The most common way of getting pregnant is through vaginal sex. The man ejaculates and releases the spermatozoa that can fertilize the woman’s eggs. For some women, this happens easily, while for some, it may take time.
The timing and frequency of sex, the functioning of the endocrine system, and the overall health of the couple are some factors that affect the chances of pregnancy (1).
In this post, you will learn when and how often to have sex for pregnancy, and if sex positions play a role in increasing your chances of conception. However, if you are facing any fertility issues, see a specialist doctor for advice.
Having unprotected intercourse around the time of ovulation (when the egg releases from the ovary and is available for the sperm to meet) could increase your chances of getting pregnant. For women, who have a regular 28-day cycle, ovulation is expected to happen around the 14th day after their last period (2).
The day of ovulation varies as per the length of the menstrual cycle and from cycle to cycle. Hence, experts usually recommend having sex every two to three days throughout the month rather than waiting for ovulation.
But how does ovulation play a role in conception?
- A released egg usually lives for 12 to 24 hours. The sperm must fertilize the egg within this time for you to conceive.
- After being released into the woman’s body, the sperm can live for up to seven days. So even if you have had sex just a few days before ovulation, you may conceive (2).
The probability of conception is highest when you have sexual intercourse during the five days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation (3).
How Do You Know You Are Ovulating (To Get Pregnant)?
You may track your ovulation by counting the days in your menstrual cycle. Use a calendar or the ovulation calculator to track the fertile days. The cycle begins on the first day of your period and ends a day before the next period starts. During ovulation, you may also notice certain symptoms such as a rise in basal body temperature, changes in vaginal discharge, tenderness in breasts, and mild cramping in the lower abdomen (4).
Ovulation predictor kits may also detect the luteinizing hormone (an important hormone that controls the reproductive system and increases just before ovulation) in the urine (5). This could help you determine your ovulation time and the ideal time for intercourse to improve your odds of getting pregnant.
However, calculators, symptoms, or kits alone may not always be accurate. Therefore, you may regularly have sex throughout the month to increase your chances of conception.
Some experts believe that specific sex positions, such as the missionary position or doggie style, may be more effective than other positions (such as woman on top or standing) in aiding conception. But there are no definitive studies to support these claims (6).
A single ejaculation can release millions of sperm that swim into the vagina to meet the egg (7). The deposited sperm can reach the fallopian tube within minutes and meet the egg (8).
So, no matter what the sex position is, there is a chance of pregnancy when the man ejaculates into the vagina.
14 Sex Positions To Get Pregnant: What’s The Common Belief
These positions are believed to enable better penetration and thus more likely to help a woman get pregnant. However, remember that whichever position you try, it needs to be pleasurable and not painful. Enjoy having intercourse with your partner without the pressure of getting pregnant.
- Missionary position: Some people believe this position could help a couple get pregnant. With the man on top and woman lying on the back, the sperms could get a straightforward path to the cervix and may help you conceive.
- Doggy style: This position is likely to help in deeper penetration and open the cervix more than other positions. It might make it easier for the sperm to make its way inside.
- Glowing triangle: Just like the missionary, in the glowing triangle the woman is on the back with her partner on top on his all fours with his legs extended out. With the pelvis slightly raised, the woman may wrap her legs around her partner. It is said that this position allows deeper penetration and keeps the pelvis tilted upwards, increasing the chance of conception.
- The anvil: In this position, the man is again on top, but the woman has to raise her legs above the head before he penetrates. It might allow deep penetration and help hit the G-spot, both of which could help conceive.
- Magic mountain: This is another variance of the doggy style pose where the man bends over the woman in such a way that his chest on her back. It is believed that this pose allows the sperm to move deeper and faster. It might also hit the G-spot and help the woman orgasm.
- Spooning: In this pose, the woman lies on the side with her partner spooning from behind. The woman’s pelvis is tilted at a 90-degree angle, and it is thought to provide a better reach for sperm.
- Plough: The woman is positioned like a wheel burrow with legs in the air. The partner will hold onto her legs as he penetrates. It is believed that the gravity works to pull the sperm further down the cervix.
- Butterfly: The woman lies on her back, on a table. The partner moves between her legs and lifts her hips (or she may put pillows under her hips). It is thought to help the sperm stay in the vagina longer, ensuring better chances of conception.
- The splitting bamboo: The splitting bamboo is one of the Kamasutra poses, where woman raises one of her legs over the partner’s shoulders while he straddles over her thigh and uses her leg for support. Apart from hitting the G-spot, this position is likely to have deeper penetration and a better chance of conception.
- The union of the wolf: In this pose, the woman stands with her back to her partner. The partner holds her waist and penetrates. Some believe that it helps the sperms find a better way to the cervix, ensuring quicker conception.
- The union of the oyster: This pose is also thought to help conceive, apart from making sex more pleasurable. The woman lies on her back while bending her knees, and the partner will be in the kneeling position during intercourse.
- The padlock: The woman sits on the edge of some high furniture, supporting herself with arms behind her and her legs wrapped around her partner. It is thought to give the sperm that extra space and motion for easier conception.
- The peg: In this position, the man lies on his back, with the woman on top. This position is thought to help women with heavier partners.
- The sphinx: The woman has to lie on her tummy, with a weight on the forearms. One of the legs should be bent to the side while the other should be straight behind. The partner will then straddle her, with his weight on his arms. This position is likely to allow deeper penetration and conception.
How Often Should You Have Sex To Conceive?
There is no fixed number of times you must have sex to get pregnant. The likelihood of getting pregnant can depend on the age, genetics, and the overall health of the couple.
According to a statistical study lead by David Dunson of Duke University, who examined the chances of conception among 770 European women, 92% of women aged between 19 and 26 years, 86% of women of aged between 27 and 34 years, and 82% of women between the ages 35 and 39 years, conceived within a year of having sex at least twice a week (9) (1).
Studies also suggest that around 10% to 15% of couples may have difficulty in conceiving within a year, even if they have frequent sex without using birth control, for infertility (10).
Keep reading to know about the other factors that may influence your chances of getting pregnant.
Does A Lubricant Affect The Chances Of Getting Pregnant?
Lubricants are used to make intercourse more comfortable but may affect fertility. In vitro studies suggest that the use of lubricants may damage the sperm, but in vivo studies did not find any proof of reduced fertility among couples who used lubricants(11). However, further studies are required to determine the effect of vaginal lubricants on the chances of getting pregnant.
Does Lying Down After Sex Help You Get Pregnant?
It is a common belief that lying down for a few minutes right after sex increases the chances of conception, but there are no studies to support this theory. The belief stems from the idea that the semen is more likely to stay in and around the cervix when you lie down, whereas gravity can pull it away when you get up. This may or may not be true. Millions of sperms are released with every ejaculation, and there is a chance that several of them get into the fallopian tube whether the woman lays down and stays on her back for a while after sex.
Tips To Increase The Chances Of Getting Pregnant
Besides regular sexual intercourse, a few lifestyle changes, and practices could increase your chances of conception.
- Reach orgasm: Ejaculation by the man is essential for the woman to get pregnant, even if the woman doesn’t have an orgasm. However, the orgasmic movement after ejaculation can help propel the sperm towards the egg and remove a hostile environment in the vagina (12).
- Quit smoking: Smoking affects the estrogen levels in women and impairs ovulation. In men, it is known to affect the quality of sperm (13).
- Avoid alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption may alter the menstrual cycle and increase the risk of infertility (14). Likewise, alcohol consumption in men is linked to reduced testosterone levels, impotence, and infertility (15).
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or under-weight may affect fertility. Check your BMI and try to maintain an ideal weight after consulting a nutritionist.
- Do not take narcotic drugs: Intake of narcotic drugs can lead to fertility issues in both men and women. Recreational drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana, may also affect testosterone levels and impair sperm production (16).
- Get a sexual health check-up: Sexually transmitted diseases can affect your fertility and reduce your chances of getting pregnant (17). So, both you and your partner may get tested for STDs or any other sex-related issues before planning for a baby.
- Stay active: Regular and moderate exercises can help maintain optimum health and may improve your chances of conception (18).
When Should You See A Doctor?
Regular sex, combined with a healthy lifestyle, can increase your chances of getting pregnant but cannot guarantee it. Consult your doctor if you:
- Are over 35 years old and have not conceived even after six months of regular and unprotected sex.
- Are younger than 35 years and have been trying to conceive for over a year (19).
- Have fertility issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, and your partner has a low sperm count.
- Have irregular or no periods.
- Have had prior surgeries such as a hernia.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow the doctor’s advice to increase your chances of pregnancy. That said, do not plan when or how to have sex for pregnancy. Be spontaneous and enjoy the activity rather than worry about the ideal sex positions for pregnancy, for studies suggest that they do not have a real impact on your chances of conception.
Do not worry or get stressed if you are not getting pregnant even after trying. Talk to your doctor and follow their advice. Do you have any experiences to share or suggestions to give? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
2. Trying to get pregnant; NHS (2018)
3. Allen J. Wilcox et al.; Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation — Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby; NEJM (1995)
4. Gross BA; Natural family planning indicators of ovulation; Clinical Reproduction Fertility (1987)
5. Ovulation home test; NIH (2019)
6. How to Increase the Chances of Pregnancy; SexInfo Online; University of California (2015)
7. Semen Analysis; NIH
8. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion; The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama (2013)
9. Jean Twenge; How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby; UNC School of Medicine (2013)
10. Female Infertility; Harvard Health Publishing (2009)
11. Anne Z. Steiner et al.; Effect of Vaginal Lubricants on Natural Fertility; Obstetrics & Gynecology (2012)
12. Semen; Northern Arizona University
13. Sépaniak S; [Cigarette smoking and fertility in women and men]; Gynecol Obstet Fertil (2006)
14. Fact Sheets – Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women’s Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016)
15. Mary A. Emanuele and Nicholas V. Emanuele; Alcohol’s Effects on Male Reproduction; NIAAA Research Library; NIH (1998)
16. Andrea Sansone et al.; Smoke, alcohol and drug addiction and male fertility; Reprod Biol Endocrinol (2018)
17. Infertility Risk Factors for Men and Women; University of Rochester Medical Center
18. The role of exercise in improving fertility, quality of life and emotional wellbeing; The Fertility Society of Australia
19. Female Infertility; The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (2019)