The Internet can be a powerful tool when it comes watching cat videos or digging up information on your Tinder date, but it can also lead anyone looking for health advice down a scary rabbit hole. And for couples looking for advice on fertility and conception – that rabbit hole can get twisted and awkward really quick.
There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to making a baby, from which tricky positions to use to what you should eat or drink after sex. To help put these matters to rest, I’ll answer this question I recently got from a reader.
“Dear Dr. Manny,
Are there any sex positions that can help improve your chances of getting pregnant?”
The question is not entirely uncommon, but the answer is also not black and white. While some experts will confidently tell you that yes, specific positions can influence a couple’s chances of conceiving, there are undoubtedly articles dedicated to debunking that same position’s powers. For instance, some articles will suggest a rear-entry position to maximize penetration and possibly give sperm a head start on reaching the cervix, and while many couples are happy to oblige, others may find the position painful or uncomfortable. To put you on the path to parenting, it’s important to consider which pieces of advice are based on scientific fact rather than fiction.
Only one study has actually involved a real couple having sex in an MRI machine, but the results weren’t meant to study conception. What researchers wound up focusing on instead was the placement of the penis while a couple was engaged in the missionary position and if it were possible to capture female sexual arousal. (Spoiler alert: Turns out it is.)
But in regards to the power of sex positions, the best advice to take is the one of licensed professionals, and the general consensus among us is that rest — not a sex position — after doing the deed may help lead you down the path of conception. One study of women receiving intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment found that women who remained on their backs for 15 minutes after the sperm transfer had 27 percent pregnancy rate after three cycles, while those who were encouraged to get up right away saw an `8 percent pregnancy rate.
While old adages suggest lying down with your legs up to help guide sperm toward an awaiting egg, it hasn’t been scientifically proven to help. (But if hanging upside will help you’re your mind, by all means, do it.) However the benefits that come with relaxing after such an intimate act instead come from lowering a woman’s stress levels. More and more research is proving a link between high stress levels and infertility, meaning if you allow your body the chance to relax you can boost your chances of conceiving.
Ultimately, if you’re having trouble conceiving, chances are it’s not the position you’ve chosen. I always recommend that couples consult their doctor before following an Internet hack.