Trying to conceive (#TTC) can be an all-consuming, frustrating and sometimes confusing journey. For many people, the tricky part of getting pregnant is that so much emphasis (and pressure) is placed on SEX. I cannot tell you how many of my patients have complained that scheduling sex robs the romance from their sex lives, and how a fun part of their relationships has become more like a chore.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to tackle the when, where, why and how of baby making sex to lift some of the pressure you may be feeling and keep you focused on what matters most.
When Should I Have Sex to Get Pregnant?
The when is the most important piece of the process that is under your control. If you want all the finer details, see “6 Tips for Getting Pregnant Fast,” but I’ll give you a quick rundown here. ?
Each month, about 14 days prior to your period, you ovulate one egg. This egg can live for about 24 hours, hoping to meet that one lucky sperm. Sperm, on the other hand, can live up to five days in the reproductive tract. This means that your “fertile window” is the five days prior to, and including the day of, ovulation. It is ideal to have sex every day or at least every other day during your fertile window.
If you’re using an ovulation predictor kit, you should have sex the day it turns positive and the day after. (OPKs detect the LH surge, which occurs 24 to 36 hours prior to ovulation, so you want those sperm ready to make the journey to meet your egg once you’ve ovulated.)
Where to Have Sex to Get Pregnant?
The where is a part of this process that gives you a chance to get creative and keep things spicy for you and your partner.
There is no evidence that sex in a certain place or in a certain position has any effect on your ability to conceive.
But if you’re going to be doing it, you might as well have a good time. ?
If your favorite place to make love is in your comfy bed, perfect. If you want to remember that your kiddo was conceived in the backyard, great. Trying new positions and locations can help to keep things fresh and exciting. Anywhere you’re both comfortable is an ideal spot.
Why Have a Baby & What to Remember Before Getting Pregnant?
My biggest encouragement for anyone trying to conceive is to remember the reason for all of this—you want to share your life with your own tiny human. This beautiful truth can become lost in the hustle, so try to keep that purpose and hope front and center as best you can.
There is some evidence that stress hurts fertility, so healthy habits that help you de-stress are incredibly important when you’re trying to conceive. Go on a date with your partner, exercise, start a journal, get a massage or a manicure, take a cooking class together—anything that helps you relax and enjoy this part of the process.
Sex for Pregnancy: Baby Making Sex
The how of sex for conception is a topic filled with myth and misinformation, which turn this fun process into a seemingly high-stakes event.
As mentioned above, there is absolutely zero data at this time to suggest one sex position is better than another in helping you get pregnant. From an OB-GYN’s perspective, the best sex positions are the ones that are most comfortable and enjoyable for you. It’s that simple. You may have heard that missionary is the best position because of the pelvic tilt, alignment of the cervix and gravity. While this seems to make sense, there is no proof that missionary position is better than any other... but why not try it?
You might also enjoy the intimacy of spooning, or maybe you find that you have more fun with doggy-style or woman-on-top positions.
There is no wrong answer, so choose your own adventure!
While there is no strong proof for this, you may want to cuddle in bed for five to 10 minutes post-sex to keep the sperm “in” for a little longer than you may normally. If you only have time for a quickie, though, don’t worry. Sperm are fast swimmers and can make it to the egg in under five minutes! ?
It’s also important to know that some lubricants (K-Y, Astroglide, saliva, olive oil) can make sperm move more slowly or decrease their ability to survive, so it is best to avoid them if possible during your fertile window. Sperm-friendly options include mineral oil, canola oil and Pre-Seed, so opt for one of these if you need lubricant.
The most important factors in your #TTC journey are to get your timing right and enjoy yourself. Waiting for results can be frustrating, but remember that the fun is in the process.
A version of this story was originally published on Nov. 17, 2016. It has been updated.