Have you ever wondered if there’s a particular position that will maximise your chances of conception? Should you prioritise comfort or gravity? Is there any truth to some of the myths surrounding sex and conception?
Read on to find out more!
The secret to getting pregnant often seems a mystery, and there are many myths, “tips and tricks”, and unqualified advice on the internet surrounding pregnancy and conception. For pregnancy to occur, semen must be deposited into the female reproductive tract, so any position which facilitates this process is likely to lead to conception. Once semen is in the female reproductive tract, individual sperm migrate towards and through the cervix (entrance to the womb), and toward the fallopian tubes. It is in the fallopian tube that a lucky sperm can penetrate a waiting egg, in a process known as conception. A study conducted in 64 women actually found that sperm can travel from the vagina to the fallopian tube in as little as one minute!
There is no scientific evidence that coital position affects chances of conception. It’s more important to ensure you’re having regular unprotected intercourse to increase your chances of pregnancy. It’s recommended to have sex every 2–3 days, and it may be beneficial to focus this around the time of ovulation.
The woman should have an orgasm
Female orgasm is certainly not necessary for conception, and there is conflicting evidence surrounding effects of orgasm on transport of semen and, by extension, chances of conception. During female orgasm, the hormone oxytocin has been shown to become elevated. Oxytocin is known to play a role in uterine contractions, and in fact it’s a synthetic version of oxytocin that’s often used in labour to help with contractions. There is a theory that the oxytocin released during orgasm may facilitate uterine contractions known as peristalsis which occur in waves towards the fallopian tubes. These contractions have been found to occur with or without orgasm, and appear to occur with greater efficacy around the time of ovulation. However other studies have debunked this theory. So, the jury is still out on if orgasm helps with conception! It’s important to remember that sex should still be pleasurable and fun, even if the end-goal is pregnancy. Try not to stress about having sex or achieving orgasm, and remember to relax and enjoy the sensations.
Doggy-style is the best position for conception
There’s no evidence the coital position influences chances of conception, and in fact engaging in sex in an uncomfortable or less preferred position can make sex a chore. As long as sex results in semen being deposited into the vagina, conception can occur. By all means experiment with sexual positions, but it’s likely counter-productive to engage in positions that aren’t to your liking!
Lying with your pelvis propped up after sex aids conception
While this makes sense, as it utilises gravity to move the semen from the outermost part of the vagina to the innermost part of the vagina, closest to the cervix, there is no evidence that adopting this position after normal sex has a significant effect on conception. However, a study has shown that women who remained in a horizontal position following artificial insemination resulted in a higher rate of pregnancy. Adopting strict practices after sex may hinder your relationship with your partner, as you may miss out on those post-sex cuddles that facilitate release of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes bonding and feelings of love and comfort.
Not peeing after sex increases your chances of conception
This myth is not only not scientifically founded; it may actually be harmful. Holding urine at predispose you to developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). The NHS recommends washing the genital area with water and emptying the bladder after sex to help prevent developing a UTI.
In conclusion, there are many myths and anecdotal “advice” surrounding sex and trying to conceive. The bottom line is, as long as you’re having sex that results in semen being deposited into the vagina, you’re doing the right thing to achieve pregnancy. When trying to conceive, it’s easy to fall into a regimented “sex schedule” and to become obsessed with trying every little “trick” to increase your chances of pregnancy. It’s important to remember to communicate with your partner, enjoy sexual intercourse, and take time to relax and enjoy the experience.