Have You Guys Ever Thought About Scheduling Sex?

Does it really... work?

man and woman walking in a field

My partner and I tried a few different things before we ever sat down and had an honest conversation about scheduling sex. After all, making a timetable for sex is kind of the opposite of sexy, right? Anytime we even got close to talking about it, I would immediately flash back to an early episode of Grey’s, when Addison and Derek are discussing the fact that they never had to schedule sex in med school, with the implication that their marriage must be in trouble because they were now doing so. As the viewer, you understand that of course their marriage is in trouble and Derek is totes in love with Meredith… which didn’t do a lot to make me feel better about the situation.

Our first step was to come up with what our schedule would look like: Did we mean sex three times a week? Always on the same days? Did we mean daily sex? Given our busy lives, was that even a remote possibility? If we’re scheduling the time and date, should we also schedule where we have it? What if extenuating circumstances pop up (and they do)—do we reschedule for the next day or skip the day completely? And most importantly to both of us: If we were serious about scheduling sex, how did we plan to make it something sexy to do? Because you know what? Nothing makes me less likely to be down for getting busy like knowing it’s “time” to.

Clearly we had lots of questions… and once we settled on schedule (MWF), we managed to stick to it for about… one week. It turned out that for us, scheduling sex wasn’t nearly as helpful as we hoped it might be, and it made sex feel like a chore. Since our goal was to have sex more regularly, we switched gears and started going out on dates together, making sure we complimented one another suggestively as well as sweetly, and you know, just touched each other more frequently. It turns out that something like sitting intertwined on the couch can go a long way.

I’m curious about you, though. Would you guys consider scheduling sex? Have you? Why or why not?

Have you scheduled sex? Did it work—did you stick to your schedule? Did it benefit your relationship at all? how can you schedule sex without it feeling like a chore?

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  • anonymouse

    “we switched gears and started going out on dates together”
    So, scheduling dates can be how you actually schedule sex.

    Alternatively, people talk a bit about some needing to have sex to feel emotionally close, while others need to feel emotionally close to have sex. Increasing the dates, compliments, bedtime cuddling, touching, etc. should bring those who need to feel close-first to that goal.

    But yeah, scheduling dates so both parties generally expect (not require!) sex to happen afterward can help a great deal. You’re both a bit fancied up (whatever that looks like for you), bumped up the emotional connection a bit, and [hopefully] had a good time. It’s not so much scheduling as setting up as many of the conditions to be right, as possible.

  • anon for this

    Wow, okay, this is a current issue for us. The main thing is that…I don’t know. I can initiate sex and then we’ll have sex. But I get really tired of initiating it all the time, because I’m honestly indifferent to whether or not we even have sex. It doesn’t bother me if we have sex once a month as opposed to thrice a week, other than as a sort of marker on our relationship. But I’ve learned if I just don’t initiate it for a while, then we don’t have it, and then my partner becomes less happy about things because they want us to be having regular sex. Which I don’t mind. But if I wait for them to initiate it, they don’t.

    • anonymouse

      Have you talked to your partner about this? If you don’t, they won’t know it’s actually an issue.
      Is there a reason why partner doesn’t initiate (fear of rejection)? Is there a safe sort of behavior pattern that partner could learn to attempt to initiate? Joking a bit helps, especially at first.

      • anon for this

        it is something we should talk about, I realize that. We’ve talked about sex a number of times and it’s…ehn. Talking about sex is muchless satisfying than having it, hah, so I’m like ‘I can talk about it or I can just initiate it’. I’m much…chattier than them, so again it’s one of those things I can initate a conversation about, but for it to not be taken as a ‘you need to initiate sex for us to have sex’ is a lot harder. Especially because I have been too stressed with other life events to initate in a while, so I feel like now that I can be back on my game I should be for a while before I try to make any statements on the topic.

        • anonymouse

          You don’t need to say “You need to initiate sex for us to have sex”, as you have sex even when partner doesn’t initiate, because you’re capable of initiating, too. Think of it as a group project. You take turns or something like that.

          It’s also possible Partner thinks s/he *is* initiating, and so you’re building up this opposing perception and clearing the air with a conversation might be able to clarify all that sooner rather than later. Start solving your problems now, instead of later when you’re libido-less (because of stress, work, tiredness, etc.)?

          • anon for this

            Hah, yeah, that’s part of why this post is timely, is because I have been pretty libido-less due to stress of a known quantity and while we tried to talk about it last month it really didn’t go anywhere around me pulling 12 hour work days. Now that that is over, I know we should try talking about it again… Although again, part of me wants to give things a chance to just happen now there aren’t external stressors. I don’t know.

          • Violet

            Maybe your life is just smoother than mine, but I feel like we handle external stressors on the regular. (Or maybe I just have a lower threshold for what constitutes stressful? Lots of things affect my libido.) We’ve taken to just discussing all kinds of things, all the time, because our lives rarely stay calm for very long stretches at a time. I totally get just wanting to see how things go now that stress has died down, but I just wanted to plug for talking things through.

    • anon too today

      anon just to say totally in this boat with you. In our case it’s because I experience pain (and yes, don’t need lots of people jumping on to say have you tried XYZ – we’re working on it and I have tried lots of things from therapy to pelvic floor work) so it’s also hard for me to want to initiate because I’m not sure if it’ll be painful this time or not. And he doesn’t want to initiate because he doesn’t want to hurt me (or have it start out well and possibly go well, but always with the brakes nearby). Anyway, just saying solidarity for being in this frustrating space.

      • Violet

        I want to second the idea of having the brakes nearby, and say that’s a good idea regardless of the reason (i.e., pain or no). For a while I kind of thought that as soon as we were into it, we *had* to go all the way. It took a while for me to come around to the idea that, yes, we can stop, and no, my partner will in No Way be upset by that. He’d be upset if I kept going when I just wasn’t into it.

      • Lexipedia

        Having been someone who used to experience pain (vulvar vestibulitis), and occasionally still does, I understand the frustration of “have you tried” or “it will get better if you” – so I’m hesitant to make a suggestion even though it really worked for me as an occasional bandaid. But nobody told me about it, and when I found out I wish I had known a long time ago. Again, feel free to disregard.

        Have you tried EMLA cream? It’s a lidocaine and prilocaine gel (over the counter) that really helped me when I was determined to have sex right then and there but was concerned about pain. Recommended my my ob/gyn who specialized in these things and it was a total lifesaver. Just a couple dabs and follow the directions on the tube – occasional pain-free sex. It doesn’t address the root of the problem, but darn was it nice to have the option every once in a while.

        But, solidarity.

      • Pain in the Hooha

        I am right there with you on this. For essentially the last 4 years of our relationship I have experienced pain during sex and it has been a huge emotional and physical challenge for me/us. I have been to numerous doctors, PTs, pelvic floor yoga classes, massage therapists (one of the only things that has had any positive effect) and it is still an issue. I just recently got pregnant. It took 9 months to happen and I was reaching the end of my rope for being able to handle all the “trying” it took each month. We essentially didn’t have sex at all during the month except for the week I was ovulating because I just couldn’t do it. Now that I’m pregnant, we’ve only had (non-penetrative) sexy time maybe twice. I feel bad, but also…no. I felt like I forced myself for months for the sake of pregnancy and now I’m having a hard time wanting to go there. I’m hoping the pregnancy will actually help with the pain as I’m pretty sure it’s related to muscle/scar tissue from previous ovarian cysts and maybe everything will get stretched out and fixed (one can dream). I hope you can find an answer to your pain soon.

  • Amy March

    Isn’t this what calendar invites are for? I’ve totally done it, and haven’t seen it as a reflection of a problem at all. Sometimes life is busy, I schedule everything else I value and want to make a priority, so yeah sex is on there sometimes because otherwise other plans will fill all the available hours. Do you schedule time to go to the gym? Time to clean the house? Time to catch up on TV? I don’t think scheduling sex needs to be about the health of your intimacy at all, except as a way to make sure it happens.

    • Jessica

      We haven’t gotten to a calendar invite yet, but we will definitely say “let’s get busy tomorrow,” or “what are you up to Friday *wink*wink*”

      Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but it does let us know that we are on the other’s mind and mentally are totally down, but sometimes the physical doesn’t happen.

      • Anon like everyone else today

        This is pretty much us. We’ll say in the morning that we need to make it a priority that night, or if we’re just way way too tired one night, we’ll talk about how to make sure it happens the next night. Works for us.

    • elysiarenee

      wait wait…so you do schedule time to catch up on tv and clean?

      • Amy March

        Not like all the time, but if they are something that I think hasn’t happened recently enough, sure! I’m talking about setting aside an hour on Sunday for laundry, or making time for Downton Abbey on a Monday night.

  • A Nonny Moose

    Yup, we schedule sex all the time. It’s never felt weird to me. We started scheduling it before we even started having sex… in undergrad we would schedule heavy make-out sessions for when we knew roommates would be in class/activities and not likely to walk in on us without clothes on. Now we schedule it so that it happens and we know what activities we are doing that day. It doesn’t seem weird at all.

    I mean, I schedule time to do other important emotional activities and it doesn’t mean that they matter less. Like, I have a scheduled time to call my mom every week, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about talking to her because I don’t just call her up whenever. It just makes it be something that actually happens.

  • ruth

    I’d never thought of it as “scheduling” per say, but we always leave a least one weekend day open for “fun.” It’s not so much scheduling sex as not-scheduling errands, events and other commitments during that time. We’ve gotten to the point where quality is much more important than quantity – i.e. I’d rather have sex once a week that’s epically fabulous or just blissfully relaxed because we have all the time / energy to make it so rather than several mediocre quickies on stressed harried work nights. Also we’ve discovered that weekend mornings are much better for us than nights – because by the end of the day it’s so easy to just be exhausted. I’d never looked at “scheduling” as being a problem, rather it’s that you’re prioritizing your relationship and your sex life, which I think is awesome

  • Sarah E

    We’ve tried some soft scheduling. That is, not on the calendar but thinking and planning ahead. Our schedules are fairly opposite (his: flexible but basically 9-5, mine: more rigid, but working mostly weekends and evenings), so to find time that we’re together and not dog-tired can be tricky.

    Our soft scheduling comes more from discussions like: Geez, Thursdays just never seem to work, even when we’re both interested, wtf? Or, we’re really early afternoon/before dinner kind of people, aren’t we? Huh. Or text messages ahead of time with suggestions so that we’re both in gear (or at least getting distractions out of the way) when we’re together.

    So we skip Thursdays, focus on initiating earlier in the day. We’ve tried the sex every day commitment for a week or a month at a time as a jump start when need be. We find it relieves pressure (lots of sex coming up, so not every sesh needs to be epic!) and helps find the times/places/methods that work best for us because we’re experimenting/practicing.

  • Hey Nonny Nonny(mous)

    Scheduling doesn’t work for me because it puts too much pressure on me. Like I feel like because it’s planned, we have to do it, and then I’m so not in the mood.

  • Anon

    The closest we get is that if one of us initiates and the other is too tired/not in the mood/etc, the person who’s not into it suggests a new time to get down (e.g., the next day, something special on the weekend, etc). We treat it kind of like if a friend asks you to do something–you wouldn’t just say “no” and leave it at that, especially if you want them to know that you care/are interested in spending time with them, but the timing just doesn’t work.

    • Anonamoose

      This is similar to what we do. The main reason is that my partner likes longer / more involved sessions that I’m usually too tired to do spontaneously on a weeknight (honestly, I get really grumpy if I think I’m about to get to fall asleep only to find out he wants to stay up for another hour or longer when I know that alarm clock will be ringing bright and early the next morning). If he initiates a quickie – I’m down. But if it’s going to be 45 minutes or longer, I need to set aside some time and not be too tired or overbooked.

  • Anon

    I love this idea and I wish we did it. I like getting myself in that frame of mind; for me, the build up and anticipation are key. When I brought this up to my partner however, he was against it. However, we have more or less fallen into a fairly predictable routine without really even trying to, and maybe that’s for the best. Maybe it’s one thing to be predictable, and quite another to plan on being predictable. Maybe saying it out loud and penciling it in end up being a boner killer.

  • CATL

    We sort of schedule our sexy times… not on the same days during the week or anything, but more, “Hey I’m feeling sexual, can we do this, if not tonight then tomorrow,” kind of thing. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes things come up and it doesn’t. And sometimes its spontaneous too. But I find I’m not always in the mood for the spontaneity, so knowing it’s going to happen on a certain night helps me wrap my head around it, and helps me look forward to it more and gets me in the mood. It works for us. Plus, I’m all about communication in that aspect. If he needs it, he asks for it, and I do the same for him.

  • Listening to my body for sex

    Sort of – I am pre-engaged and abstaining from sex until marriage, but I already plan to “schedule” sex. I have not selected a specific method yet but I plan to use a Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for birth control, also known as Natural Family Planning (NFP).

    With a FAM, if my future husband and I are planning on avoiding getting pregnant, there will be maybe one week per month when sex is off the table. So we’ll need to limit ourselves to sex during the rest of the month. This will be super helpful to keep track of for when we ARE planning to get pregnant.


    While we’re on the topic – There are about 20 different methods on my tracker app Ovuview! Don’t worry I know the rhythm method is a load of crap. Any thoughts out there on the Creighton Model versus the Sympto-Thermal method?

    • Alexandra

      Hee hee FAM1 and FAM2 is what we should name our two kids. We abstained from sex until marriage, too, and couldn’t pull off the one week per month sex off the table thing. Hence the kids.

      I recommend condoms.

      • Amy March

        Unless you have religious objections to birth control, or complicated allergies etc, there’s really no downside to them.

        It always makes me a bit sad when people who haven’t had sex preemptively give up on sex when they are ovulating. It’s the most appealing and pleasurable time to have sex for many women.

        • Lisa

          And something I don’t understand as a Catholic is that all birth control options are not allowed, but NFP is suggested during Pre-Cana. Isn’t planning not to have sex during a time when you could get pregnant not also a form of birth control?

          • Carolyn S

            birth control is a pretty big deal of discussion in the evangelical circles I used to run in too. Anything hormonal was considered abortive (without really doing any research) and a lot of the men didn’t want to use condoms because “i didn’t wait until I was married to have sex to still have to use a condom.” We run the risk of this thread going off the rails if we get into a real discussion about birth control, because I know from experience it can get HEATED. That said, anyone using FAM should know that, as long as they are fertile, there is a pretty good chance they are going to get pregnant. Husbands should also know that it does remove sex during the week their wives generally want it most.

          • So there can be a high risk of “user error” with FAMs, but the idea that it’s always going to fail actually got me pretty anxious when my husband and I made it through a year using FAM to avoid conceiving and I wasn’t pregnant. I thought maybe we were going to have problems with infertility! Nope, the first month we stopped using FAM I got pregnant. I know people who have used FAM exclusively to avoid pregnancy for years.
            Lisa — if this helps, here’s an anology for thr Catholic position: using FAM is like going on a diet to lose weight, while any kind of birth control is like throwing up to lose weight. The goal is morally acceptable in both cases, but on one hand you’re avoiding foods that make you gain weight, while on the other you’re still eating the food but using unnatural methods to avoid the consequences. Not a perfect analogy (and no disrespect intended toward those who do use birth control — I’m just trying to explain the Church’s logic). I know lots of people disagree with the Catholic position here at APW and I’m not really looking for a debate, just trying to clarify things for Lisa.

          • Kalë

            Hey – totally off topic, but I really appreciate the factual, non-judgmental explanation! I’m not religious (Catholic or otherwise), so this is a great explanation for me, as someone who never really understood the Catholic position. So, thanks!

          • Anon

            I’ve also read that many people really appreciate the “coming back together” sex after their week-ish of abstinence every month. I know the longer we go in between times of being physically intimate the more fun we have…So that’s not exactly in the church teaching but a benefit, and kind of tied in with the whole “scheduling sex” conversation. I might be weird but at least at this point, it seems like a GOOD thing for our sex lives to have some gaps (might be different with kids in the picture/once we are living together though…)

          • Lisa

            As you said, it’s not a perfect analogy, but the first thing that comes to my mind is that, while dieting works for some people, it doesn’t always work for everyone. I’m thinking of people who end up needing medical intervention to lose weight, and that’s how I view birth control, too. My parents both come from very large families (9 and 11 children), and I’m not comfortable with the idea that I might have similar levels of fertility.

            I won’t continue to nitpick the analogy since you readily admitted it’s not perfect. My understanding of what I’ve been told of church doctrine is that all sex needs to be open to procreation, and NFP contradicts that stance. I went back in and read some of the Catechism this morning, and it says that sex is equally designed for unitive and procreative purposes. If one of these is not present, it is “disordered.” That’s how I understand what I’m reading and what I’ve been told for years by other members of the church.

          • Mary Jo TC

            If I were to nitpick the analogy, I would say diet pills or gastric bypass surgery or liposuction instead of throwing up.
            You’re right that church doctrine is that the purpose of sex is both unitive and procreative. But sex during infertile weeks (as with NFP) is not considered morally wrong. If it were, by that logic, then infertile married couples and old couples would be forbidden to have sex. The difference is that NFP (and sex by naturally infertile married couples) does not put up an artificial barrier to conception. In theory, God could reach in there and make a miracle birth and you wouldn’t be stopping that from happening. You’re open to life. Maybe not really, but at least you’re not taking any artificial action (and selected abstinence is indeed natural) to prevent it. It’s not wrong to have “disordered” sex. It’s just not ideal.
            I agree, this is kind of a leap of faith for me too. It takes a bit of doublethink to get it. But it is logically coherent, at least.

          • Lisa

            Sorry to continue picking, but for me, my thought has always been that, if a miracle could happen on non-fertile weeks, then God could also cause my birth control method to fail. (Even abstinence is only 99.9999% effective, right? ;) )

            I agree it’s a bit of a leap to get past that thought. I grew up in a pretty Catholic household, but even my very observant mother made an exception for her BC pills so I guess it’s something I might never get to.

          • Mary Jo TC

            I would never condemn any woman for using BC and I wish the Church would rethink this doctrine. I think upholding this ideal of perfect, unitive + procreative sex has alienated a lot of people, especially childfree and homosexual couples, and it would be better to accept ‘good enough’ sex as any loving, committed sex.
            To continue picking on the ‘miracle’ idea–if God decided to reach in there and make your BC pill fail, that would be kind of a dick move for him, and breaking his own natural laws about biology. But if NFP ‘failed’ by a ‘miracle’ then it could have been because you were wrong about the signs–you were actually fertile and didn’t know it. Instead of magically fertile despite chemicals designed to prevent it. (The doublethink I’m doing here is reminding me of the Outlander theory of time travel for some reason.)
            Is the .000001% failure rate of abstinence the Virgin Mary? Extra Catholic points if so!

          • Lisa

            10,000 points to Gryffindor for the Outlander reference and getting the Virgin Mary joke! (Having never read the Outlander books, I don’t know about the whole of its time travel explanation, but I love the TV show regardless.)

            I appreciate your stance, and you’ve actually done a good job of explaining NFP vs. BC. I still don’t think I could personally get behind only using NFP (the Catholic-sized family is a real concern for me), but I can at least follow the logic you’ve laid out here.

          • Katharine Parker

            For me, the logic breaks down when I know that there are fertility treatments condoned by the Church – why is artificial intervention acceptable to improve the chance of fertility but not to prevent it? I know, it’s about openness to procreation in sex, but it still seems off. It’s all human intervention.

            I am with you on wanting to have control over the number and spacing of pregnancies, beyond NFP, as are most Catholics in America. Leslie Tentler wrote a great history on this, called Catholics and Contraception, where she argues that the Church’s refusal to accept birth control in the face of most Catholics using it has resulted in the replacement of the Church with individual conscience as ultimate moral authority in American Catholic society.

          • Lisa

            I found some interesting information on this by googling Catholic fertility treatments just now. I have actually heard that the church frowns upon a lot of infertility treatments and that couples of have hidden their steps when employed by Catholic institutions.

            That’s fascinating about Tentler’s discourse. It rings true to a lot of what I’ve experienced in talking with other American Catholics. I find it interesting that Americans have found some way to reconcile these two ideas, but a lot of Europeans I’ve met had a take it or leave it stance on the church. If I went to church weekly, I was considered some kind of radical in Spain, which primarily identifies as Catholic though it’s mostly cultural at this point, and our generation is doing that less so. Instead of continuing to attend but choosing to ignore pieces of doctrine that feel contrary, they have disassociated themselves entirely. I wonder how the church feels about that? Which type of congregant would they prefer?

          • Katharine Parker

            IVF isn’t permitted, because it disaggregates sex and procreation, but fertility enhancing drugs are.

            I think this is a real conflict in the Church right now – the bishop where I live definitely only wants people who subscribe to the most conservative interpretations of Catholicism. He banned the hymn “All Are Welcome” from being sung. (It is almost comical, when it isn’t depressing.) I went to Easter mass at a cathedral out of town, and the bishop there gave his homily on how everyone is welcome, especially people who have felt alienated and lapsed in practice, and how the Church is an institution of its people. Pope Francis is encouraging of the latter attitude, and that’s one reason why he’s been controversial for conservative Catholics.

          • Woah, I was coming back to reply to your comment finally, and discover a whole thread on this topic! Makes my little theology-nerd heart happy. :)

            I have heard very right-wing Catholics object to NFP as just another type of birth control, but I think they are (literally!) trying to be more Catholic than the Pope. It is specifically allowed in the Catechism:

            Paragraph 2368 of the CCC says “A particular aspect of this responsibility [of parents] concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood.
            Then paragraph 2370 specifies: “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom.”

            The objection to birth control is twofold: one, it’s intentionally *blocking* procreation. (As Mary Jo points out, sex that is naturally infertile due to age/medical conditions isn’t condemned — in the Bible, there are many holy infertile couples, but Onan in the book of Genesis was punished for “spilling his seed on the ground.”) And secondly, the Church believes that marital sex is supposed to be a free and total self-gift, and that by using artificial birth control, the married partners are intentionally withholding part of themselves (namely, their fertility). Sure, God could reach in and overcome both artificial birth control and FAM, but the likelihood of failure isn’t what makes artificial birth control wrong — it’s that [in the Church’s view] using birth control fundamentally changes what sex means.

            Christopher West and/or John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” has much more on the theology of sexuality if you’re interested (including the part that says that men should be thinking beyond their own climax and try to ensure that their wives orgasm as well, a concept that was much giggled-over when I was first reading this stuff).

            I wish there was a way to do direct messages in Disqus, but there isn’t, right? Well, thanks for the conversation on here anyway…I’ll now return APW to its regularly scheduled topics. ;)

          • heyqueen

            I would love to see a discussion of BC on here under another article. I was on the pill + condoms for 3 years, and I LOVED it. Oh my God it was so bullet proof for not getting pregnant. I got off my pill this year for certain health reasons, and now we use a mix of condoms ALL the time and not having sex when I’m ovulating :( (just to be extra safe). I personally would never suggest anyone use FAM exclusively unless you’re fine with a pregnancy. There’s too much human error.

          • Amy March

            No sex when ovulating? Condoms really do work!

          • heyqueen

            I know! They’ve been A1 since I got off the pill. But a pregnancy would be life ruining right now, so I just like to take extra precaution when I know I have a high chance of getting knocked up. It gives me peace of mind as well. I always side eye people who say their pregnancy was “accidental” because I feel like not getting pregnant is really easy if you do to right. So I have to practice what I preach.

            Which so so sad because ovulation sex is the best.

          • Violet

            Not trying to give advice, but when I went off hormonal BC and we were then down to condoms only (yes, we used condoms when I was on BC too; I think you and I have similar ideas about the level of care needed to avoid pregnancy), I used to keep Plan B on hand, just in case. If condoms fail, it is typically spectacularly obvious, so I rationalized that I’d know if something happened and needed a backup. In nearly a decade we never have, but in case that is helpful to consider.

          • heyqueen

            Hahah yes, I see we’re of similar schools of thought. A friend considered me overzealous for still using condoms with BC, but better safe than sorry. I was extremely worried when we went down to just condoms, but they’ve shown themselves to be effective. I’ve thought about keeping Plan B’s on hand, and I think it’s a smart idea. Thankfully, there’s a 24 hour pharmacy near by that I have access to should I need one. I don’t want to just buy them and have them expire on me, you know?

            I have this irrational fear that if we did have a condom error that it would be tiny and unnoticeable -____-. Hence why we put the kibosh on sex during ovulation.

          • Violet

            Oh okay, 24-hour pharmacy close by is the same thing, then. As long as it’s available! When we originally moved to condoms only we were pretty irrationally afraid as well. Over time, as we got used to using only one method, the fears started to subside. Maybe they will for you too, or maybe you’ll just keep being extra-cautious!

          • emmers

            Not sure if this would be prohibitive for whatever reasons you got off the pill, but I loved my Mirena IUD. The hormones are lower than the pill, and in most studies it’s one of the most effective forms of birth control (something like over 99%), which is one of the reasons I loved it- hassle free reliability.

          • heyqueen

            The IUD is def my next preferred option in birth control. I’m looking into getting one in the next few months. It’s not currently covered by my insurance, and I honestly considered just paying out of pocket for the whole thing. I just haven’t decided between the Skyla and Mirena.

          • emmers

            I’m sorry that you’re not covered for that! My plan covers it I think because of Obamacare, but it sucks that there are still some out there where it doesn’t, since I know it’s a big out of pocket expense. For what it’s worth, when I was making birth control choices, my old college roommate who is now an obgyn recommended them both, but not Paraguard (the nonhormonal), as she said she saw heavier/more painful periods in her patients with that one. She said Skyla is designed for people who haven’t given birth. I think it doesn’t last as long as Mirena though. My insurance only covered Mirena, so that made my decision easier. I’ve never given birth, and Mirena insertion was painful, but not prohibitively so. I took lots of ibuprofen beforehand, and they had me come in during my period. It was painful, but over quick. If you can find a provider who’s used to doing the insertions, that seems like a good idea, too.

            In any case, I hope you can enter IUD life soon! My husband gave it a slight side eye because in the brochure they said that they’re not exactly sure why it works (as he says, “magic” is not comforting for birth control), but we both loved it!

          • heyqueen

            Yeah, the Skyla is for 3 years, and the Mirena for 5. I’m leaning toward the Skyla because I’m nulliparous, but insurance will ultimately dictate what will happen. My mom had the Paraguard twice since she was very anti-hormones. She liked it, but it made her periods 10 days long. I’m already dealing with adjusting to heavier periods since getting off the pill, and I hate it. I have no beef with the hormones. I know many women experience very light or no periods with the Mirena so I definitely look forward to that. But I kind of like having that monthly visual representation of not being pregnant (even though it’s not a “real” period). It’s so funny that your husband side eyed the IUD because my fiance is the same way. Amongst his biggest concerns: “What if I knock it out of place when we’re having sex??” Hilarious.

          • Lisa

            I’ve had Mirena for 2 years now, and I appreciate not having to think about BC on a daily basis. I had originally wanted to do the Skyla, but having gone to a Catholic hospital, they couldn’t prescribe it to me because it doesn’t have any off-label uses for anything (treating heavy periods, etc.). I’ve dealt with really bad cramps on the IUD though they’ve improved from white-hot blinding pain to worst days pre-IUD. I’m also still getting my period on a consistent basis.

            My husband was totally in favor of trying the IUD because it was a semi-permanent form of birth control. We haven’t had any issues with it!

          • heyqueen

            Thanks Lisa! Did you have a lot of spotting/break through bleeding in the first 6 months after insertion?

          • Lisa

            No, they were still “periods,” but they would last 7-14 days the first few months. Without BC, my periods are typically 7 days long, and that’s what they’ve continued to be with the IUD. They’re just significantly lighter now.

          • Lexipedia

            I love my Mirena, hated the Paraguard I had before it. I’m 18 months in with the Mirena and I haven’t had any periods for the last 16 of them!

          • Jess

            HA! I use both condoms and hormonal BC! Even though every time a condom has broken, R has noticed immediately.

            Basically, I just don’t want to be pregnant, so it’s more of a reassurance/relaxation thing for me. I get too worried to actually enjoy it otherwise.

          • heyqueen

            I think people rag on condom sex a lot, but I don’t think it’s that bad. Tbh, it’s not bad at all (for me). Less messy as well. I secretly want to keep using condoms even after I get my IUD, but I have a little guilt about that because I feel like it’s kinda selfish?

          • Jess

            It’s better for me because I’m not stressed out and distracted, which means its better for both of us! Plus there are really fancy condoms these days that make sex great! And the lack-of-mess is a really nice bonus.

            I feel like there’s a lot of room for being selfish with BC methods. If your partner is super against it – like he has a hard time maintain erection with them or reaching orgasm – then I would consider stopping them or using the less-sensitivity-blocking condoms out there.

            Otherwise, I’d personally have a really hard time saying “Your desire to have freer sex trumps my desire to not be pregnant.”

          • tempy13

            I’m sooo with you on this. But what I’ve always found interesting is that the most pushback regarding using condoms + birth control (I’ve used both birth control pills in my teens and early 20’s and the Mirena IUD for the last decade so I’m on my 2nd Mirena, which for me is the best feeling ever!! because as soon as it was in, I had absolutely no periods or any of the atrocious cramps that haunted me my entire life) hasn’t been from men (neither my cis-het male partner[s]) nor my male friends, while having conversations about sex and BC methods. The most eye rolls, and resistance I’ve received is from my women friends. They have all (and my circle of friends have been besties since we were 15 and now we’re in our mid 30’s) relied solely on their BC and never used condoms (I am speaking about my friends that identify as cis-het, so they are women sleeping with men who identify as cis-het so there are possible pregnancy causing penises involved). As our friendships in this friend group have spanned decades, this has been the case whether they have been having sex with men as one night stands, casual dating, LTR and within their marriages. They all seem to act like I’m an evil condom monster, wrenching pleasure away from the the poor helpless men who enter my vagina while cackling wildly. (Hmmm…that would make an awesome supervillain or a fantastically empowering superhero, depending on how one views my stance lol). I never have understand why insisting both parties involved use a method of BC is so controversial?? It’s like being a good host + party guest-everybody brings something to the BBQ that everyone can partake in and enjoy! Has anyone else experienced this? Either from their friends or partners (regardless of where anyone identifies along the gender/sexual orientation/etc spectrum)? I’ve truly always been puzzled by it and would love any thoughts/experiences that anyone else has!

          • Jess

            I love every single one of your analogies. The condom monster! The cackling! The BBQ!

            I haven’t experienced a whole lot of pushback, but I haven’t really talked about it much. I’ve never had a partner say no to a condom, though I’ve just assumed we were going to use one so I never really gave them the chance to say otherwise. Especially in casual encounters.

            I’d be really interested in understand the negative response from women. Is it just that they think it’s overkill? Do they feel like you’re judging them for being unsafe? Do men that they sleep with complain if they ask to use them? I’m confused!

          • anon

            lol, I love the no icky mess! Seriously the worst part about trying to get pregnant -having to deal with the condomless ick.

          • nutbrownrose

            My FH and i are doing BC and condoms until at least the honeymoon, because if one thing has been drilled into both of us, it’s “babies after weddings.” I joke that if I get pregnant now it’s an act of God, and therefore I can’t abort it. Because I’m a paranoid Irish-descendent with 17 cousins, at least 2 of whom were BC whoopsie babies, I haven’t ever tried anything but condoms. I definitely still like sex! And FH has absolutely no problem with them either sexually. My impression is that everything without condoms is much messier and involves a lot more sheet-related laundry than I’m used to.

          • Lisa

            I had a friend who got pregnant in college while on BC and using condoms. What she said was that obviously this was a child who needed to be born! She and her then-fiancé moved up the wedding date to before their daughter’s birth, and that adorable baby is now almost 7 years old.

          • Anon

            It’s interesting, we’re pre-engaged and only engage in non-intercourse sexy stuff after careful discussion with each other about our boundaries and beliefs – but I find that when I theoretically should be ovulating (I plan to use NFP but haven’t started charting yet, just going by calendar estimations) I don’t experience -much- increase in arousal. It’s not as low as post-period but honestly, I’m most easily aroused in the week before my period usually! I wonder if others feel the same way. Also as a comment about fertile-week sex when using FAM/NFP…there’s other kinds of sex other than intercourse (unless you are, for example, a very strict Catholic and have religious beliefs against that). I can attest to how much fun you can have without PIV-sex ;) So you know. You can still play without also using artificial birth control if you so choose.

          • Not catholic

            Currently dating a very strict Catholic. And while I can be on board with abstinence for now, I’m pretty clear that post marriage I require options of sexy times that don’t involve PIV. Do you happen to have any resources that could help him justify this theologically? (I’m finding the pro masturbatuon Christians mostly don’t talk about it.)

          • I replied to your question a little further downthread. :)

        • Alexandra

          Condoms FTW. I took hormonal birth control for years in my pre-Christian days and hated it, which is why I thought FAM was going to be so awesome in marriage.

          I don’t have religious objections to hormonal birth control, but I hated what it did to my moods, my body, everything. Buy some expensive super nice condoms, some expensive super nice lube, can’t hardly even tell the difference. Also, much less messy.

    • ruth

      I have used FAM for the opposite reason – to try to conceive (and also for a while during my single years to track the correlation between a medical symptom I was having to my cycle) – and while I can’t speak for the differences of the Creighton Method vs. Sympto-Thermal – the one piece of feedback I always give to friends wanting to try FAM, from my experience, is that the whole “charting at the same time each day” thing is no joke. That was the roughest part of FAM for me – that if I got up at 6:30 a.m for work, I had to get up at 6:30 a.m on weekends too, otherwise my charts would be wildly off. I tried letting myself sleep in and just fudging the “cover line” on the chart to make up for it – and those charts were basically useless as an ovulation predictor. The only person I know who has not gotten pregnant with FAM (she was doing it to avoid pregnancy like you) was absolutely meticulous about getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends, even on vacation etc… It’s really the only way the method works. Like I said, FAM was never a contraceptive method for me (and I’m a huge fan of condoms, which was what hubby and I used as our main birth control method until we were ready for a bambino) But wish you all the best of luck!

      • heyqueen

        Another huge condom fan here too. I use FAM similarly to how you do. My thought was “if I could figure out exactly what to do to get pregnant, it would help me a lot in knowing how to prevent a pregnancy.” I don’t chart or take my temperature, but I’ve gotten fairly decent at interpreting my cervical mucus and that keying me in (along with the Clue and P Tracker apps) to interpret my unique cycle.

    • We used sympto-thermal to avoid pregnancy for a year. I think Creighton just uses the Clearblue fertility monitor in addition to charting temps/mucus, so it’s additional data but with the extra cost of the Clearblue system. I think the most important thing is to take a class on it, individual if possible. We had four hour-long sessions with a nurse practitioner who explained all the details. She also had a great suggestion — my fiance/now husband was the one who kept all the charts. It made things feel very collaborative w/r/t fertitilty — I provided the data and he tracked it, so we both always knew what was going on!
      As someone who also waited until marriage and then used NFP, I would just say to give yourself a lot of grace as you figure out timing, your respective sex drives, etc. I orignally felt like we should be having sex every day when I wasn’t fertile to “make up for” the periods of abstinence, but that ended up not being the best fit for our relationship and sexuality. It’s hard not to go into marriage with a lot of preconceived ideas about sex when you’ve been hearing about it for so long without experiencing it…but try!!

    • Sparkles

      I don’t know what the Creighton Model is, but I used a variation of the Sympto-Thermal method that ended up being more Sympto than Thermal. It’s called the Justisse Method. There’s an e-book. After reading a few different things about FAM, and trying them out, I found the Justisse Method the easiest. They say you have to buy their kits and meet with a practitioner, which you totally don’t. If you’ve read a few books on the subject and then read their e-book you should be set.

      Taking my BBT just didn’t work great for me. I found it tedious and not super accurate. I’ve definitely tried it, though.

      Another piece of advice, I’d start tracking symptoms at least a year before you plan on starting being intimate with your partner if FAM is going to be your only method of contraception. It takes at least that long to figure out what you’re doing and what your cycles are about.

      FWIW, I’ve tried a few of the apps and always come back to pen and paper for tracking. The apps don’t interpret my symptoms as well as I do, and it’s easier to see what’s going on on paper.

    • happy FAM user

      I used FAM before getting pregnant and between my first and second pregnancies, both planned. I charted for about a year then gave it up because I knew what my pattern was. I have about a 12 day fertility window where we can’t have sex if we’re avoiding. And yeah, if you’re extra horny when ovulating, it’s also a time when oral sex can be particularly fun. My husband finds it intoxicating.

      I think FAM can be reliable enough when a pregnancy wouldn’t be the end of the world. It hasn’t failed me yet, and it only failed my mom when she got pregnant before getting her period back after having me, so postpartum is a time to be extra careful. But I’m all about stacking birth control methods for extra safety. Before we got married, we used FAM, condoms, AND withdrawal. Can’t get much safer than that.

      I recommend Natural Lamb condoms. $3 a pop, totally worth it.

      And I love hearing people talk about abstaining until marriage and about doing “everything but” intercourse. 5 years of my very happy and fulfilling sex life right there.

  • Alexandra

    Absolutely. 100% necessary with a kid and two full time jobs. Some kind of intimate activity, always same time, same place. Sometimes amazing, sometimes meh, looks different depending on the mood/physical availability at the time. Don’t really care one way or the other; no pressure on it, but there’s no way it’s not happening. It’s a sacred place in the schedule. Almost nothing takes priority over it.

    The year we didn’t do this was not good. The last two years have been much better. During our premarital counseling, our pastor told us not to let anything get in the way of sex, and to make sure that no matter how we were feeling about it, we never stopped at least talking about it. This seemed a hilariously unnecessary piece of advice at the time. But things change.

    I had to let go of a lot of assumptions I had about sex to be ok with the scheduling thing. It was easy to feel undesirable etc. Once I got over that it got a lot better. Long term relationship sex year in/year out is just a different animal. For us, anyway. The scheduling ensures that we keep a space that’s just for us. It’s fun, too. We sometimes plan treats for each other. :)

    • stephanie

      “Long term relationship sex year in/year out is just a different animal.” Absolutely this! Long term relationship everything is different, but I totally agree.

  • anon

    Ditto to the writer. When we schedule date nights, touch and talk about it more, it happens more. Scheduling did not/does not work for us (atm). And scheduling time to be close, regardless of what form it takes, seems more important now to me than just making sure we’re regularly ‘getting it on.’

  • Violet

    As one commenter has pointed out, if you’ve ever had sex when living in dorms/with roommates, you are already adjusted to the idea of roughly scheduling sex. Even now that we live alone, we’re somewhere in the middle- we don’t schedule “sex,” per se. But we do schedule together time, which can involve sex. We also know when certain periods are likely to involve sex (times in my cycle that are peak times for having fun, relaxing weekends, etc.) and those that are not (weekends with family, during busy periods at work, etc.). So it’s about making most of the peak times and going easy on ourselves on the not-gonna-happen times.
    Also, dates are all well and good, but neither of us are feeling very in the mood after a big dinner and alcohol. Highly recommend sex first, then going out. Or going for a light dinner, back home for sex, then dessert afterwards.

    • AP

      +1 to all of this. Especially having sex *before* going on a date (or as Dan Savage says, ‘f— first.’) When I was younger I thought sex had to look like the movies (dress up, fancy date, lots of food and wine followed by romantic sex by candlelight), but now I’m so down for all the different ways to have sexy fun. Plus it turns out I have ZERO sex drive on a full stomach after a few glasses of wine, and trying to force it just makes everything tiresome and unsatisfying.

      We don’t really schedule our sex life either, it’s more like you describe. We just do it more often when we have the time and don’t put pressure on us to have it when things are hectic. Some days one of us will send a sexy text or something letting the other one know we’re up for it. We try not to turn each other down too much, and if one of us isn’t feeling it we try to prioritize it the next day.

      • heyqueen

        Yes to sex before a date! I feel like it calms me down lol, but I’ve also been known to request sex again once the date is over and I have a few glasses of wine in me ;)

      • Violet

        Yeah, I’m actually not a huge fan of buzzed sex. It makes me feel a little… distant? or something. And I get a buzz pretty easily, so honestly, I’d rather prioritize the sex by placing it first in the timeline, then enjoy a drink after. So if that’s scheduling, I guess I schedule.

      • Kyla

        It puts me in a good mood and then I’m in a happy mood all date night. And then you can crash in bed afterwards and not feel bad that you didn’t get to sex.

  • Ebloom

    I can totally see how this might work for some couples, but it doesn’t work for us. If sex feels planned I find myself completely uninterested. I’ve tried challenging myself around this, and it’s just not for me. If we’re not feeling up to having sex, we skip sex. I know it sounds unsexy, but sometimes we’ll go a couple weeks without it if we’re too busy, tired, or stressed. Other times we have sex several times per week. But the sex we do have is quality, and really good. We check in about this regularly, and came to the realization that the idea that one needs to have sex several times per week to have a fulfilling relationship is constructed. Again, this might not work for some people, but it works for us. We don’t have kids so maybe this is a factor as well.

  • La’Marisa-Andrea

    I would say 90% of the sex we have at this point is scheduled mainly because we co sleep with our 4 year old. Sex takes more planning. It’s been fine for us. I will also say that scheduling sex doesn’t have to be for some date in the future (like 3 days from now) or consistent like every Monday we do it. We typically decide the day of or the day before we are going to have sex. I consider that to be scheduling sex. So we might say hey, let’s have sex tonight. Or tomorrow night. It actually has worked well for us because I anticipate it and look forward to it and I can get myself ready or in the mood or whatever I need to do so be ready when the time comes. My husband is pretty much ready whenever lol.

    For the record, I also don’t think that sex has to be spontaneous to be good or sexy. I think quality of sex is more important than whether it was spontaneous or not.

    • MC

      Ditto – we don’t schedule it consistently or weeks in advance, but a day or two before, and the anticipation is really helpful for me as I am generally not a very spontaneous person.

  • Anon for this one

    So, we have had to deal with this. We have really, really busy lives and are both just… lazy. Scheduling just doesn’t work. It isn’t sexy. Since we are more like once-a-week people, we alternate weeks where we are responsible for taking the impetus and starting something. It adds some spontaneity that scheduling doesn’t, while also ensuring that we actually get to it. It seems to work for us.

  • Jane Doe

    We tried scheduling twice – first attempting a “have sex daily for 30 days” challenge, and then scheduling when we were trying to conceive. We failed at both, as we both discovered that putting an appt in our calendars to have sex was not sexy. Maybe that will change when we have kids.

    While we don’t schedule, I’ve found that I had to adjust how I thought about sex and timing. I used to be a “sex is a thing that you do at night” thing…until I realized how much our sex life was suffering because we were too tired after work/other commitments to do it at night. We have a lot more morning sex now, or cuddle time on weekend mornings that lead to sex, and that sex is much more fulfilling than waiting until the end of the night and trying to get a quickie in.

    • i want morning sex too!

      I want to know your secret! How do you make morning sex happen? We are always so tired in the morning, the alarm is going off, and husband starts to grope me and he’s ready, but we have to rush to get out the door in time. Setting the alarm earlier means going to bed earlier, which might be ok for me, but he refuses, and I already go to bed 2 hours before he does. It sucks because he sometimes has trouble with his erections, every time of day EXCEPT the morning.

      • Jess

        For us, there’s almost always a rush to get out the door, and a lot of times it’s pretty light on the foreplay (or it’s only some quick foreplay), but honestly? It’s super worth it. Even on the mornings when we have just a little bit and neither of us orgasms, we come home at the end of the day ready for more.

        What has helped for us in terms of timing is to accept spending a little money to just pick up breakfast on the way into work and stocking up on instant oatmeal that we can make at work.

  • lbd

    Ugh. We probably should. We have been hit by the lesbian bed death. Honestly, at this point I’m fine just not doing anything, not even to myself, and I think she’s about the same.
    IDK. This is my first (only) long term relationship. I figure, especially with two women, you eventually stop wanting to sleep with each other as much as you did at first. But I still think she’s beautiful and I still want to be with her 24/7.

    It doesn’t help that after getting my first oral herpes outbreak last year, even if I’m not having an outbreak, my mouth is just itchy most of the time and making out (or doing anything with my mouth to her) gives me itchy burning lips. (The only thing I ever use on my lips now is Blistex medicated ointment. Yes, I have the pills too. The itchiness is just my natural state now.)

    • Hannah B

      Have you tried Lysine supplements?

  • Anon

    We don’t explicitly schedule it, but given the way weeknights work for us (sports practice, work, liking to sleep), we end up usually having sex on weekend mornings or afternoons. By usually I mean “at least one day every weekend, and often both.” I’m a lot more interested when I’m awake, it turns out. And our weekend morning habits have adjusted to account for sexy time: going back to bed after showering, not getting dressed immediately, taking “naps” before going out at night. It works great. For some people a burst of sex at the end of the week isn’t enough, but for us it’s better, more relaxed sex. And there’s no rule against banging on Wednesday night also if we’re awake for it.

    • anon

      Same! As in “Haha wait, did I just write this?” I think of it more as “scheduling to be free for sex” less “scheduling sex”

  • spinning2heads

    Maybe I’m dense, but I don’t see anything non-sexy about scheduling, which is a normal fact of life. I mean, you’ve gotta go to work, do errands, etc. Picture this conversation:
    1: You are so hot I want to do (insert vivid imagery of your favorite thing) to you.
    2: I’m down, but you’ve gotta wait. Sunday?
    1: Ok, I can wait..I guess.
    2: I’ll make it worth your while.(sexy kiss/grab/wink/whatever)

  • Sarah

    I’m really glad this topic came up because it’s something I’ve been wanting/trying to do for a while. But the bit that I don’t get is…like, HOW do you do it? The ‘I’ll be ovulating next week so let’s plan a few nights at home and see what happens’ thing I can do, but ‘it’s been a while, let’s set aside some time this week for sex’ just doesn’t work because often I’m not in the mood at the planned time. And intellectually I get the benefit of having ‘maintenance’ sex even if you aren’t super in the mood, but physically I just don’t understand. Do you use tonnes of lube and grit your teeth? Does everyone have a much bigger vagina than me?

    • spinning2heads

      Why not schedule a make-out session, and be open to possibilities? No need to do anything you’re not feeling, but you’re still making time to physically connect.

    • anona

      For us a lot of sex is just about orgasm- we try to give each person an
      orgasm whenever we are intimate, so if we’re doing p in v then we’d
      almost always follow it with something else, but lots of times it means
      oral (without p in v), or mutual masturbation. We’re very much of the mindset that simultaneous

      orgasm is a rare unicorn, so we’re almost always taking turns as to who gets off first.

  • Julia

    We schedule dates (which I LOVE), and the sort of unspoken assumption is that date night will include some sexy times. Works great for us. I really enjoy knowing that date night is coming up, getting prettied up for it, and getting to look forward to some fun times with my husband.

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  • Leah

    Absolutely schedule, and it’s awesome! Not the exact time, but if it’s more than a day after we’d “expect” to, one or the other of us will ask about whether we can squeeze it in during the next morning or evening. We’re Frequently not totally in the mood when we start, but we’ve always been sure to remind ourselves that that was an Awesome idea once we’ve happily had sex. Never regretted it yet!

  • YES! I can absolutely attest to the fact that it works. We are not married and only in our 20s, but we still do this because we are BUSY and sex is IMPORTANT. We schedule workouts, dinners, and dentists–and none of those are as important as making love.

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