4 facts about sex you must know when trying to get pregnant

When it comes to getting pregnant, misunderstanding and myths abound. How many times have you heard some variation of the following to boost your chances of getting pregnant:

  • Put a pillow under your hips during sex.
  • Cycle your legs in the air after sex.
  • Have the man in the back to better deposit the sperm (“doggy-style”).
  • Save up sperm by having less sex in order to maximize your chances during your fertile time.

So, what’s truth and what is fiction?

1. What Sexual Position is Best for Getting Pregnant?

There is no evidence that any one sexual position is better than another for getting pregnant. According to Dr. Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at Sheffield University, and keynote presenter at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology Conference in Helsinki last week, contrary to popular belief putting a pillow under your hips, or having the male partner enter from behind, or avoiding the missionary position will not increase your odds of getting pregnant. Basically, when it comes to getting pregnant having any sex any way is good.

2. Does Raising Your Legs After Sex Help You Get Pregnant?

While plenty of women trying to conceive stick their legs up the wall after sex or even cycle their legs midair, no evidence supports this practice. Studies have shown it takes about 10 minutes for sperm to reach the egg in the fallopian tubes regardless of what a woman does with her legs after sex. According to Dr. Pacey in his ESHRE keynote, “By the time you’ve had a cuddle, recovered your breath, and you’ve got out of bed, the [sperm] that are going to fertilize the egg, are in there already. … Lying down after sex, yes I can see that, but no more than five minutes.”

3. Does Having an Orgasm Increase the Chances of Getting Pregnant?

Why yes it does! But maybe not for the reasons you think. Studies have shown that women who have orgasms get pregnant more often. People think that the contractions that happen to a woman during an orgasm draw the sperm towards the egg; however, a closer look at those studies indicates that the reason orgasmic women got pregnant more often is because they had sex more often. Pretty simple, right? We do more of what we enjoy.

4. How Often Should You Have Sex to Increase the Odds of Conceiving?

We all know that the timing of sex is important—you need to be having sex during the women’s fertile frequency of sex to increase the odds of pregnancyperiod in her cycle (ovulation) in order to get pregnant. But how often during that fertile time should you be having sex?

Past studies have indicated that daily sex (or ejaculation) for seven days prior to ovulation or fertility treatment (IUI or IVF) improved sperm motility and decreased sperm DNA fragmentation. Researchers believe this may be because the sperm had a shorter exposure in the testicular ducts and epididymis to reactive oxygen species/free radicals.

Recent research now indicates that even more frequent sex or ejaculation is better. Having sex two times within an hour can make men three times more fertile.

British scientists looked at 73 couples using Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), where the sperm in placed directly into the uterus. The typical pregnancy rate for IUIs is about 6%. In this study, sub-fertile men where asked to produce two sperm samples within an hour to be used with the IUI fertility procedure. When the second semen sample was used, the pregnancy rate jumped to 20 %. There is no reason to think that these results would also be applicable to those conceiving naturally.

Bottom Line

According to recent research presented at the ESHRE fertility conference: “If you want to get pregnant, have lots sex – as much as you want, however you want – and enjoy it.” 

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Image credit: Pandas (Tim Lenz); Cartoon (The Sydney Morning Herald)