasis on abstinence and chastity when I was a teenager that by the time I got married at 22, we felt we knew NOTHING. I’m not advocating for sex before marriage, but simply that Catholic women, sisters, aunts, mothers, talk to the young ladies in their lives and point them, faithfully, in the right direction.

  • Lisa: Their sex lives! Sex is such a taboo topic but I think it would help a lot of people if we were more open. Also, understanding Catholic teaching on what is allowed in the bedroom is helpful. (For example, you can have oral sex, you just have to finish in the correct space.)

  • Marianne: Specifics on what is/is not allowed, and ideas on how to make what is allowed fun!

  • Julia: The fact that it can be painful or uncomfortable when you're first married and still learning together. The fact that not everyone has the same sex drive (even amongst women) and that's not necessarily an indicator that something is wrong. What's allowed and what isn't - as newlyweds it can be hard to figure that out when it's all new. You have to filter through a lot of questionable advice online to find the good advice out there!

  • Sarah: The difficulties of going from being chaste to married (it takes time to learn each other, and wasn’t super awesome to begin with because we had waited until marriage). The tolls hard seasons of life can take and how to talk through those seasons. What to do when you have unequal drives.

  • Christine: Stretching/mobility, strangely enough. Also, properly reading Casti Connubii... the times I've had that quoted as a reason not to use NFP or have sex as an infertile person is embarrassing.

  • Suzanne: That it should never hurt. That sometimes it is more loving to say no to sex, and that good sex takes hard work by both spouses both inside and outside of the bedroom. And that we should be talking about it!

  • Helen: If it’s not great, how to make it better.

  • Rose: Foreplay. Kinky sex that isn’t looked down on.

  • Anna: Ways to solve barriers: stress, time, anxiety, and enkindling love and meaning through sexual intimacy when conception isn’t likely.

  • Zoe: That sex can be fun and still beautiful and sacred.

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