February 13, 2019

Valentine’s Day: Top 5 misunderstandings about sex and conception


As we approach the day when the nation celebrates love and affection, Oxford Fertility busts the top 5 misunderstandings about conception, helping couples to stop worrying about the best positions for conception and get back to focusing on intimacy in their relationship.


1: We must have lots of sex

To maximise your chances of conceiving, it’s best to have unprotected sex every two or three days throughout the cycle: from the end of your period to the beginning of the next one. Sperm live for a couple of days, as do a woman’s eggs and so this frequency of sex will maximise the chance of the two meeting and fertilising.

You can have sex every day, there’s no harm in it, but it won’t increase your chances. This frequency will drop the average sperm count and so lead to the same chance of conception. But if you have sex less often than every few days, it will naturally reduce your chances of conceiving.


2: Tracking kits and apps will maximise our chances of conception

Many couples can get drawn into the exact timing of sex, trying to ensure sex happens on the day a woman ovulates, releasing an egg from the ovaries. This has led to temperature charts, ovulation kits and now fertility app calculators such as Clue and Period Day.

However, there’s no proof that ovulation kits or apps help at all. They add stress and cost, and in fact, people using them can cause more damage. If it doesn’t work or you are using it incorrectly, you could potentially miss having sex during ovulation.

In fact, many women with irregular cycles use the kits or apps which can delay conception. Rather than relying on the tracker to try and monitor irregular periods over a long time, it would be much better to see a GP. They will be able to identify if treatment can help the woman to start ovulating regularly. It may be, like one in ten women, the woman has PCOS, which once diagnosed, medicine can help.

This should come as a relief as focusing on sex on a certain date can turn it into a task that has to be done, even if you aren’t in the mood, which isn’t good for your long-term sex life.


3: The best position for conception

There are lots of articles online that give tips on the best position when trying for a baby. The truth is, there is no one position that can be recommended. Men produce millions of sperm that can move a good distance and so can cope with most positions.

On average, 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year of trying. Of those that don’t get pregnant in the first year, half will go on to get pregnant in the second year. So as it may take you a while to conceive, it’s important to focus on enjoying intimacy and sex with your partner. Sticking with a position chosen due to its conception chances won’t help in this. You also don’t need to stick with a position you know will lead to an orgasm for the woman, as a woman’s orgasm reflects satisfaction, it won’t help to get the sperm to the egg.

The only real requirement is that penetration takes place. And so, if there are any issues with the man gaining an erection, problems with penetration or if you experience any pain, then go to your GP. They will be able to identify how best to help.


4: The best position after sex

Let’s talk about pillows. We hear lots of people say that they’ve been recommended to put a pillow under their back, stay still and even raise their legs after sex to help the sperm reach the egg. Just to clarify, this is nonsense. You can get up straight away after sex, it won’t impact your chances. Although it is nice to take advantage of the moment with your partner to talk.


5: Don’t drink before sex

As many of us will be booking a table to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we wanted to include a reminder about alcohol consumption. Research hasn’t yet found a strong link between moderate alcohol intake and infertility, although heavier drinking is associated with a decrease in fertility, particularly in men. So, at a time when everyone seems to be telling you to stop everything, if a glass of wine helps you to relax and importantly spend quality time with your partner then go ahead…but keep it in moderation.