Using fertility awareness-based methods to naturally avoid pregnancy has some amazing benefits, including a 99.6% efficacy rate if you follow the Symptothermal Method rules for avoiding pregnancy to the letter (1). The catch is that you might feel more amorous exactly when you’re not able to fulfill those desires — call it nature’s way of encouraging procreation (2). Aside from engaging in sexual activities that don’t involve vaginal intercourse (like using hands or oral for stimulation, dry humping, etc.) or using a barrier method (which might be a little scary since you’re in the fertile window and condoms are only 87% effective with typical use) (3), what else can you and your partner do to be intimate?
Here are a few ways to be intimate during your fertile window if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy. These tips are also great in general or if you can’t have penetrative sex for other reasons, like yeast infections, urinary tract infections, or a variety of other times your vagina might be closed for business.
You don’t always have to be naked to have fun getting sweaty! Studies show that physical activity together can be super stimulating in all the best ways: it increases happiness in the relationship, improves workout efficiency, helps achieve fitness goals, increases your emotional bond, and could even make your partner fall in love with you (4).
One great way to get physical as a couple is to dance together. Get dressed up and go out to a club if that’s your scene, or you can even dance in the comfort and privacy of your own home. If either or both of you don’t know how to dance but want to learn, check out dance classes in your area so you can be physically close while learning something new together. We recommend salsa or tango for some extra sizzle! (Side note: be sure to check that you won’t have to switch partners during class or that will defeat the purpose!)
If someone is not into dancing, try another form of exercise together like jogging, biking, tennis, or yoga. Studies show that participating in physical activity together results in couples feeling more satisfied and in love in their relationships (4). As an added bonus, it’ll give you and your partner an excuse to admire each other in workout clothes.
This one might seem a little out of place since we’re talking mostly about physical closeness, but emotional conversations are among the times people feel closest (5). If you’ve been together for a long time or are just plain busy, you and your partner might not have those deep, meaningful conversations that may have happened organically when you first started dating. Especially in this digital age where we are always texting and are more likely to look at our phones than our neighbors, a good balance of eye contact is irreplaceable. As an added bonus, it may also improve performance on a variety of cognitive tasks and facilitate social interaction (6). For example, eye contact signals your intent to include the other person (6) and makes you more likely to be seen as credible, mature, and attractive (7).
Topics of discussion are highly individual, so we won’t go into too much detail, but if you want to keep the subject matter intimate, talk about what you each like for the other to do when you can be sexually intimate. You can also describe new things to try or fantasies that you might want to play out together. Not only will this keep you engaged with each other, but it may give you both great ideas for when you’re ready for sex again. Open communication is super important for a healthy sexual relationship and may pave the way for a better experience in the bedroom (8).
Massage provides many perks, including reduction of stress, pain, and muscle tension (9). When couples massage each other, they may enjoy the same benefits plus improved well-being, coping, and relationship stability. The best part is, both partners benefit equally from massage whether they are giving or receiving (10) — everybody wins!
Building on the above communication theme, giving each other massages is the perfect opportunity to open up communication in a new way. If you’re giving a massage, check in with your partner to ask how they are doing and if the pressure is acceptable. If you’re receiving a massage, don’t wait to be asked; let your partner know right away if something is painful or doesn’t feel right. If you’re really enjoying it, express that too so they know to keep doing what they’re doing.
Massage is generally safe except in certain circumstances. A conversation with your doctor about massage may be in order if you’re taking certain medications, like blood thinners, or if you have bleeding disorders, wounds, unexplained pain (9), or existing back or neck issues (11). This probably won’t apply if you’re reading this post, but one more caution just in case — even though studies do not support the common belief that pressure in a massage or acupressure may induce labor (12), professionals may still turn away expecting mothers, so you may want to ask your doctor if at-home massages are right for you if you’re expecting.
We definitely recommend taking classes or receiving private instruction from a licensed professional on this one. If performed improperly, body work could result in serious injury to either party, especially if someone in your relationship has a smaller frame (11) or if too much pressure is used (9). A licensed professional will be able to instruct you on how to stay safe whether you’re giving or receiving a massage.
Whether you’re just coming out of that new-relationship honeymoon phase or you’ve been together for years, you might be settling into a routine. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, routines may actually be positive because they can increase intimacy, but they can also lead to taking each other for granted (5). One way to avoid this is by setting aside dedicated time to reconnect and strengthen your friendship, which is crucial for nurturing your relationship (13). A great way to do this is starting a date night tradition to carve out one-on-one time together.
But even dates can get stale if you always end up doing the same activity or going to the same restaurant every time and end up back in a routine. Keep in mind these 2 important ingredients for making your date night nourishing: be present during your time together (13), and choose activities that are new and exciting (14).
The point of date night is to be together. It’s about making time for and prioritizing each other in the busyness of our modern lives with work, family, school, and all the other obligations and distractions — including your cell phones. Time is precious, and spending it together is one of the important ways we show love (13). With that in mind, you might not even have to leave home to have a meaningful date night. Especially if you’re on a budget, try simply unplugging from electronics (cellphone, TV, tablets, and other distraction devices) for a few hours to play a board game or do a puzzle together.
If you do want to go out, engaging in new and exciting activities together may stave off boredom, bring you closer together, and increase happiness in the relationship and satisfaction with life in general (14). The good news is that it doesn’t have to be dangerous or expensive. Depending on your current habits, it could be as simple as trying a new cuisine. Acting like a tourist and exploring nearby areas that you’ve never visited previously can be fun as well. The point is to feel like a team as you learn or experience something new. If you like cooperative games, try an escape room or trivia night in your area.
An important note is that we keep saying date night, but really, dates can happen at any hour — get creative and figure out what feels good for you and your partner.
The options for staying intimate when you’re in the fertile window and trying to avoid pregnancy are endless! As the saying goes: Different folks, different strokes. In other words, regardless of what charges your batteries, you can have fun and be intimate without sex. Explore different methods of staying connected and have adventures together!
About the Artist
The artwork for this blog was provided by Juliet Gilden, an artist from Baltimore, MD, whose free-form style reinterprets reality on her own loose terms, showing the world she sees as sunny, funny, and optimistic. Her subjects include women at their most vulnerable and powerful, animals (both domestic and wild), astrology, and social justice.
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