An article in the New York Times displayed some grim statistics about sex and marriage. According the author’s analysis of Google searches, “sexless marriage” is at the top of the list for searches on the topic of marriage. Anyone who has been married for a while knows that we can so easily forgot how great sex, and particularly intimacy, can be for every part of our being. If you are trying to conceive or dealing with infertility, the stress around sex and the lack of intimacy can be devastating.
Most of my patients at Blossom Clinic are trying to conceive and have been for a while. If you’ve been struggling with infertility you’ve probably noticed that sex has become noticeably un-sexy. Agree?
Relationships without intimacy will crush our spirit and sense of unity, so it becomes vitally important for those trying to conceive to cultivate intimacy without the expectation of sex attached to it. This can mean different things to different people.
Setting aside 10-30 minutes each day engaging in intimate acts is a great place to start if intimacy has fizzled in your relationship or you are experiencing stress from infertility. Remember, the way I am defining intimacy here, intimate acts do not need to include sex or the expectation of sex. Intimacy means different things to different people and discussing what intimacy means to each of you is probably a good place to start.
Can you challenge yourself to 10-30 minutes a day of intimacy?
- Go for a walk and hold hands the whole time. Don’t let go! Even the simple act of holding hands has been shown to decrease stress levels and cortisone in the body.
- Get out some massage lotion- even olive oil from your kitchen cabinet would work- and take turns massaging each other. Set a timer if necessary. Touch can increase oxytocin in the body, leading to feelings of contentment and euphoria.
- Write down five statements of positive affirmation for your partner and read them to him/her.
- Set a date night and carve out that quality time!
- Try this Circular Breathing Exercise:
Blossom’s Circular Breathing Exercise
In Chinese Medicine we say, “Where the mind goes, the Qi follows”. We can use our mind and our breath to direct our energy where we want it to go. In this exercise, you are physically wrapped around your partner while doing a breathing exercise that creates a breathing loop in your body and a breathing loop in your partner’s body, ultimately creating a figure 8, or two linked circles, between the two of you.
- Step 1: While dressed or undressed, sit facing each other and wrap your legs around each other. If you are not that flexible, it is OK to have your legs a little open. Place your hand over your partner’s heart and begin breathing in and out. Feel your belly rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. Do this for a good minute. Don’t worry about coordinating breaths. And if you laugh, that is OK!
- Step 2: Remove your hand from the heart and wrap your arms around each other. Close your eyes. You each begin by quickly contracting your pelvic muscles. Then, on the inhale, imagine your breath beginning at the bottom of your spine, moving up your spine to the very top of your head. On your exhale, use your mind’s eye to direct your breath slowly down the front of your body past your chest and belly back down and around to the bottom of your spine (your tailbone). Don’t worry about coordinating your breath here — you can breathe in while your partner breathes out. Continue this for as long as it feels comfortable. End with a kiss, thanking your significant other for trying something new and cool!
If any of these suggestions make you feel silly, that’s OK too! Laughter really is the best medicine. I hope this blog has been helpful to you. If you need more ideas for acts of intimacy, please get in touch. Or, hey, if you have some ideas to add to the list, please comment below! I would love to hear from you.
Contributed by Liz Richards, L.Ac.