What About Sex?

Okay, so you want to get pregnant–you just need to have a lot of sex, right? The correct answer is “Maybe…”

Before you panic, take this little quiz to test your current knowledge about frequency of sex for conception:

Questions

  • Women get pregnant when they have sex right after their menstrual periods. (True or False?)
  • Once you know when the woman is most fertile, you have to have sex about twice a day to make sure you get enough sperm in there. (True or False?)
  • A man should hold off on ejaculating for the entire month until the woman’s fertile period, so that he has a lot of sperm built up. (True or False?)

Answers

Well, no, not really. First, it depends on whether the woman has what are considered “typically normal” menstrual cycles–cycles that are 28 days in length, counted from the first day of menstruation (Cycle Day 1) to the last day before her next period. If she does have a normal cycle (and many, many women do not, even those who consider themselves “regular”), then typically her most fertile time is around cycle days 12 through 16. So unless her menstrual period is around two weeks in length (which it probably is not), then the answer to the question is “FALSE.”

Next question, please…

Hold on there, cowboy! While the “More is Better” frame of mind can take over easily here, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to sperm production. A man’s body needs some time to refresh his sperm supply–and semen without sperm in it is useless when it comes to reproduction. While some experts say once a day is just fine, still others recommend that a man ejaculate no more than every 36 hours when conception is the goal. Otherwise, you risk a lowered sperm count, and possibly, decreased fertility. The answer here is “FALSE.”

Next question, please…

Well, that’s a little drastic! In fact, if you wait for a week or longer before finally ejaculating, you may be delivering poor quality sperm. In a man with a fully-functioning reproductive system, new sperm are always being produced, and in general, his supply is completely refreshed anew in about three months. For the best efforts at conception, the newer the sperm, the better. The answer to this question is “FALSE.”

Sexual Positions for Conception

Alrighty–we’re gonna get pregnant, and we’re gonna “do it” in every conceivable position, in every room of the house!

Does sexual position really matter when it comes to conception? The best answer is “Sometimes…”

First, let’s get your goal here straight

In order for conception to occur, sperm must be deposited as close as possible to the woman’s cervix. That’s what sexual intercourse is for–when it comes to getting pregnant, anyway!

In general, when a man and woman are trying to conceive (TTC), if they’re both “typically” fertile and reproductively “normal,” then the position in which they engage sexually probably won’t matter much.

If, on the other hand, one or both of the sexual partners has something reproductively amiss, the importance of sexual intercourse position increases. The level of importance varies with whatever problem exists. The real problem, of course, is that most people have no idea that they have a reproductive problem until they’re already having trouble conceiving… Okay, let’s assume both partners are reproductively normal. Proceed!

Give gravity an edge.

It’s true — getting pregnant might be all about gravity. While strong, healthy sperm are usually great swimmers against almost all odds, some of the little guys need a little more assistance.

Choose a position that makes common sense as you remember your goal of depositing sperm as close to the cervix as possible.

Some sexual positions that are not conducive to conception are

  • Sitting
  • Standing
  • Female dominant (woman on top)
  • Bending over

Although achieving pregnancy is not impossible using these positions, they do not encourage the flow of sperm into the uterus and, ultimately, the fallopian tubes (Lauersen and Bouchez, p. 202).

Lie down!

Never hurts to head sperm in the right direction after they’ve been left at the cervical doorway. No need to stand on your head, ladies, but lying down for 20 or 30 minutes afterward can’t hurt and might help. In general, however, healthy sperm in a healthy female reproductive tract will reach their target within a few minutes.

Roll over!

Now, if you already know or suspect that you have a uterus that is positioned differently than most (not a completely unheard of condition!), then it may be better if you lie prone (on your stomach) after intercourse. Again, whatever direction the sperm need to head, give them a little gravitational edge.

How to Have Baby-Making Sex

If getting pregnant hasn’t been so easy for you, maybe you’re not doing “it” right. Maximize your chances!

Here’s how:

  1. Stop using hormonal contraception or have IUD removed at least 3 months prior to conception attempts.
  2. Make sure you have intercourse during the woman’s most fertile time.
  3. Men should refrain from unproductive ejaculation for 48 hours prior to the woman’s fertile time.
  4. If possible, schedule your conception attempts for the morning, as sperm concentration may be higher then.
  5. It is best to avoid artificial lubrication, but if it’s necessary, use only water-based ones. Water-based are the same lubricants that are marketed as condom-safe.
  6. Avoid douching at any time.
  7. Use sexual positions that encourage the natural tilt of the vagina toward the uterine opening (cervix) and that assist gravity, for example, missionary or doggy style positions, or lying on one’s side.
  8. Avoid cunnilingus (oral sex given to the female) during conception attempts.
  9. Avoid anal sex during conception attempts.
  10. Avoid underwater sex and hot tubs in general during conception attempts.
  11. Avoid sex toys during conception attempts.
  12. After ejaculation, the man should remain inside the woman for several minutes and withdraw carefully.
  13. After ejaculation, the woman should remain lying down for twenty minutes or more, and may also elevate hips and legs with a wall or pillows.

Tips:

  1. Include satisfying foreplay to keep things interesting and assist with lubrication.
  2. Allow time in your lives for spontaneous, non-productive sexual relations during less fertile times.
  3. Seek relationship counseling through your doctor’s office if sexual dysfunction of any kind becomes a factor.

More Sex Talk for Conception

You’ve polished up your knowledge on sexual frequency and positions to enhance conception–now let’s look at a few more details!

Oral Sex

If you enjoy it, then it shouldn’t be a problem. The only possible exception is if certain bacteria are present in the “giver’s” saliva, bacteria that may either (a) carry infection, or (b) degrade the constitution of semen. As with other reproductive health issues, the real problem here is that most folks don’t know if such bacteria exists in their saliva. We’ll leave you with that vague answer to assist in your decision-making…

Anal Sex

Again, shouldn’t be a problem with one very important caveat: the man must wash his penis after engaging in anal sex and before inserting into the vagina, otherwise, the risk of bacterial transmission from anus to vagina is very high, which may actually be catastrophic to a newly-fertilized egg.

Lubricants

This can be a tricky question, since a lot of folks increase their sexual activity when trying to conceive (TTC). The increased activity can sometimes lead to increased friction, which in turn calls for lubrication assistance at times.

The optimal situation for conception is to avoid artificial lubrication. There is some concern about such lubricants’ effects on sperm motility (movement) and even on the sperm’s life. If, however, sexual intercourse cannot proceed without additional lubrication, then it is strongly recommended that couples avoid oil-based formulas. Any product that is safe to use with condoms is water-based, and therefore, will be safer to use when TTC.

Water Sports

We’re just talking about sexual intercourse occurring in water here… nothing too kinky! In general, it’s best to avoid such activity when TTC, for several reasons:

  • the possibility of unknown bacteria living in the water which can increase chances of infection;
  • the presence of chlorine may negatively affect the naturally-optimal pH environment for sperm within the vaginal canal;
  • high water temperature (in the case of hot tubs) can hamper a man’s sperm production, and possibly, a woman’s egg quality.

The Toy Box

As with some of the above, the rule here is “keep it clean” –your vibrator, that is… Sex toys which are inserted into the vagina must be regularly and thoroughly washed, and it’s best to avoid using toys that are used by anyone else. Penile rings, clips, and other similar devices should be avoided because of the possible trauma to the scrotum or testicles.

How About the Big O?

First, you’ll learn that around here, the “Big O” refers to ovulation! But since we’re still talking sex… There are some who think that the order in which a couple orgasms during a sexual encounter can impact the gender of any resulting offspring. Sorry, but the jury is still out on that one, particularly since there are methods being developed which can lead to gender selection through assisted reproductive technology. However, it is believed that as a woman orgasms, the contractions of her reproductive system may draw the sperm further toward the cervix and into the uterus, enhancing conception.