Cycle syncing your sex life: Post-ovulation sex (Part 2)
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
This post is Part 2 of 3 of the "Cycle syncing your sex life" series. For an introduction to this series, start here.
Post-Ovulation Sex, aka the Luteal Phase
Begins: right after you've ovulated / Ends: when your period starts
The hormone changes during this phase - specifically a rise in her progesterone - naturally decrease a woman’s interest in sex. If she has PMS symptoms, elevated emotions (incl. anxiety, fatigue, and lower self-esteem) and bodily changes (incl. bloating and acne breakouts) can also make her feel less desirable. Despite these things, good sex can still happen.
My experience – the challenges:
A woman’s emotional and bodily changes can make sex feel difficult during this time, and honestly this phase is the main reason I have written this series!
My PMS symptoms make things especially difficult during this phase. I am irritable and a little manic in my actions. My moody behavior makes me feel less desirable (“how could my husband love me when I’m acting this way??”). I feel less beautiful due to my acne/chin hair outbreaks, bloating, gassiness, etc… I want to have sex with my husband during this phase, because I want to share love with him, but my sex drive is lower and I’m not feeling naturally amorous like I was the week before.
I remember being a newlywed and nodding along with Simcha Fischer’s The Sinner’s Guide to NFP , especially when she astutely asks, “But what about the woman?” In other words, it doesn’t quite seem fair that – especially if a couple is avoiding a pregnancy - the woman is asked to avoid sex when she will most enjoy it and then gets “stuck with” post-ovulation sex.
Here’s the hidden benefit Simcha has found, and what I will share too: In this phase, husbands get to bring back their “romancing” side. You know, that side that came out strong when you first dated but maybe has faded over time.
What I’ve learned:
1. Romancing: full length books can, and have been, written about romancing so I’ll keep this more brief. Ultimately romancing is part of an extended foreplay, i.e. non-sexual actions that help enhance the sex later. (Yes, couples should be gifting acts of love to one another all the days, but due to the cocktail of hormones I’m processing in this phase of my cycle, I try to gently remind my husband I could use some extra TLC right now.) We learned about the “5 love languages” early on and try to remember to incorporate them in our actions toward one another. Because I most appreciate “words of affirmation” and “quality time,” it helps me a great deal if my husband takes the time to attentively talk with me about my day.
2. Foreplay is necessary: Subtle foreplay can begin with the way I dress that day. I try to do things to help me feel more beautiful; this includes being intentional about taking a relaxing shower, and actually blow drying my hair. I wear the perfume my husband likes and cover up my acne with makeup (for myself). I sometimes even put on some lacy underwear at the start of the day, so my brain is all day reminded of our upcoming marital union.
It helps me immensely if we spend time skin-to-skin cuddling beforehand - maybe fully clothed while watching a show or maybe cuddling naked in bed together.
When it is officially "business time" (this Flight of the Conchords song delights my husband) I encourage a longer amount of sexual foreplay (much more than the fertile week). It is more challenging for women to get aroused during this phase, so we try to start with things that can help get me in the mood: e.g. a back massage, passionate kissing, playing sensual music.
3. Lubrication is necessary: Women also feel “dry” in their vaginal area during this phase, as natural lubrication from cervical mucous is now gone. As newlyweds, we relied heavily on artificial lubrication for both manual stimulation and penetration, especially in this phase. As we grew more comfortable with it, oral stimulation has become more common and works exceptionally well at getting me both aroused and lubricated. I’ve found I don’t like just jumping straight into oral sex, so I encourage those “easy” sexual foreplay things like massage and kiss first. Orally stimulating my husband also provides more natural lubrication for his penis (and brings him extra delight). We kind of got over keeping up with artificial lube, so we discovered it worked almost as well if my husband lubricated his fingers with saliva before manually stimulating me. (This might sound weird at first, but then you remember saliva is very much a part of intimacy, starting with kissing.)
4. Intercourse takes some extra work (but is doable!). During this “luteal” phase, research shows that women’s bodies generally prefer shallow/gentle penile thrusts and a shorter penetration time. My husband finds it difficult to climax in a shorter amount of time with slow/shallow penetration.
A few solutions we’ve found:
a) It helps if I am fully aroused before penetration. Not to oversell oral sex, but if one or both of us has been orally stimulated before penetration it does help him reach his climax inside me faster.
b) Sometimes – if we’re hitting a plateau - we take a break from vaginal penetration and re-focus on oral stimulation to re-establish his erection.
c) We’ve experimented with various positions. The “experts” recommend a side-by-side (“spooning”) position for shallow penetration, but that position rarely works well for us. Sometimes we can get a scissors-like position to work better. If I am in an “on top” position, it helps me keep things more slowed down until I can build up more arousal/lubrication. He’s more likely to climax when he is on top, so if we’re in that position I try to give verbal cues to “slow down” when needed.
d) Once we find a position that works, we try not to change it up. We can’t really afford to lose momentum when we’re in luteal phase sex.
5. A note on the female orgasm: women will probably find it more difficult to climax during this phase (I do at least!). It is still worth trying, but try not to get frustrated if it’s just not working at the moment. You still shared a beautiful moment of intimacy together.
6. I conclude with the best news: you can still have “fertile”-like sex during this phase!
I’m always surprised to discover that I suddenly have an increased sex drive just before my period returns. I’m not sure I fully connected the dots that this happened every month, until I was reading research that indicated this “end of cycle sex boost” happens to most women. It’s been exciting to realize we can experience sex that feels easier, especially after a week of more challenging sex moments.
To be continued...
 Footnote with an extra personal note: I know PMS isn’t “normal,” but the only way around it for me is to cut out sugars and processed carbs. (I have a form of PCOS.) I tried to do this, especially during my infertility journey. It helped; my acne and facial hair growth were miraculously tamed! It also made me fairly miserable to eat so strictly… It’s all an ongoing struggle for me!