Study reveals what women really think about 'baby-making sex'

The study found the quest for a baby had resulted in "inconvenient or unromantic" sex.
The study found the quest for a baby had resulted in "inconvenient or unromantic" sex. Photo: Shutterstock

Baby-making sex is "inconvenient and unromantic" finds a new study of women actively trying to conceive, with many women also underestimating just how long it would take them to fall pregnant.

Medical technology company Ava, the team behind the fertility tracking Ava Bracelet, conducted a survey of women's attitudes to conceiving, as well as misconceptions around fertility in general. According to the results, published in a report this week, many women do not have a realistic expectation of the time it can take to conceive or of the importance of timing sex around the "six-day fertile window."

Many of the 2100 women surveyed, all of whom reside in the US and Europe, also shared that talking about trying to conceive (TTC) and other issues relating to fertility is still taboo - and that hearing of friends' pregnancies can be stressful and upsetting.

"It's unfortunate how much stress and frustration women still experience today around the process of getting pregnant, and about the discomfort many woman feel about sharing their fertility experiences with others," Ava co-founder Lea von Bidder said in a statement.

For 51 per cent of couples, the quest for a baby had resulted in "inconvenient or unromantic" sex - although the number was higher for US women (72 per cent) than French women (29 per cent). And in news unlikely to surprise those who've experienced fertility issues in their own conception journey, for many couples, trying for a baby takes the passion and "fun" right out of their sex lives. A little under half of US women shared that at some stage, they'd had to convince their partner to have sex during their fertile window, when he wasn't "in the mood".

"The stereotype of couples jumping into bed to take advantage of a woman's ovulation seems to have some basis in reality based on our findings," said Julie Spiers, Market Manger for Ava, Europe. "However, it's interesting to see the contrast between the 72 per cent  of American women who admitted having unromantic sex in order to take advantage of the fertile window, versus only 29 per cent of French women. It's unclear whether French women are simply less willing to have sex when it doesn't feel romantic, or more able to get in the mood at the drop of a hat than American women."

But the fact that many couples are having unsexy sex while trying to make a baby, wasn't the only interesting finding to arise from the online poll.

  • More than three-quarters of women said they underestimated the amount of time it would take to fall pregnant.
  • Almost half of women (48 per cent) shared that they did not understand the importance of tracking their fertile days and timing sex around this window. 
  • Older women were more likely than younger women to discount the importance of timing sex around ovulation.
  • 60 per cent of women admitted that they don't feel comfortable talking about fertility with anyone other than close friends or family.
  • 70 per cent noted that few - if any - of their co-workers knew they were trying to have a baby.

The most common reason for keeping quiet about making plans will be oh-so-familiar to those who've been there themselves: being asked for constant updates is downright annoying.

"Fertility and the baby-making journey is still very much a private matter even today – especially in Germany and among women over 40, but this is not necessarily about shame," Ms von Bidder said. "For most, the reason to stay quiet was mostly to avoid persistent questioning and requests for updates." 

Participants also shared the heartache of TTC and hearing other people's pregnancy announcements, with 80 per cent revealing that hearing baby news had caused them stress and/or depression. For women over 40 this number was even higher - 86 per cent reported feeling stressed and sad upon hearing of others' pregnancies.

"American women were the most likely to feel depressed when they heard other women's pregnancy announcements," said Lindsay Meisel, Ava's Research and Science Editor, explaining that the team attributed this finding to the "pervasiveness of social media like Facebook and Instagram in the US compared to other countries".