Infertility is one of the least sexy topics to talk about when you’re trying to have kids. Sure, infertility is discouraging in of itself, but hearing the statistics and overly specific medical language is sometimes enough to kill the mood. In fact, infertile women have competing depression rates with those diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and HIV.
In short, it’s easy for infertile women to feel unsexy and depressed. Not so great for when you’re trying to have kids.
But a recent study--an “intervention” into women’s infertility experiences--called Let’s Get Sexty! tries a unique solution. Like the name might suggest, this study examines women going through fertility treatment and the effect that sexting has on their relationships and sex lives.
In case you didn’t know, sexting is exactly what it sounds like - “sexy texting.” Essentially, the study describes sexting as sending sexual (flirty, suggestive, or even explicit) messages or photos via electronic means such as instant messenger.
So why sexting? Well, the researchers defined sexting as a type of “sexual communication,” which means it could help couples become more in tune with each other’s likes and dislikes. Even couples that have been in a monogamous relationship for years may not know everything about their partner’s sexual preferences. One of the most notable studies followed 104 heterosexual couples and found that most people only understood 62 percent of what their partners liked and 26 percent of what their partners disliked.
If couples express their sexual feelings and want toward each other, they could possibly get more satisfaction out of their relationship. Additionally, it’s usually easier for people to try something new when it involves something they already do. If people text, why not sext?
Sexting may seem like just another horny game, but that’s the point - it’s like a game. It adds a layer of playfulness to a couple’s sex life. With the necessary technicalities and scheduling behind effective conception, the increasingly mechanical nature of the couple’s relationship makes sex less spontaneous and passionate. Especially with women experiencing infertility, sexting can help clear the air and make sex seem like less of a chore. Let’s Get Sexty! hoped to not only give infertile women a way to alleviate stress but also improve their quality of life in general.
Only women who were trying to conceive for over 6 months without success were eligible for the study. Once recruited (usually from a fertility clinic or social media site), women would experiment with sexting and report its effect on their relationship and overall satisfaction. The study instructed women to take two assessments over 16 weeks, asking them about the nature of their relationship with their partner and sexting habits, and watch one educational video about sexting.
The study used established self-reporting methods such as the Index of Sexual Satisfaction and others to analyze relationship satisfaction, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction. By the end of the study, most women reported positive results. Apparently, their partners enjoyed it and so did they. Higher feelings of satisfaction all around. Sexting doesn’t necessarily improve conception rates but can help couples express their feelings toward each other, therefore improve relationship satisfaction and help couples cope with infertility.
However, one of the glaring issues with the study is its lack of participants. Only 21 women completed the baseline survey, and further communication issues between the researchers and the slashed the number of already few remaining participants. A measly 5 women responded to the final survey and were counted as the “analyzed sample.” The author attributes the lack of willing participants to the multiple factors such as the perhaps-not-thorough enough recruitment process, the already stressful nature of infertility, and the perceived riskiness of sexting.
The author of the study suggested that, with the current success of the study, other groups like couples with health issues (heart disease, etc.), military couples, and women going through menopause could also benefit from regular sexting.
To read more about the study, you could find it on ProQuest as Sexting and Fertility: An Intervention on Sexual Communication and Empowerment by Emily Stasko.