Masturbation has always been tied up in taboos and misinformation, especially for women. The stigma associated with it in addition to years of silence around the subject has led to all kinds of medical questions, like does female masturbation affect implantation of an egg?
Effects of masturbation on implantation
Let’s clear the record once and for all: “Women can rest assured that orgasm doesn’t negatively impact any component of fertility in regards to ovulation, fertilization, or implantation” says Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, board certified reproductive endocrinologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois.
“Many women share this concern with me, and I think it is important to know that if you masturbate and/or experience orgasm it will not negatively impact any component of fertility treatments or trying to conceive on your own,” says Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. That means female masturbation does not affect implantation.
“Women under age 35 who have been trying for one year or women over age 35 who have been trying for six months who have not experienced success should pursue fertility testing,” adds Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. “It's important to know that there are causes to infertility that can be determined and addressed. Knowledge, especially accurate and helpful information, is power.”
But it’s easy to see why so many might think masturbation might affect egg implantation or even be a cause of infertility. “In the context of someone completing fertility treatment, we’ve come a long way from forbidding any sexual activity leading to orgasm to promoting it to aid in conception,” Dr. Edward Marut, board certified endocrinologist with the Fertility Centers of Illinois tells Romper. “Neither is necessarily true.”
Dr. Marut says that unless there is an issue with enlarged ovaries following fertility treatment (which may not be known until the first pregnancy ultrasound), abnormal bleeding, or a pregnancy of unknown location (i.e. ectopic), there is no reason to think that orgasm by any means should be avoided, especially in a natural cycle where conception would occur without medical intervention. Pelvic rest, except in the aforementioned circumstances, is rarely warranted as well.
When to Avoid Masturbation
At most, women undergoing fertility who then have an embryo transferred to the uterus, are advised to take it easy that day. “But that is the only context where pelvic rest would be recommended,” says Dr. Marut. “For couples trying to conceive, pelvic rest would be at odds with how fertility can occur.” In other words, unless your doctor tells you to avoid it, masturbation is rarely discouraged.
Can Masturbation Help Fertility?
There’s some evidence to suggest that “women retain more sperm if coital orgasm occurs after, rather than before male ejaculation,” according to a 1998 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. So that could actually be a word of encouragement for women to include masturbation in intercourse. (And if not for the end result of pregnancy then for the possibility of pleasure alone.)
“Female masturbation cannot disturb egg implantation,” Dr. Marut says. “The embryo implants 7-8 days after ovulation or 2-3 days after a blastocyst (5-day embryo) transfer during fertility treatment,” adds Dr. Elie Hobeika, a reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois. “There are no studies that have shown that masturbation affects implantation.”
Need further convincing? Consider this: “Theoretically, there are uterine cramps that are associated with orgasm, but it is not likely that those affect the ability of an embryo to implant,” explains Dr. Hobeika. “Women who conceive naturally have intercourse concurrent to implantation and the embryo is still able to implant.” So it should work the same way for women undergoing fertility treatment.
Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, board certified reproductive endocrinologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois, fcionline.com/niaw
Dr. Edward Marut, board certified reproductive endocrinologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois, fcionline.com/niaw
Dr. Elie Hobeika, reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, fcionline.com/niaw
Singh D, Meyer W, Zambarano RJ, Hurlbert DF. Frequency and timing of coital orgasm in women desirous of becoming pregnant. Arch Sex Behav. 1998 Feb;27(1):15-29. doi: 10.1023/a:1018653724159. PMID: 9494687.
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