I’m going to presume you pretty much have a handle on how to have sex. If you’re looking for inspiration, however, I did write a book on this subject. It’s called Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido and you can buy it online or pick up a copy in our center.
But today I’d like to answer a question that my patients often ask, “Is there a right way to have sex if I’m trying to get pregnant?” This was a subject Dr. David and I tackled very thoroughly in our book Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility. So for a deeper discussion of this subject (and a lot more helpful fertility advice) it’s worth picking up a copy and giving it a read.
What follows, though, are the things you really should know about sex if you’re hoping to conceive.
Don’t Forget Foreplay
Often if you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, sex can feel a bit like work, rather than the romantic and energetic connection it used to be. My advice to my patients is to try to keep sex from becoming a stressor and remember to have fun. Sexual stimulation improves cervical mucus and increases the flow of hormones, which in turn increases fertility.
In addition, one study found that men who were turned on by a partner had higher sperm counts than those who masturbated by themselves. It’s in your best interest not to give sex short shrift by letting it become too goal oriented.
Pick a Helpful Position
The missionary position is the best one to use when you are trying to conceive. Any other time, you should of course use whatever positions you enjoy.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s important to get the sperm as far along their journey as you can. The missionary position allows for penetration closest to the cervix.
After sex, stay put for ten to twenty minutes. This is a good time to have a cuddle and feel connected. I once had a patient, a yoga devotee, who used to stand on her head after intercourse to maximize the effects of gravity. I’m happy to tell you, that this is not necessary. Just don’t make the sperm fight gravity along with everything else. You may also have heard that the woman should lie with her legs up a wall. That’s certainly not going to hurt anything, but it isn’t necessary either. Just stay lying down. If you’re one of those women just dying for a pee after you’ve had sex, please don’t withhold urine so long that you give yourself a urinary tract infection. But you’ll be fine for fifteen minutes, if you can manage to hold it.
Choose a Fertility Enhancing Lubricant
Sexual lubricants (especially scented varieties) can interfere with conception. They are, in general, too acidic for the sperm to survive and swim well in. In addition, the concentration of salts in the lubricants can cause sperm to either shrink or swell beyond their capacity to perform normally. If you need a little extra moisture— and many couples do at ovulation or under the stress of trying to conceive— you don’t have to do without.
Look for Pre-Seed lubricant, which is specially designed for couples trying to conceive. A Cleveland Clinic study of lubricants published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that Pre-Seed was the only commercially available vaginal lubricant that didn’t decrease sperm motility or compromise sperm DNA.
Beware of some of the other common suggestions for lubrication, such as using a little warm water. Don’t! Water can kill sperm on contact. Or how about trying a little saliva? Wrong! Saliva contains digestive enzymes that stop sperm from swimming. Maybe you’ve heard that egg whites are a good lubricant. We don’t recommend them because of the risk of salmonella in raw eggs. (In addition, many patients who have tried it tell us it made them feel rather like an omelet!) Some doctors recommend mineral oil (sexual lubricants may contain it), but studies show that it may limit the ability of sperm to penetrate the egg. None of these effects is powerful enough to rely on as a birth control method, mind you, but when the idea is to get the sperm up to the egg, you do not want to make things any more difficult for them than they already are.
Have Lots of Sex
Forgive me if that seems obvious, but I think it bears repeating. In my experience patients often focus like lasers on the exact day of the woman’s cycle when they should have sex to conceive. I’ve also had lots of patients who have read on the Internet all about letting sperm build back up between ejaculations and end up limiting sex in some kind of rationing effort.
Here’s the advice we give our patients here at the Yinova Center. Unless the male partner has been diagnosed with a low sperm count or low semen volume, you can pretty much feel free to have all the sex you want. (It is a good idea to keep it to once a day.) Not only won’t it hurt anything but it will greatly increase your chances of conceiving. (It could reduce stress levels a bit, too, if you do it right.) Of course, it’s fine if you’re not inclined to have sex every day, but every other day around ovulation is important.
Research has shown that couples who have sex about once a week have a 15 percent chance of conceiving in any given cycle, while those having sex every day kick up their chances to 50 percent.
If you need more in-depth fertility counseling, all the practitioners here at the Yinova Center have many years of experience helping couples to conceive. We love our job and are happy to chat to you about any aspect of the fertility journey.
Good luck and have fun!