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SEX AND INFERTILITY: HORMONES TO STIMULATE THE WOMAN’S OVARIES
Women can lose sight of themselves as something more than a baby-making machine. If the man's sperm count is adequate, the physical impact is essentially on the woman. Remembering to take your vaginal temperature every day before you get up and plotting it dutifully on a graph to predict when you will be ovulating is tedious enough. Having to turn on sexually on the right day makes it all very contrived. Sex by the biological stopwatch lacks that certain magic and the lack of spontaneity can become a real bore. Donna tells of the effect it had on her attitude to sex. 'There were times when we were told we had to abstain for days at a time and it could be really difficult, especially if we had been out for a romantic dinner and we would come home and both be seriously in the mood but we had to hold off. Other times I would be overtired or feeling sick and the last thing on my mind was sex but, because the time was right, I just had to do it. It might be putting it a bit strongly, but it almost felt like raping myself.'
Assisted conception involves combinations of hormones to stimulate the woman's ovaries to produce a large number of eggs. This means a large scale upheaval of her hormonal balance. Sally said, 'It's like you have a tenfold dose of premenstrual syndrome. The hormone treatment makes me feel really bloated and cranky, but on top of that I get so scared wondering if it is going to work this time. Brett used to just give me a wide berth but a while ago we had a good long talk and I told him that, even though I had the hazard lights on, what I really needed more than anything was a cuddle.' For many women the process challenges their concept of sexual privacy. 'Those ultrasound scans where they put a probe into your vagina ... they were a bit of a shock at first. After two or three I was on first name terms with the radiographer!'