You and your partner have decided to ditch the birth control pills, throw out the condoms, and start trying to get pregnant. You’ve seen your gynecologist for a preconception appointment, and you’ve started taking prenatal vitamins.
There’s nothing left to do but the deed! But many couples find that what used to be simple and natural is suddenly fraught with concerns. Is there a right way to have baby-making sex? Does position matter? Can you still use lubricants? Do you need to rest afterward?
Here’s the truth about some common baby-making myths.
Myth: Saliva can kill sperm cells.
The truth: Some studies show that large quantities of saliva can impair sperm motility in an infertile couple. This might be true for a man who already has a decreased sperm count. But in most cases, if the man has a normal sperm count and motility, it’s not true.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for several months without success, try avoiding oral sex to see if it helps you conceive.
Some fertility doctors have specific guidelines about what sexual practices are allowed when the man is producing a sperm sample for a semen analysis or intrauterine insemination. Check with them if you’ll be assisting with the sperm collection process.
Myth: You shouldn’t use lubricants because they can kill sperm.
The truth: Some lubricants do affect the sperm’s ability to reach the cervical mucus and the egg. This can prevent pregnancy. Spending lots of time on foreplay can increase a woman’s production of her natural lubrication.
If you’d still like to use a lubricant, try Pre-Seed, a fertility-friendly product.
Myth: You can only conceive if the female partner has an orgasm.
The truth: After ejaculation, sperm will reach the fallopian tubes in minutes, regardless of whether the female partner has or doesn't have an orgasm. There’s no research to support whether female orgasm improves the chance of conception.
Myth: You should only use the missionary position when trying to get pregnant.
The truth: There isn’t any research that proves one position or another is more effective. Any sexual position can result in pregnancy. There are a few positions that can help the sperm get to where they need to be a little quicker and easier, though. They tend to be those that facilitate deep penetration to get the sperm cells closer to the cervical opening.
Myth: You should rest with your hips elevated for 20-30 minutes after having sex.
The truth: There’s no evidence that this one’s true. Sperm cells reach the fallopian tubes within minutes after ejaculation. And keep in mind, a single ejaculate can contain up to hundreds of millions of sperm cells. Even if a little bit leaks out when a woman stands up, that still leaves millions of cells in the body.
Myth: You need to have sex all the time in order to get pregnant.
The truth: Long periods of abstaining from sex are known to decrease the quality of sperm cells. In addition, having sex very frequently can decrease sperm counts. Doctors recommend having sex once a day, or once every other day, during a woman’s fertile window.
Myth: Drinking cough syrup can make it easier to get pregnant.
The truth: There’s no scientific evidence to back this one up, but many women swear by this technique. The theory is that the active ingredient in many cough syrups, guaifenesin, may thin cervical mucus and make it easier for sperm to meet egg.
But there’s no medical research to support this and it’s not a good idea to take medication that you don’t need. This can make it less effective if you need it later on.
Myth: Your partner should switch to boxers to improve his sperm count.
The truth: A few studies have shown that wearing briefs may elevate scrotal temperature. This can decrease sperm quality and motility. More research needs to be done. But it might be beneficial for a man to avoid situations that raise the temperature in the scrotum. These include wearing briefs, swimming in hot tubs, or using a laptop on his lap.
As always, you should talk to your doctor about your specific situation and any questions that you have. It’s very common for it to take several months to get pregnant, even though we want it to happen right away.
If you’re under 35 and have been trying for about a year, check in with your doctor or a fertility specialist. If you are over 35, give it about six months before you make an appointment.