Sex is a pretty large part of the baby-making equation – and it should be a very enjoyable one! However, we know that at the start of your fertility journey, the pressure to do it in a certain place, at a certain time, in a certain position can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are our five simple tips on sex when trying for a baby.
Quick note: This blog is aimed at heterosexual couples who are still focused on conceiving naturally. There are a bunch of ways to become a father – and families aren’t always built by a man and a woman. We have other articles on assisted fertility and LGBTQ parenthood if this blog isn’t for you!
Get your head around the fertile window
At school, teachers were charged with putting fear into the hearts of teenagers, that any sexual intercourse would result in pregnancy. The truth is, that there are only a few days each month that it’s really possible for a woman to get pregnant. These few days are called the fertile window. If there’s one thing you do need to think about when it comes to sex and conceiving, it’s this.
In a regular cycle, ovulation will occur once a month – usually in the middle of your partner’s cycle. The day of ovulation is technically the day you’re most likely to get pregnant. There are various ways to help pinpoint ovulation – from basal temperature to understanding cervical mucus – and we recently partnered with ovulation tracker Ovusense, which helps women understand their fertile window by measuring their core body temperature from the vagina. However, it can still be difficult to predict the exact moment it’s going to happen – as cycles can fluctuate for various reasons.
The thing is, sperm can live inside a woman’s reproductive system for a few days. So you could have sex on Tuesday and your partner might ovulate Thursday. Your swimmers could hang out in there, waiting for the egg to arrive, and fertilise it a few days later. Another thing to bear in mind is that the egg will die around 24 hours after ovulation, if not fertilised by sperm, so you don’t want to miss your spot! Our advice – have sex every day in the days leading up to ovulation, the predicted day of ovulation itself, and the day after, to maximise your chances of conceiving.
But make sure you’re still having sex the rest of the month
Just because you can only get pregnant during a set period of time, doesn’t mean that you need to limit your sex life to just that window! Firstly – making love to your partner, when you’re not focused on conceiving, will strengthen your connection and remind both of you that sex is about more than making a baby, it can also just be a really fun thing to do.
Secondly – there’s science behind it. If sperm is stored in your testicles for too long, it could start to damage the quality, specifically your sperm motility. Ideally, you should be aiming for 2-3 ejaculations a week to keep your swimmers fighting fit – ready to hit the road when you reach that all-important fertile window.
One word of advice – don’t go overboard. If you’re having sex every day – or multiple times a day – it could lead to burnout. It’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and the last thing you want is for you or your partner to start feeling like sex is a chore rather than a fun and exciting activity. Keep it fresh (both your sex life and your sperm) and your chances of conceiving – and enjoyment levels – should stay high.
Forget worrying about positions
This is a myth that drives us crazy. The internet is awash with theories that certain sexual positions increase your chances of conceiving. There’s even claims that doing it in a certain way can help you control what gender your baby is! Whilst most of these theories come from well-meaning parents, wanting to offer advice to people at the start of the fertility journey – it can actually make the whole process more stressful than it needs to be. How are you supposed to enjoy being intimate with your partner if you’re worried about pulling a muscle, bending into some awkward position that should belong in Cirque de Soleil?
The truth is, there’s no real science to support theories connecting sexual positions with conception chances. Likewise, the idea that your partner needs to lie down with her legs elevated after sex is hearsay too. The truth is that healthy sperm travel really fast and can be found in the female reproductive trace seconds after ejaculating.
When it comes to positions, do what feels right for you and what brings you and your partner the most pleasure. It’s really as simple as that.
…But don’t forget about her pleasure
When it comes to baby-making lovemaking, male ejaculation tends to take centre stage. Whilst it’s true that your orgasm is delivering the ‘goods’ – that doesn’t mean all the focus should be on your enjoyment. Female pleasure is often sidelined (have you heard of the gender pleasure gap?) and forgotten about during sex, and that’s not cool. Satisfying your partner has a whole bunch of benefits – including a stronger emotional bond and heightened mental wellbeing – both of which are great allies on your road to parenthood.
There are also many other internet-fueled rumours that if your partner has an orgasm, it increases the chance of conceiving. The theory goes that the pelvic contractions experienced during an orgasm can help draw sperm into the reproductive tract faster. There’s also talk of increased oxytocin levels (the hormone that floods your brain when you climax) being helpful for speeding up sperm.
There are a couple of very small studies that indicate there could be some truth in these rumours, but to honest – the scientific jury is still out. That said, this is one myth that there is no harm in leaning in to – and your partner will probably be very happy if you do!
Make sure you enjoy it!
With all this talk or hormones and sperm health, we know that trying for a baby can start to feel a little scientific. But ultimately you have to remember that at the heart of it, sex is an expression of the fact you love each other – which is probably the reason you quite like the idea of starting a family together.
Sex can be many things – fun, sensual, kinky, romantic – but it shouldn’t feel tiresome or robotic. If it feels like you’re losing the spark and focusing too much on conceiving over lovemaking, talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. It might be that you need to take a step back and reconnect as a couple – it might be that you need to grab the fluffy handcuffs and whipped cream. Whatever you’re in to as a couple, is down to you – and at his stage of a fertility journey, you should be enjoying this process of trying.