Top 5 misunderstandings about sex and conception
[Published: September 2021]
We were asked to dispel the myths about sex and conception and found that from even performing just a short search on the internet, that there is so much conflicting information out there, so no doubt it’s confusing! In this blog, we aim to dispel the top 5 misunderstandings about sex and conception, the most common misconceptions, myths and old-wives tales you have most likely heard when you are struggling to get pregnant.
1. Having lots of sex increases your chance of conceiving
This is not true.
When you are struggling to conceive your first baby, there is no scientific evidence that couples who have intercourse daily; or even several times in one day, increase their chances of conceiving any more than those who have sex every other day. In a woman’s fertile window, the optimum time to conceive is within the three days leading up to and including the day of ovulation, but seeing as ovulation isn’t the same day within any 12 months’ of cycles, this can be difficult to pinpoint.
To help maximise your chances of conceiving, it’s preferable that you have intercourse 3-4 times a week throughout the entire cycle, rather than focus on a particular window near to a theoretical ovulation date. The egg survives a day and sperm only survive for a couple days, so it’s beneficial to know that having regular sex can maximise your chances of the two meeting and fertilising.
Do bear in mind that frequent (daily) ejaculation can affect the quality of sperm and may actually decrease the sperm count. Abstaining for a day or two will help your reproductive system regenerate your swim team sufficiently ready for action. At the clinic, we recommend 2 to 3 days of abstinence before a sperm collection so that we can evaluate the optimum and true quality and count of sperm. Ejaculating 3/4 times a week also improves the DNA quality of the sperm.
2. Being on contraception for a long period of time can affect your chances of conceiving
This isn’t true.
Using contraceptives suppresses your ability to conceive within the current cycle in which they are used, but your reproductive system reverts quite quickly back to its normal function when you stop taking any birth control tablets, or have a coil or contraceptive implant removed. Some women can fall pregnant quite quickly while other women may need to process 2-3 cycles before conceiving, assuming there are no underlying health conditions which may be the cause of unsuspected infertility.
3. Infertility doesn’t affect people under the age of 35
Unfortunately, this isn’t true. 1 in 6 couples experience subfertility, regardless of their age.
This can be down to many factors, including medical history, current health, obesity, stress, diet, environmental factors and male factor fertility alone. If you have been trying to conceive for 6 months without success and you are under the age of 35, keep trying for a further 6 months before speaking to your GP or Fertility Consultant. However, if you are over 35 years of age you should consult a specialist after 6 months.
If you suspect either of you may have a medical condition or have medical history which may have affected your fertility, reach out to a Fertility Specialist after the first six months, as they will be able to diagnose any underlying conditions and provide guidance on how to move forward. Putting off what may be a few simple tests or a short discussion, can dramatically delay your dream of starting a family.
Remember that a GP is a General Practitioner and not a specialist in reproductive matters. They will likely refer you to a fertility specialist to discuss tests, diagnosis and a treatment plan if you are struggling to get pregnant.
4. Sexual Position is important
This is not true despite the many suggestions from well-intentioned internet articles.
The human reproductive system, eggs and sperm are genetically pre-programmed to run the gauntlet to achieve fertilisation when released. Trust in the process. Whilst deep penetration during intercourse may help to give sperm a head start, it’s not actually proven to affect the rate of conception. Equally, the old-wives tale of keeping your legs higher than your cervix post-coital activity is just as daft. A male releases millions of sperm during ejaculation and they are strong swimmers.
It’s actually more important for your emotional wellbeing, individually and as a couple, that you and your partner maintain the closeness of your relationship and enjoy each moment you share. Timed, specific and all-too-clinical sexual positions and activities will ultimately subdue the intimacy of the moment and become a little robotic, which may lead to an unwelcome strain within the relationship.
5. There’s something wrong with ‘her’
Thinking that you’re not falling pregnant because the woman has an issue is a myth that has to be dispelled. This is an all-too-common reaction by both parties when a couple fails to conceive. Remember - it takes two to tango. The fertility sector has as much to blame here; as most diagnosis and treatments have historically focused on treating the female when any subfertility issue arises.
However, in more recent years, with advancements in global fertility research and the more frequent analytics of treatment data has shown that almost half of all infertility cases relate directly to the male partner, specifically in relation to the quality of sperm, so it’s important to acknowledge that we test both parties when a couple are having delays to conceive.
- Having sex 3-4 times a week is recommended when struggling to conceive.
- Coming off contraceptives should not affect your chances but allow 2-3 months if unsure
- All couples, regardless of age, can have issues with infertility
- Sexual position is not important and neither is the female’s post-coital position
- Subfertility can affect both sexes – it’s not a woman-only issue
If you are trying to conceive and wish to book an appointment with our Fertility Consultant, it is easy to schedule an online video or telephone consultation at a time that suits you through our online clinic.