If you and your partner are trying to conceive, what haven’t you Googled to try and figure out what helps and what hurts your chances? If online forums are any indication, many people are curious about how female masturbation affects ovulation. With so many varying opinions about how often men should or shouldn’t masturbate while TTC, what about women?
For starters, there’s a lot of information online about how often men should (or shouldn’t) be having sex, to either increase their sperm count or not decrease it too much. VeryWell Family suggested sex no more than once a day, while AvaWomen.com recommended once a day, every other day, or more than once per day depending on sperm count. In any case, your partner probably isn’t masturbating while you’re ovulating in order to save up sperm, but should your routine change, too?
“Female masturbation is not associated with ovulation and should not have an effect, either positive or negative, on the chances of ovulation occurring,” says Danielle Jones, M.D., OB-GYN at Baylor Scott & White Health, in an interview with Romper. “There have been no primary links scientifically shown between masturbation and fertility in general.”
Women who are trying to conceive may have noticed that, when you’re logging your daily temperature and whether or not you did the deed, your pregnancy app asks whether you orgasmed during sex. If an orgasm can help you conceive, wouldn’t learning what you enjoy by masturbating, you know, lead to more of those? Turns out the orgasm equals baby thing isn’t scientifically credible, but is just a really persistent myth.
“No good studies actually currently support a link between orgasm and increased chance of conception. Although we have some studies that support orgasm may enhance sperm transport to the tubes, likely due to the effects of oxytocin on the uterus, this has not been identified to correlate significantly with fertility or pregnancy chances,” Jones explains.
So, if masturbating isn’t going to speed up your ovulation, maybe it falls down your list of priorities while TTC. But, if you find that a little alone time makes you more excited to get intimate with your partner later, then maybe it will help your fertility, albeit indirectly.
“Although we don't know of a specific link between orgasm and conception, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that those who enjoy and achieve orgasm will be sexually active more often if they are able to enjoy and achieve orgasm with their partner,” says Jones. “As far as masturbation, an understanding of your own body and what leads to sexual pleasure for an individual is a positive thing and can improve pleasure during sex with a partner as well.”
If you’re trying to boost your fertility these days, Jones says there are things that can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
“As far as optimizing natural fertility, the best thing we can do is have frequent — and hopefully enjoyable — intercourse, avoid tobacco, and keep alcohol and caffeine intake to a reasonable amount. One to two drinks per day and moderate caffeine consumption are both associated with slight decreases in conception chances. And maintain an active and healthy lifestyle that optimizes nutrition and maintains a healthy, normal body weight,” she says.
As for how masturbation fits into your pregnancy journey, it may not get you there any faster. But, if it’s something you enjoy, there’s also no reason to stop. In fact, Planned Parenthood stated that “masturbation has a number of physical and mental health benefits,” like reliving stress and physical tension, which is why some people use it to help them fall asleep. The site added that some women even use masturbation to stop menstrual cramps, and an orgasm can actually act as a natural painkiller.
“I think the value of masturbation and orgasm are very individual,” says Jones. “The overall take-home is that female masturbation shouldn't be shameful or taboo. It's a normal part of life for many people.”