There’s nothing sexy about conception sex.

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This may come as a surprise
if you’ve (a) never tried to make a baby or (b) become pregnant easily.
But it’s true. Even when the person you’re trying to impregnate is,
say, Halle Berry. Baby-making was hard work for 41-year-old Halle:
“There was a lot of staying home and doing what you do,” she told Oprah
recently. “Like, all the time, around the clock.”

Of course, the harder you have to try, the less fun sex becomes until
you eventually reach the point where you’d rather eat a bowl of
fingernails than roll around naked with the one you love.

After years of being warned by the contraception police about how easy
it is to get pregnant, it’s often a shock to discover it can be harder
than simply binning your condoms and throwing your legs up in the air.

Sometimes it seems like your chances of conceiving are inversely proportional to how much you want to be pregnant. Sixteen years old? Dating someone entirely unsuitable? Skipped one pill when your script ran out? Condom broke during a one-night stand? Bingo. A sperm and egg hook-up is practically guaranteed.

But if you’re desperate to conceive after a miscarriage? Battling infertility? Biological clock ticking at deafening volume? That’s when sperm will say “Look egg, sorry, but I’m just not that into you” before swimming away. Or egg will decide it can’t be bothered venturing into the uterus singles bar, swarming with desperado sperm and stay inside its ovary eating Tim Tams on the couch.

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I know several exhausted couples trying to get pregnant at the moment. They used to really like having sex with each other but now they mutter words like “stressful”, “not again” and “over it”. They may be having a year’s worth of sex every month but it’s not Big Nude Fun because conception is not about pleasure.  Oh no. It’s about the destination, not the journey. And the destination is a labour ward not an orgasm.

Then there’s all that sexy conception talk. From past personal experience, I’ve found there’s nothing that puts a smile in a man’s pants faster than the words “ovulation” and “basal body temperature”. Just try to keep his hands off you after that!

And forget the lingerie. All you really need to turn on your partner is to wave a thermometer around and shriek like a fishwife: “Hurry up, will you! I’m OVULATING!” If he demands proof, you can always pore over your ovulation graph together. Who needs porn when you have a graph!

In his book Marley & Me, author John Grogan described the stress of impregnating his wife. “The days of simply putting away the birth control pills and letting whatever might happen happen were behind us. In the insemination wars, Jenny was going on the offensive. For that, she needed me, a key ally who controlled the flow of ammunition.”

Yes, after a lifetime of wanting more sex, Grogan unexpectedly found himself on the back foot. “I began to live in mortal fear that my wife would, God forbid, ask me to rip her clothes off and have my way with her…She was the hunter; I was the prey…suddenly it all just seemed like work and stressful work at that. It was all about as arousing as a tax audit.”

At conception time, the cliché about men not getting enough sex in long-term relationships is spectacularly turned on its head. Suddenly, it’s the blokes who are feigning headaches, pretending to be asleep or trying to hide from demented naked women clutching ovulation charts and chasing them around the house.

“Yeah – it’s the only time you’ll ever hear a guy say
‘You want to what? Tonight? AGAIN? Really? Do we HAVE to?’” recalls a newly pregnant friend who persistently mauled her husband for eleven months (now she’s knocked up of course, he’s back to begging for it and she just wants to eat chocolate and go to sleep).

With all that pressure to deliver the goods, it’s no wonder some men develop performance anxiety. John Grogan writes about his growing panic at having to ensure his sperm supply could meet the unprecedented demand until one night his penis simply goes on strike and lays down tools.

“I felt like a walking sperm syringe,” protested another guy I know who went from begging for sex to begging for mercy after just three months of baby making. And in case you’re thinking it’s fun for the girls; nuh-uh. “I remember lying there one very fertile night asking “Can you just tell me when you’re finished?” sighs one girlfriend. “I was quite possibly asleep the moment our son was conceived.”

Complains another: “Why do your most fertile nights never fall on a weekend or any other time you actually feel like it? Usually for me it’s a Monday or Tuesday which are my go-to-bed-early-wearing-old-nanna-knickers- nights.”
Wonders yet another: “How can I enjoy it when my head is full of clinical thoughts like ‘I wonder if this will work…Oh God this is only night one of the 15 shags in a row I have to have this month…Why didn’t I start this 10 years ago when I was more fertile? What time does kindy start tomorrow and is it dress up day?”

Sadly, the first casualty of conception sex is romance. Next? Spontaneity. Finally? Dignity. Bye-bye. All gone.

“I used to stand on my head after sex,” admits one friend who swapped post-coital cuddles for headstands in a desperate attempt to kick things along with gravity.  She did this unsuccessfully for a year before abandoning nature for IVF. Her husband, bless him, used to hold her feet.

“We used REM sex to conceive,” emailed a male friend whose wife is pregnant with their second child. “This is when all other positions, fantasies and battery powered devices fail and you have to rely on the male physiological phenomena of spontaneous erections every 90 minutes whilst REM sleeping.”
Messy, exhausting, interrupted sleep? Sounds to me like perfect preparation for life with a newborn.

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