September 22, 2021 | By: Steph Kagan, MSN, WHNP-BC
During our TTC (trying to conceive) journey it is common to research anything and everything that can help us improve our chances of conception, this includes how and when to have sex. As if you don’t already have enough on your plate, we are now being presented with information that can impact our intimate relationship with our partner.
Sex Positions to Conceive a Girl or Boy
There is no studied evidence that position can influence sperm selection, as they can be found within two minutes in the fallopian tubes in abundance. There is evidence that the weight of the sperm can vary based on the chromosomes, however not significantly enough that body positioning can impact the travel time or path of individual sperm.
Orgasm and Conception Chances
There is a common misconception in regards to the importance of the female having an orgasm and conception. Female orgasm may promote sperm transport, but no relationship has been shown to increase conception. When a female has an orgasm, hormones are released, and the uterus -- which is a muscle -- can contract. The contraction can help move sperm; however, even without contraction, sperm are present in the fallopian tubes in the same amount of time.
In regards to orgasm in the male partner, it is important to understand that male orgasm and ejaculation are two separate physiological processes, both neurologically and physically. The priority is on ejaculation, which will transport sperm regardless of orgasm. Obviously, communication with your partner as to what can help them have the most enjoyable sex is suggested.
Putting Legs Up to Help Get Pregnant
During your TTC journey you have likely heard to “prop a pillow under your hips”, or to “put your legs up in the air/against the wall” to help improve chances of pregnancy. The myth is that it can improve sperm transport or prevent leakage, but unfortunately this process has no scientific evidence of improving pregnancy rates. Ejaculate contains multiple “parts;” some of this is seminal fluid, which is actually not designed to be instilled into the uterus and SHOULD leak out. Despite scientific evidence, it is fair to rest for 2-5 minutes after intercourse to ensure the sperm themselves have passed through the cervical opening. Here is some data to support this:
- Sperm deposited at the cervix midcycle are found in the fallopian tubes within 15 minutes
- Studies show that it takes as little as two minutes at minimum for travel, but within seconds sperm have entered the cervical opening.
Some couples want or need to use lubricants for a variety of personal reasons. When you are trying to conceive, it is important to pay attention to the type of lubricant. Certain lubricants, such as KY Jelly, Astroglide, Touch, Replens, olive oil, saliva, KY Sensitive, KY Warming, and KY Tingling can inhibit sperm motility, meaning making it more difficult for them to swim. The data shows that these lubricants can decrease motility by 60 to 100%. Safe options for lubricants that have NO impact on motility include Preseed, canola oil and mineral oil.
How Often You Should Have Sex
This is the most debated topic in many TTC groups. In an analysis of sperm samples, highest quality sperm is present after 3 days; however, this is too far apart during the fertile window to optimize the chance of pregnancy. There is mixed data in regards to intercourse everyday vs. every other day. Ultimately, every other day CAN increase sperm concentration, morphology and motility. The best option therefore is to use a combination of both methodologies, and this is where the Premom and ovulation predictor kits (opks) can come in handy! Here is the break down:
- Use your Premom ovulation strips to track your luteinizing hormone (LH) to find your ovulation and peak fertility.
- Starting at the beginning of your fertile window, start having intercourse EVERY OTHER DAY.
- Always time intercourse the day of your LH peak and the following (ovulation day), bonus points for the day after that. This does put 3 days back to back at max, which allows both methods to work in your favor and increase your chance of pregnancy.
The stress associated with trying to conceive can reduce sexual esteem, satisfaction, and the frequency of intercourse. These factors can also be made worse when trying to adhere to a strict schedule -- which is why it is important to know that both everyday and every other day are successful options. If you miss a day, or work gets in the way of a day that “should have” happened, it is going to be okay!
Communication is key! Talk to your partner about your sexual wants and needs to help promote and ensure a healthy sexual relationship on your TTC journey. Men can have a difficult time managing the pressure to perform, and some couples will choose not to share data like “I am ovulating today,” in order to reduce stress for the male partner. Sit down and have an upfront, sometimes funny, conversation to make sure you and your partner are a team and on the same page!
Jurema MW, Vieira AD, Bankowski B, Petrella C, Zhao Y, Wallach E, Zacur H. Effect of ejaculatory abstinence period on the pregnancy rate after intrauterine insemination.. Fertil Steril. 2005;84(3):678.
Optimizing Natural Fertility: A Committee Opinion. Practice Committee of American Society for Reproductive Medicine in collaboration with Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Fertil Steril. 2013;100(3):631.