The Folly of the Fertile Period.
The logic is, to say the very least, fatally flawed. People hold off starting a family or even getting into a relationship, until they are in their early thirties. They want to advance their careers first and a pregnancy could, at least heretofore, have throw a spanner in the works of career advancement. That’s all very understandable and laudable of course. Far be it from me to start passing judgements on these difficult and very personal decisions that we all had to make at some stage in our lives.
But here is where the flawed logic starts to click in. One day, people who have been postponing their first pregnancy for years, sit down together and decide that it may be time to start to “try” for a pregnancy. Typically such a couple may be in their early to mid thirties. Now, for some inexplicable reason, a certain urgency and immediacy seems to grip them. It’s not enough that they should discontinue whatever form or forms of family planning that they have been relying on up to this. No. In addition to this they often seem compelled to “maximise” their chances of success by confining their coital endeavours to certain times of the menstrual cycle; to the so called “fertile periods” and to adapting sexual positions also thought to help the cause along.
There are at least three serious problems with these flawed strategies. Hardly a week goes by but that I would not encounter some of them in my Internet Sexual Dysfunction Practise. The first problem is that there is no such thing as a “fertile period”. Therefore, confining sexual activity to certain times of the month, in the expectation of maximising ones chances of pregnancy, is largely a waste of time and effort. Yes, there is of course a time of ovulation but both sperm and ova can live for days and day each side of this event. Correct me if I’m wrong here but to my knowledge there is no statistical evidence to support the notion of a “fertile period”. The fact of the matter is that a pregnancy can occur at anytime during the menstrual cycle.
“Going for a pregnancy” by confining sexual activity to certain “optimal times” in the menstrual cycle also has a negative effect in that it raises the bar of anxiety all round. Suddenly love making is no longer just that. Now it has become a clinical chore and a challenge – something that needs to be done, not because it’s an end of itself but rather because it will produce a result. This is exactly the bedroom atmosphere that is designed to discourage a woman from becoming pregnant and a man from functioning properly – not the other way around.
I had a letter the other day from a young man living in Saskatoon. He writes: “ Dr. Rynne, I'm a 26 year old male recently married almost a year ago and me and my wife have been trying to have a baby. My penis works great when she is not fertile but during the few days she is and there is \"pressure\" to perform my penis sometimes goes limp or cannot ejaculate. It has progressively gotten worse. It started out doing it towards the end of sex, today was the worse, after having sex last night my wife came home on her lunch break and we tried but my penis would not get hard. (Which has never happened before) It seems to me that this only occurs when there’s pressure to perform. I feel terrible because I feel like I’m dropping the ball on us getting pregnant...please help!”
Does this man not say it all? I rest my case.