The past few days I’ve been enjoying some alone time with my hubby, Jacob, who is back for a four week visit from Oxford, where he's currently working. Mattea was away in Ottawa visiting her cousins, so we had some truly precious quality couple time to enjoy – woohoo! When friends and family asked what we were up to I replied “staying in bed all day. Enough said, right?!” But what might surprise you is that I planned it that way. Yep, I even took a day and a half off of work to enjoy that. Why? Because I knew I would be ovulating on the weekend and that for a good 48 hours I was likely to have a hard time thinking about anything except my hunky husband in the next room over. So I planned for it.
Was I able to totally calculate the exact day I would be ovulating five months ago when I booked for my daughter to be away in Ottawa? Not exactly, but close! My cycle varies by a few days from cycle to cycle so I couldn’t be exactly sure but I had a pretty good idea.
A friend recently confided that in desperation during a day before ovulation she pulled her Honey out on the balcony for sex because she couldn’t find any privacy inside her home away from her young daughter and visiting mother-in-law. Which got me thinking about all my clients who are struggling with less satisfying sex lives and how helpful planning and communication can be.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of sex when you’re most likely to want it:
- Learn to track ovulation. Most women keep rough track of when their periods come, but unless you are among the growing minority of women who use natural birth control, you probably aren't tracking your ovulation. For most healthy women ovulation occurs 12-14 days before the first day of your period. (If you're on the pill you aren't ovulating, for more on that, click here). Just before women ovulate is when their estrogen and testosterone levels are highest, leading to increased sociability and a higher sex drive. By learning to track ovulation you'll be in a better position to anticipate your heightened sexual desire.
- If you’re using a charting app, beware of inaccurate calculations. Period apps that help you track your monthly cycles can be helpful, but they are limited in their capacity to give you accurate predictions of your times of fertility, ovulation and period. This is because they aren't designed to account for individual variation. Very few women have a textbook 28 day cycle with ovulation occurring on day 14. Additionally, apps can't take into consideration lifestyle factors such as stress, illness or travel, which all have the ability to alter ovulation. It's best to choose an app that allows you to turn "prediction" off.
- Take note of your unique patterns. While most women experience the height of their sexual desire just prior to ovulation, individual hormonal patterns do vary. Furthermore, women tend to experience different types of sexual desire at different times in their cycle. For example, some women experience a desire for slow intimate love-making around the time of menstruation, while other times of the cycle might bring out a desire for fast, rowdy sexual experiences. Tracking your individual hormonal responses will help you to plan and communicate your sexual moods to a partner, or, if you're single, to plan for ways to have your different needs met. (For example, contact dance is a great way to satisfy the desire for human touch in a safe, non-sexual environment).
- Plan your birth control strategy in advance. If you are ovulating, then you're likely not using hormonal methods of birth control, and are instead relying on barrier methods of birth control (condoms, cervical cap), or perhaps withdrawal, hopefully in conjunction with a fertility awareness method like the Justisse Method we teach at Red Tent Sisters. Depending on your level of commitment to not getting pregnant, we recommend abstinence from vaginal penetration, use of two methods of birth control (e.g., condom plus withdrawal) or one method of birth control if you are a little more open to the idea of an unplanned pregnancy. Wherever you are on the spectrum, you'll want to communicate your plan ahead of time to your partner so you're both on the same page. Women are more likely during their fertile times to engage in risky behaviour, so communicating a plan in advance is essential.
- Set time aside to enjoy your heightened sexuality. We realize not everyone is self-employed and can rearrange their work to accommodate their sex lives! However, there are lots of things you can do to plan to take advantage of this time in your cycle. If you're a parent, arrange for childcare. If you are single, plan a date with yourself - get a sexy movie, or go out dancing with friends. If you can, avoid booking family events or other activities within your control on these days so that you are more likely to be able to be able to lie around in bed for a few hours without the pressure of having to rush off to the next thing on your daytimer.
Kim & Amy Sedgwick love to discuss sex, periods, and all the other things we’re not supposed to talk about. The co-founders of Red Tent Sisters and ecosex.ca, they’ve been featured in every major Canadian news outlet and have become a trusted resource for women seeking natural (effective!) birth control, a more joyful sex life, and an empowered journey to motherhood.