When trying to conceive, it's common to implement some old wives' tales you've heard in order to get a positive result on the pee stick. There are many myths about increasing the odds of getting pregnant, from wearing socks when doing the deed to having sex during a full moon. One common "trick" is to skip the bathroom post sex, as it's said that your partner's sperm has a better chance of reaching your egg if you hold it in. But what if you really have to go? Should you pee after sex if you're trying to get pregnant?
The answer is... probably? On the one hand, "going to the bathroom after sex does absolutely nothing to lower your chances of getting pregnant," according to Planned Parenthood. So you can still become pregnant even if you pee right after. And you may want to. "You should pee right after sex regardless if you're trying to get pregnant otherwise you are at risk of a UTI," Dr. Leah Millheiser, OB-GYN, tells Romper.
On the other hand, when you're TTC, sometimes it's worth trying every little trick in the book. That's why Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN, tells Romper that a "best of both worlds" approach might be the way to go. “What I would say is why not compromise: Lie down for about 15 minutes — which is all it should take for the quickest guys, which are the healthiest sperm, to make it up into the cervix — and then pee, which will be in plenty of time. And of course, keep drinking water!"
Planned Parenthood also reported that, "once the semen goes into the vagina, there’s nothing you can do to get it back out again." So, peeing isn't going to make the sperm come out and decrease your ability to get pregnant. But does the sperm need help traveling?
The answer is no. You do, however, have to consider the amount of sperm a man can make and that not all of them get to finish line. In his study, The Mechanisms Of Sperm Motility, Dr. Charles Lindemann found that the average man produces 180 million sperm per ejaculate. It takes five to 68 minutes for the sperm to get to the point where they need to go to fertilize the egg. This is why women do not become pregnant with 180 million babies — the journey is long, and not all the swimmers are viable.
"Ejaculated sperm remain viable for several days within a woman's reproductive tract," according to Mayo Clinic. Therefore, many women think staying horizontal could help the swimmers get where they need to go with more accuracy and give every last sperm a chance. I was one of those women who thought holding your pee and inverting your body would get the sperm to travel more efficiently. The efficiency was questionable, but I can tell you that it was fun to try.
It's important to listen to Millheiser and your body — if you have the urge to pee after sex, then pee. Your health is important in your journey to getting pregnant, and a UTI could infringe upon that. But if you can wait just a moment, cuddling with your partner could give every last sperm a slightly better chance to travel to the egg. As Very Well Family advised, "if you're trying to conceive faster, you may want to at least try lying on your back after sex for a few minutes." Or, you know, do like I did and invert your body to get more creative in the process.
Gravity doesn't impede pregnancy, so you can and should get up to pee when you have to. Remember, there are millions of sperm looking for their chance with your egg. But when you're trying to conceive, it's OK to give thought to all the old wives' tales when considering the facts, too.
Dr. Leah Millheiser, OB-GYN and clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford Medicine
Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB-GYN, clinical professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine
Lindeman, C. (2010). The Mechanisms of Sperm Motilityy. The Oakland Journal. Retrieved from https://files.oakland.edu/users/lindeman/web/spermfacts.htm
This post was originally published on 5/22/17. It was updated on 9/6/19.
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