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Is 'Performance Anxiety' Normal When Trying To Conceive? An OB-GYN Explains

There is a lot of conversation about sex after baby — what feels different, how to recapture the romance, when to find an ounce of time — but what about sex before baby, particularly when trying to make one? All of a sudden this natural activity that you enjoyed without pressure comes with rules, charting, tracking, and expectations. All of that can really zap the spontaneity and passion out of getting hot and heavy, and sex with added tension makes things, well, a no-go for some couples. But is performance anxiety normal when trying to conceive?

“Sexual performance anxiety is actually quite normal for couples who are trying to conceive,” Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a Mississippi-based board-certified OB-GYN, tells Romper in an email interview. “The anxiety tends to increase the longer the couple tries without success.”

In fact, in addition to the pressure that comes with sex taking on a new meaning, fertility issues are one of the top causes of performance anxiety. “When a couple has been trying to have a baby without success for months or even years, technically speaking, the process can stay the same, but it somehow feels completely different,” noted the Fertility Authority.

Of course, if you have been faced with many unsuccessful attempts, then you should speak to your healthcare provider about a fertility evaluation.

Richardson says, however, that there are several ways to prevent sexual performance anxiety. The top method? “Keep the romance,” she says, adding that even though the goal is to achieve pregnancy, couples need to remember that the relationship is still about them. “It is imperative that they make each other feel special, sexy, and desired,” she says. “Otherwise, sex begins to feel like a job instead of for pleasure, and people tend to have anxiety when they feel like they have to perform on a set schedule.”

Try to also take the pressure off by keeping in mind that it is normal for a woman to take up to one year to become pregnant, which is especially important to know in order to keep from jumping to conclusions of infertility. Consider also simply embracing the anxiety and staying on track with other activities the two of you enjoy together, like exercising or Netflix bingeing, to take your mind off of TTC.

It reminds me of the age old advice that "a watched pot never boils." Translation in baby-making terms: Trying to conceive feels a helluva lot more difficult when you put the pressure on. Relax, enjoy the unprotected sex, and try not to stress your partner or yourself out.