7 Things You Should Know About Sex and Getting Pregnant
How frequently should you have sex for pregnancy? Should you lie flat on your back with your legs in the air if you want to conceive a baby? How do you time intercourse to increase your chances of getting pregnant? If you’re trying to conceive a baby, you might wonder about your sexual frequency.
“We’ve only been trying to conceive for two months, so we’re not too worried yet,” says Elizabeth on Find Out Why You Can’t Get Pregnant – 4 Fertility Checklists. “But I have read conflicting reports on the frequency of sex for pregnancy. In other words, how often we should be having sex if we want to get pregnant? What do you know about the frequency of intercourse and the chances of conceiving a baby? Thank you.”
Some fertility doctors and natural health practitioners advising having intercourse every second day – but new research shows it’s better to increase the frequency of sex – to once a day – when pregnancy is your goal. If you’re trying to conceive a baby, you might want to increase your sexual frequency. Below, I share ten things you need to know about sex and getting pregnant – including how often you should engage in the lovely act of intercourse if you’re trying to achieve a healthy pregnancy…
If you’ve been researching how to get pregnant, you might already know that ovulation is a huge factor in conception. But one of the big questions is how frequently should you have sex for pregnancy? Can you have too much intercourse? Should you do anything special after sex, to improve the chances of getting pregnant?
So many questions, so few answers!
“All that we knew was that intercourse on the day of ovulation offered the highest chance of pregnancy, but we did not know what was the best advice for the period leading up to ovulation or egg retrieval for IVF,” says Dr David Greening, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Australia. “I thought that frequent ejaculation might be a physiological mechanism to improve sperm DNA damage, while maintaining semen levels within the normal, fertile range.”
Dr Greening believes that couples who are trying to conceive a baby might be more successful if they have sex frequently. But, other doctors and researchers have reported that too-frequent sex can result in abnormal sperm morphology.
I don’t have a clear-cut answer for you, but here are…
7 Things You Should Know About Sex and Getting Pregnant
When my husband and I were trying to conceive, one of our biggest struggles (for me) was feeling like I HAD to have sex every day (the definition of “frequent sex for pregnancy” is once a day). Having sex for pregnancy – especially daily – made it feel sorta not very romantic! So I was happy to read in one of my “how to get pregnant” books that daily intercourse might not be the best route because it doesn’t allow sperm to regenerate and proliferate.
Your thoughts and information about conceiving a baby are welcome below. I’d love to hear what you think, what you’ve learned, and what your experience is. I can’t give advice or tips for pregnancy, but your experience is valuable.
1. Determining the frequency of sex for pregnancy isn’t an exact science
Some fertility books and doctors say to have sex every second or third day, to allow sperm a chance to regenerate and grow. Other fertility doctors and books say more frequent sex is better, because it increases the sperm and thus increases the likelihood of conceiving a baby.
Dr Greening’s research on frequency and pregnancy is interesting because it supports the second theory: have sex frequently if you’re aiming for conception. But, it adds new and different information to the existing body of research. These fertility researchers found that daily sex (or ejaculating daily) for seven days improved men’s sperm quality by reducing the amount of DNA damage.
2. Sperm quality increases with frequent sex
Sex frequency can improve sperm health and quantity. Dr Greening said the reason sperm quality improved with frequent ejaculation may be because the sperm had a shorter exposure in the testicular ducts and epididymis to reactive oxygen species (very small molecules, high levels of which can damage cells. This leads to reduced fertility in males).
Until now there has been no research-based consensus amongst fertility specialists regarding sex frequency for pregnancy and trying to conceive a baby – whether the couple is undergoing infertility treatments or not. This study shows that frequent sex (daily) decreased semen volume and sperm concentrations, but improved sperm motility.
So if you’re trying to get pregnant, you should have sex frequently! The men in this study ejaculated or had sex every day, and did nothing else to improve their fertility levels.
3. Research doesn’t prove if good sperm quality leads to higher conception rates
“Further research is required to see whether the improvement in these men’s sperm quality translates into better pregnancy rates, but other, previous studies have shown the relationship between sperm DNA damage and pregnancy rates,” he said. In other words, unhealthy sperm or sperm DNA damage decreases your chances of getting pregnant and increases your chances of an unsuccessful pregnancy.
“The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less than seven days, but a week appears manageable and favorable,” said Dr Greening. “It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before the ovulation date. In the context of assisted reproduction, this simple treatment may assist in improving sperm quality and ultimately achieving a pregnancy.”
If you don’t know when you’re ovulating, get an ovulation test.
4. A man’s fertility and health plays a big role in achieving pregnancy
This fertility research may mean that men play a greater role in conceiving a baby (or not getting pregnant) than previously suspected.
Dr Greening concludes that frequency of sex is important for pregnancy because it can improve sperm quality, which is especially important as men age. A man’s fertility and health is even more important if couples are getting infertility treatments or undergoing assisted reproduction cycles. But, it’s also important to remember that there are different reasons for not getting pregnant – no matter how frequent sex is. For instance, if a man isn’t producing sperm at all, then it doesn’t matter how frequently intercourse happens. And if a woman isn’t ovulating, then she’s not producing eggs…which makes conceiving a baby almost impossible.
Source of Dr Greening’s information on frequency of sex for pregnancy: “Daily Sex Helps Reduce Sperm DNA Damage And Improve Fertility” from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.
For more tips on conceiving a baby, read 6 Foods to Avoid When You’re Trying to Get Pregnant.
5. Frequency of sex and a man’s sperm count
Science has shown us that a sperm count of at least 20 million parts per milliliter is necessary for conception to occur, and studies show that chances of conception are highest when sperm count is at least 40-50 million/mL. There’s a wide range for what’s considered “normal” when it comes to sperm count—anywhere from 35 to 120 million/mL.
Has your husband or boyfriend tested his sperm for count, motility, normality, health? A semen analysis is a really important step for couples who are having trouble getting pregnant. If you and he have been having frequent sex for over a year and there’s still no pregnancy, then it may be a sperm health issue. Male fertility problems account for about 33% of all problems getting pregnant.
Ejaculating every two to three days keeps sperm healthy. If your husband or boyfriend doesn’t release sperm for more than two or three days, his sperm count will rise. But, it’s not just healthy good sperm that increase – so does the proportion of dead, immotile, misshapen or abnormal sperm. This hurts your chances for conception.
Doctors and fertility experts say that men with low sperm counts and quality need to have a day off between ejaculations. This gives his sperm time to regenerate and blossom! But this is only if your guy has a low sperm count (below 40 million/mL). If he his sperm count never goes below the 40 million/mL mark, then you can have sex as frequently as you’d like without hurting your chances of pregnancy. But there’s no way of knowing for sure without doing a semen analysis.
A semen analysis can help your husband determine his sperm count, quality, and health. Read How to Understand the Results of Your Semen Analysis for more info on sperm health.
6. Frequent sex improves a woman’s immune system
I don’t know if this is good news or bad news: the frequency of sex has a positive healthy effect on a woman’s immune system – even when she’s not in her fertile window or ovulating. This positive healthy effect can improve her chances of chances of conception when she is ovulating. Sex changes a woman’s immune system in ways that improve her chances of pregnancy.
According to data from the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender and Reproduction and the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior (both at Indiana University), ‘‘the more frequently a woman engages in sexual activity, the more often her immune system gets the message that it’s time to reproduce.’’ That was a direct quote from Tierney Lorenz, the research scientist at the Kinsey Institute who led both studies. The research did not study or assess pregnancy rates or rates of illness and infection, so the practical implications of these findings isn’t certain.
7. Intercourse during your fertile window is best for getting pregnant
“Having sex every day during a woman’s fertile window (usually the five days leading up to the day of ovulation, including the OV day itself) gives you a 25 percent chance of conceiving,” writes AvaWomen on How Often Should You Have Sex to Get Pregnant? “Doing it every other day gives you slightly lower chances, 22 percent. When couples have sex just once per week, conception probability drops dramatically – to just 10 percent.” These fertility and conception statistics reflect pregnancies that ended in live births. When miscarriages are included, the conception rates are moderately higher for both daily and every second day sex.
Do you track your “fertile window”? You should if you really want to get pregnant – but if you’re not tracking your ovulation cycle, don’t worry about it too much if you just started trying to conceive a baby. You might want to increase your sex frequency to every other day all month long, though. This way, you’re guaranteed to have sex at some point during your peak fertile time. If you don’t know exactly when you’re ovulating, you’d have to have sex every single day just to make sure you it your fertile window. It’s probably better to track your fertility and ovulation cycle – unless, of course, you want to have frequent intercourse for pregnancy until you get that positive pee test!
Help Getting Pregnant
The Clearblue Digital Ovulation Test is an easy-to-use home ovulation test that is over 99% accurate at detecting the fertility luteinizing hormone (LH) surge. The optical reader interprets your result and gives you a clear smiley face in the result window when your LH surge has been detected. How is this helpful? It tells you what your most fertile two days are (ovulation), so you can have sex for pregnancy on those days. Having sex when you ovulate is extremely important — it offers the highest chance of conception.
May you be blessed with a successful conception and a healthy pregnancy. May your love be alive and fresh no matter how frequent it is, and may you and your husband enjoy a peaceful, joyful, loving relationship with each other and your children.
In faith and hope, joy and peace,
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