Angie Best-Boss, co-author of Budgeting for Infertility: Bringing Home Baby Without Breaking the Bank, had difficulty conceiving her own two daughters. Best-Boss believes that sex can become a chore when a couple is having trouble conceiving. It's important to keep things in perspective. "Keep a sense of humor, be gentle with each other, and make an effort to connect emotionally before you connect physically, but be realistic," she says. "Baby-making sex just may not be that hot, but it can be tender. Keep one night a week off limits for baby or ovulation talk."
All About Position
Dr. Lee R. Hickok, a reproductive endocrinologist for Pacific NW Fertility and IVF Specialists in Seattle, says that conception sex is less about the position a couple has sex in than what time of the cycle they have sex. "There is no information that suggests that one sexual position is any better than another," he says. "There may be some benefit to a woman lying on her back for 10 minutes or so after intercourse to facilitate the exposure of the sperm to the cervix."
Dr. Hickok says that couples should not be alarmed if there is some loss of fluid from the vagina when the woman stands. Generally this will be the seminal fluid which constitutes the bulk of the ejaculate. "If the couple is having intercourse at the right time of the cycles the sperm will have already traversed the cervical mucus," he says.
Best-Boss agrees that while no scientific studies have been carried out to address this issue, there are some theories as to the best positions. "Missionary position (man on top) is said to be the best, because it allows for the deepest penetration, but there isn't any research to back that up," she says. "The theory is that it takes gravity into consideration. You want to choose a position that deposits sperm as close to the cervix as possible. Plus, good baby-making sex is better than uncomfortable baby-making sex. It's more important that you enjoy having sex than it is to have sex in a position you absolutely hate." Remember, while it isn't vital for a woman to reach orgasm in order to conceive, some experts suggest that contractions, which accompany an orgasm, may help carry sperm into the womb.
Timing Really Is Everything
The most important thing to remember is well-timed intercourse. Having sex at the right time matters more than position. "As such it is usually recommended that couples start having intercourse three or four days before ovulation," Dr. Hickok says. "The best study on the relationship between timing of intercourse and chance of pregnancy found that this is the optimal time to begin trying. Having intercourse every other day during this period is adequate. Having intercourse more frequently is not detrimental. Fresh sperm will survive in the woman's reproductive tract for five or six days."
Pinpointing ovulation is more key than worrying about which sexual positions you choose. Dr. Hickok says that it is also important for couples to remember that fertility therapy often takes the spontaneity out of a couple's sexual relationship, and they need to be guarded about allowing the therapy to ruin what should be a pleasurable experience.
Keeping Baby Sex Enjoyable
No one wants their sex life to become a chore, but that can happen when the focus is on the outcome rather than the process. While having sex daily during the right time in the cycle isn't detrimental to conception, it can play havoc on a couple's enjoyment. Every other day is still effective and keeps the sex from becoming rote. Remember to slow down and enjoy one another. Try to make it romantic by changing the setting or the routine. Baby sex should add to a couple's love and appreciation, not detract from it.
5 Tips for Conception Sex
Best-Boss recommends the following tips for great conception sex:
- Avoid lubricants. They can damage the sperm. (Even saliva can slow the critters down.) If it's absolutely necessary, use water-based lubes (and not spit). Avoid oral sex given to the female. Underwater sex doesn't work either (of course, neither does anal sex).
- Enjoy it. Take your time during foreplay. Make love, not just a baby.
- Time it well. Know your ovulation signs.
- Don't overdo it. Aim for every other day instead of every day to allow sperm counts to recharge and hopefully chase some of the boredom away.
- Lie still afterwards. After sex, lie still in bed with your hips slightly elevated. Don't buy expensive props or contort yourself. Just stick a pillow under your butt for 20 minutes.