Fertility is gender ambivalent—yet so often it’s a burden that falls on the shoulders of cis-het women in couples, even when male fertility makes up half of the problem… and even when it comes to fitting baby-making sex around busy schedules. Lauren Berson, CEO and founder of the digital fertility company Conceive, opens up about the unexpected stress of timed intercourse.
The unexpected stress of timed intercourse
"When I was going through my fertility journey, my husband was a constant source of support—he was there with me for every appointment, pregnancy test, every hope, and every hope dashed. Of course he was, we were in it together.
But yet, there was so much about trying to conceive that weighed on my shoulders, physiologically, psychologically, and—perhaps most crucially—logistically. The infrastructure of the infertility journey still treats it as a "women’s" health issue– even when it affects all genders at equal rates. On top of most appointments being centered on poking and prodding me, there is this self-blame that takes over the one who is meant to carry the baby. We resort to obsessing over what to eat (and what not to), how to exercise (or not), if we’re getting enough sleep—and feeling both like we’re taking too many and not enough supplements all at once. It’s pretty much endless.
The mental load of trying to conceive
Society also likes to make us responsible for timing and scheduling the intercourse that goes with baby-making. After all, the ovulation tracker apps are created for the people who are ovulating. So, where before foreplay was romantic dinners and candlelight, it soon becomes a glance at your fertility tracker and a Google calendar invite titled “OVULATING”. Fertility tracking just somehow became my responsibility.
And it’s no wonder: it’s a societal pressure that feels insidiously gendered. The trope of Monica chasing down Chandler when it was time for some baby-making sex was one seen well beyond the scenes ofFriends. Meanwhile, the fertility trackers that tell you when to have sex are only targeted at women and the fertility issues that women might have (just take a look at the language and graphics). And you only have to look at Google data to see that women are so often the ones searching for fertility issues—even search terms like “male fertility supplements”.
Add to this that at the time we were trying to conceive my (now beautiful 3yo) daughter, we lived on different ends of the country. He was constantly flying back and forth from NYC to San Francisco, while my job kept me mostly in San Francisco, aside from monthly trips for work. As much as we found the conceiving part of trying to conceive the most fun, we were like ships in the night. It was impossible to coordinate our work schedules with my body clock and it was starting to feel like half of my “unexplained” infertility could be attributed to flight schedules.
Using Mosie Baby to reduce to mental stress of timed conception
If only I’d known there was another way. When I was first trying six years ago, sophisticated at-home insemination kits like Mosie Baby didn’t exist. Or if they did, they felt like they were only for people who were struggling physically to have intercourse—or couldn’t due to their circumstances. They didn’t feel like they were for me. But the truth is, Mosie Baby is perfect for people who can’t seem to be in the same place at the same time for very long. We missed fertile windows due to early morning cab rides to the airport or cross-country red eyes. But with a high quality at-home insemination kit, my husband could have left a sample for me on his way out the door to his crack-of-dawn flight and it would have been one less conception opportunity missed, as long as I used it within the hour (Mosie Baby recommends using your semen sample within an hour of deposit).
I don’t think I realized how stressed I really was trying to coordinate intercourse—and that looking after my mental health while trying to conceive was as important as taking care of my physical health. But recognizing the mental load of trying to conceive is something that brought me to where I am today: the founder and CEO of Conceive, the first digital fertility company focused on changing outcomes: increasing pregnancies, reducing costs, uncovering diagnoses, and reducing stress. Our mission is to get members pregnant as quickly as possible, while reducing their fertility costs and minimizing their stress. We help them understand if they can get pregnant, then we do everything in our power to get them there. To do this, we give members the tools they need to figure out what could be standing in their way and empower them with evidence-based advice from experts, plus peer groups and on-call coaching support. At the heart of this is supporting our members with their mental health. Part of that is making the process of trying to conceive—which can be so fraught with logistics and emotions—that much easier.
Finding support and solutions for easing the stress of trying to conceive
Much like how we’re supposed to raise children, it takes a village to conceive a child—or it should. I soon realized that, as much as I love my husband and he was my copilot in my fertility journey, I needed more—more support, more people who got it, more people I could confide in, more solutions for easing the toll trying to conceive can take. When it comes to equality in parenting, the first step has to be equality in conception."