Trying to get pregnant makes some women hornier. The bad news? Trying too hard can backfire. Because while it’s true that ovulation releases hormones that increases her libido, pressure to perform often gets in the way of pleasure.
“Neurologically and neurochemically, everything is working in your brain during ovulation to get you interested in sex,” Dr. Leah Millheiser, an OB-GYN and professor at Stanford University, told Fatherly. “Most women will have an increased sex drive during ovulation.”
Ovulation usually occurs between 12 and 14 days before women’s menstrual cycles start. Increases in estrogen and the luteinizing hormone cause ovaries to release the eggs, but these hormones are also correlated with sex drive. Women are more likely to masturbate, respond to sexual images, fantasize, have sex, and orgasm during the 12 to 48 hours they’re ovulating, studies show.
For men that could mean a lot of “timed-intercourse”—especially when fertility-tracking apps enter the picture. One study of more than 400 men found that, after six months of scheduled intercourse sessions for the purpose of having a baby, men were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and more likely to cheat. Other data similarly indicates that general relationship stress and anxiety can increase erectile dysfunction and infidelity, and that struggles with fertility are especially trying for couples. “It is clear that the greater instances of timed intercourse trials, the more incidences of erectile dysfunction and extramarital sex and the greater the desire to avoid sex with the intended partner,” study authors wrote.
Millheiser discourages rigidly timed sex sessions, altogether. “Men also want to feel special and important,” she says. And while women are primed to seek out sex around ovulation, focusing too much on getting pregnant can eventually lead to anxiety and depression for them, too. Then all that’s left is two stressed-out people who want a baby so badly that they cannot enjoy the sex they need to have to make one.
Millheiser recommends couples make a point of having sex spontaneously outside of ovulation, and when sex is scheduled to enjoy it, regardless of the outcome. “It’s normal to become hyper-focused on it, but what they don’t focus on is that once you get pregnant you’re still going to need intimacy in your relationship,“ Millheiser says. “All you can do is have sex, whether or not there’s a baby remains to be seen. But if you’re going to engage in the act you may as well enjoy it.