If you’re having sex with the intention of getting pregnant, you’re probably wondering if all the rumours about how to have sex to get pregnant are true. Is there a special time to have sex? Can a guy masturbate and still have enough sperm left for fertilisation? Are you more likely to get pregnant if you have sex in a certain position? Can you conceive if you don’t have an orgasm? Is there anything you can do to increase the chance you’ll have twins, or a baby boy or baby girl? Or should you just go on having sex the way you usually do?
When is the best time to get pregnant?
Although having sex at any time won’t hurt, the best time to have sex when you’re trying to get pregnant is during the second week after your last menstrual bleeding started. Conception occurs within 24 hours of ovulation (the release of an egg from your ovaries) which usually happens 10-14 days after the start of your last period. However, rather than trying to time sex to coincide with ovulation which can cause unnecessary stress, relax and focus on having regular sex, every couple of days.
Because sperm survive in a woman’s vaginal tract for about 48 hours after ejaculation, having sex in the lead up to ovulation is the perfect sexual recipe for pregnancy. You partner’s sperm will be ready and waiting when your egg is released into your fallopian tubes. Up to 40 million sperm are released each time a man ejaculates and only one of these are needed to fertilise your egg and start a pregnancy.
Will there be any sperm left if he masturbates?
So don’t worry if your partner throws away 40 million or so of his sperm masturbating. They won’t run out. When you’re trying to get pregnant, masturbation may seem like a precious waste, but evidence suggests that ejaculating every day or two (whether during sex or masturbation) actually stimulates the testicles to produce more sperm.
Masturbation is nothing to worry about, as long as you both save plenty of energy for sex to ensure some of the sperm he’s producing make it into your vagina.
Choosing the right sexual positions to get pregnant
As long as your partner ejaculates before withdrawing his penis, his sperm will enter your vaginal tract no matter what sexual position you try.
Dr Joe Kosterich says “there’s no evidence that any particular position makes getting pregnant more or less likely, nor is there evidence that lying down or lying on one’s back after sex increases the chance of conception. But doing this won’t reduce the chance either.”
That being said, “it is feasible that having sex in a position that allows for deep penetration could increase the chance of pregnancy, because in these positions the man’s sperm will be ejaculated deeper in the vagina.” That means a shorter swim for the sperm to reach the egg.
Orgasm and the chance of conception
The release of sperm into your vagina happens when your male partner orgasms. So, male orgasm is a necessary part of sex if you want to get pregnant. However, female orgasm is not necessary. If you don’t orgasm every time you have sex don’t worry. There’s no evidence that having an orgasm makes pregnancy any more likely. But having orgasms won’t do any harm when you’re trying to get pregnant either, so enjoy yourself!
The rumours about orgasms increasing the likelihood of pregnancy are based on the theory that the contractions of the cervix which accompany female orgasms suck sperm into the womb, making it easier for them to reach the egg awaiting fertilisation in the fallopian tubes. It’s an interesting theory, but there’s no evidence to support it. Research has shown that women who do orgasm and those women who do not have orgasms are equally likely to get pregnant.
Can you increase the chance of having a boy, a girl or twins?
There are two ways a woman can conceive twins. Occasionally, more than one egg is released from the ovaries in a single menstrual cycle. When that happens and both eggs are fertilised, non-identical twins will be the result. Identical twins are born after a single egg is fertilised by one sperm and the fertilised egg splits into two. If you have twins in your family, you’re more likely to conceive twins compared to a woman who doesn’t have twins in her family. However, there’s nothing you can do to control how many eggs you release during ovulation, or how many sperm penetrate your egg.
The sex of your baby is determined by your partner’s sperm. Each sperm contains what is known as a sex chromosome, and the sex chromosome is either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. X chromosomes make baby girls and Y chromosomes make baby boys.
Is there anything you can do to choose which one of the millions of sperm released when your partner ejaculates penetrates your egg? The simple answer is no.
Dr Kosterich says “there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll have a girl or boy baby. Half the sperm contain a Y chromosome, the other half contain an X chromosome. There’s nothing a couple can do to ensure one or the other fertilise the egg. The timing of sex or the sexual position will not change the ratio of X and Y chromosomes.”
Regular sex to get pregnant
The only way to get pregnant is to have sex, and the best way to increase your chances of conception is by having sex regularly, especially in the second week of your menstrual cycle. You and your guy can masturbate, orgasm and try new sexual positions until your hearts are content. But if you love the missionary position or don’t have an orgasm, you won’t reduce your chances of conception. When it comes to getting pregnant, it seems that all sex is pretty much equal, just make sure you do it every 2 to 3 days.
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- Dr Joe Kosterich MBBS, General Practitioner and member of the Parenthub and Virtual Medical Centre GP Editorial Advisory Board.