When you’re trying to conceive, you can read a lot of different opinions and advice online about how and when to have sex. It’s confusing! We decided to get our facts straight and asked Dr. Shannon M. Clark, a double board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, for her best tips to try while babymaking:
Should I have sex every day while ovulating?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that having sex all the time will increase your chance of becoming pregnant. The key is to have sex every other day during your ovulatory period. This is because it typically takes 48 hours for a man’s sperm count to regenerate.
What sex position will work best to conceive?
There is no one position that is definitively better than the others. However, it is believed that the typical missionary position may have a slight advantage over other positions.
In addition, any maneuvers that allow gravity to work in your favor may help. For example, placing a pillow under your hips for several minutes after intercourse and lying flat may help. Overall, having sex in positions that allow gravity to assist in getting sperm to where they need to be are the most beneficial.
Is it okay to use lubricant during sex while we’re trying to conceive?
Sperm-friendly lubricants (avoid water-based lube and instead use those that are hydroxyethyl cellulose-base) without spermicide. Avoiding douching after intercourse is recommended.
Also, it is commonly thought that a woman must have an orgasm in order to enable sperm to enter the cervix and reach the egg. While this may in fact occur, it does not necessarily improve a woman’s chances of conceiving.
During ovulation, the thickened cervical mucus does a good job of enabling the sperm to get to where they need to be.
How does the timing of ovulation work?
A woman’s menstrual cycle typically lasts between 28 to 32 days. Women with a regular menstrual cycle can find out their fertile days with the use of an online ovulation calculator or fertility chart. She can put the start dates of her previous 2-3 menstrual cycles into an online calculator to see when ovulation should occur.
The first day of a woman’s period is taken as the starting point of the menstrual cycle–and if the cycle is a 28-day cycle–the 14th day after a period is estimated to be her ovulation time. In this case, days 12 to the 16th (from the day of last period) are the most fertile days for the woman. Having sex on days 10 to day 18 may increase the chances of conception.
Ovulation in general can occur between day 10 and day 19 of the menstrual cycle, or 12 to 16 days before the next period is due. This depends on each individual woman’s cycle. More specifically, ovulation typically occurs at day 14-15 of the menstrual cycle; approximately 10-12 hours after the LH (luteinizing hormone) peak occurs and 24-36 hours after peak estradiol levels are obtained. The LH concentration should remain elevated for 14-27 hours to allow for full maturation of the oocyte.
Bottom line—when is the absolute best time to have sex during ovulation?
The chances of pregnancy are maximized during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle, and reflect the lifespan of sperm (5 days) and the lifespan of the released oocyte (24 hours).
The likelihood of actually becoming pregnant is dramatically increased if you have intercourse in the three days leading up to and including ovulation.
In summary, if a couple is trying to conceive they should start having sex two days before the expected start date of ovulation and then every other day. The reason for adding a day or two surrounding the predicted ovulation time period is that some women ovulate earlier and some later than expected.
Shannon M. Clark, MD is a double board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist focusing on the care of women with either maternal or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark is also an Associate Professor at UTMB-Galveston and the founder of Babies After 35.