Sometimes, I like to browse through some of the online fertility forums just to see what new tips and tricks women are swearing by as surefire ways to get pregnant (Note: this is work-related browsing; I’m not trying to get pregnant myself). The one thing I’ve learned from doing this is that just about everyone and their mother has a different opinion on what you MUST do if you want to get pregnant ASAP, and often, these opinions are at odds with each other (Have sex every day! No, have sex every other day! No, have sex only in the 3 days before ovulation! Etc.).
Our goal here at Kindara is to help women feel calm about their fertility, not frazzled and freaked out that they’re doing something wrong. So I took it upon myself to delve into some of the more common claims about sex and getting pregnant, and have found the answers to these questions based on actual research and doctors’ opinions, rather than what someone’s mom told her back in the day. So in no particular order, here they are:
1. Does having an orgasm increase my chances of getting pregnant?
In the early 1900’s, doctors recommended orgasm as a treatment for infertility, claiming that the vaginal contractions caused by orgasm would suck the semen up through the cervix and deliver it quickly to the egg. Though there is evidence that this is true for certain animals (pigs, for instance), a more recent study done on human females demonstrated no evidence that orgasm caused semen to be sucked up into the uterus any faster than it would be normally. On the other hand, another study found that women who have orgasms during intercourse retained more sperm in the vagina than both those who didn’t orgasm and those who had an orgasm before their partner - and retaining sperm in the vagina for 15-30 minutes after intercourse may be associated with higher rates of fertilization. So in all, it's unclear whether having an orgasm affects your ability to get pregnant - but it certainly can't hurt!
2. Do I need to be sexually aroused to get pregnant?
Well, you don’t need to be aroused in order for pregnancy to be possible (though you’ll certainly have a much better time if you are) - but being aroused can increase your chances of getting pregnant. A woman’s natural arousal fluids work to dissolve the protective coating around each sperm, which allows them to move more freely, helping them to reach the egg.
3. Will lubricants help me to get pregnant?
Research shows that your typical lubricants (Astroglide, K-Y, etc) seem to impair sperm motility if used on or around the vagina prior to intercourse. So don’t go with the usual store-bought varieties. However, there are lubricants that are specifically designed for couples who are trying to conceive. Lubricants such as Pre-seed create a pH that is friendly to sperm. ToConceive (recommended by Kindara) goes even further in that it stimulates a woman’s natural arousal fluid, which, as I mentioned above, can help sperm to meet and fertilize the egg.
4. Should I avoid oral sex while trying to get pregnant?
Unfortunately, the same study done on the lubricants listed above also found that saliva can inhibit sperm motility. So yes, if you’re trying to get pregnant, avoid oral sex prior to intercourse. This goes for both partners. I know, bummer.
5. Does holding my legs in the air or doing a headstand after sex increase my chances of getting pregnant?
While it seems logical that holding your legs in the air or doing a headstand would help the sperm to move towards the cervix, there is no solid evidence to support this claim. If fertile cervical fluid is present, sperm will be able to swim up it. However, like I said earlier, evidence suggests that keeping sperm in the vagina for at least 15 minutes after sex may increase your chances of getting pregnant - so while there’s no need to do a headstand, you may want to hang out on your back with a pillow under your hips for a bit after having sex.
6. Are some sexual positions more conducive to getting pregnant than others?
It’s possible to get pregnant from having sex in any position - but again, because data suggests that keeping sperm in the vagina for at least 15 minutes after sex may increase your chances of getting pregnant, many fertility specialists recommend against gravity-defying positions such as sitting, standing, or woman-on-top.
7. Will having sex every day increase my chances of getting pregnant?
If you’re outside of the fertile window, it doesn’t matter how much you have sex - you can’t get pregnant unless you have sex around the time of ovulation. During the fertile window, studies indicate that your chances of getting pregnant are about the same if you have sex every other day vs. every day. Data suggests that semen quality is at its prime if a man holds off for two or three days between ejaculations - so if your male partner has sub-optimal sperm quality, you may want to space intercourse out a little bit. But if not, and you want to have sex every day, go for it!
Did I miss anything? What claims have you heard about sex and getting pregnant?