If you’re trying to conceive, chances are you’re thinking a lot more about sex than usual. How often should you be having it? What if you might be in the implantation phase? And of course, what to do after sex to conceive faster. There are so many tips out there you’ll find online or hear from friends, from not peeing after sex to literally standing on your head once the deed is done. The question is, do any of them actually work?
What to do after sex to conceive
So, is there anything you can do right after sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant? Experts agree the answer is no, not really. Some of the most common questions they hear from their patients — like Should I lay down after having sex if I want to conceive? and Can I go to the bathroom after sex while TTC? — aren’t actually based on data, usually just some (not totally unsound) theories about how you can help sperm reach an egg a little bit easier.
1. Having sex in certain positions
Alas, there is no perfect sex position that will help you get pregnant faster. You might hear advice that says you should be on the bottom during intercourse instead of on top, where semen might be more likely to run back out of your body.
“It does not require gravity or a different position to make sure that the sperm is moving healthily,” says Dr. Jenna B. Friedenthal, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at Mount Sinai. “Sperm is motile on its own. If you ever look under the microscope, it has really rapid fire movement of the tails [to propel it forward]. That does not require gravity. So, you definitely don’t need to have sex in a certain position.”
2. Laying down for 10 minutes after intercourse, lying down with your legs in the air, & standing on your head
Yep, standing on your head after sex is a real tip you can find online, and something patients ask about when they visit, says Dr. Marilyn Fudge, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN at Bayfront Health. In fact, all three of these recommendations are based on thinking that keeping sperm in your body for longer gives them more of an opportunity to swim where they’re needed (and use gravity to help them get there). It’s not bad logic; there’s just no data to support that it makes a difference.
“Once an orgasm has happened and the male has ejaculated, you can get up and do whatever,” Friendenthal says. “We know that semen enters a reproductive tract sometimes as quickly as 90 seconds after a male orgasm has happened. Everything happens really, really quickly, and there is no data to suggest that laying there longer is going to change any of that.”
“There’s no proven data, whether about laying down or standing up or going to the bathroom directly after, that anything is going to change the outcome,” says Dr. Monique De Four Jones, M.D., MBA, OB-GYN and associate chief of Labor and Delivery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.
That said, Fudge says there’s no harm in trying these methods if it gives you peace of mind to know you’ve done everything you could. Just don’t attempt any headstands if you’re not confident in your acrobatic abilities.
3. Not going to pee after sex to conceive
Usually the thinking here is that peeing right after sex could wash away any lingering sperm, but the sperm that are healthy enough to get to the reproductive tract should already be there and safe from your stream, experts say.
“Not only can you pee, you should pee, because there is evidence to suggest that it reduces your risk of urinary tract infections, which are not great for you and can also in their more significant forms be associated with pregnancy complications. So yes, you absolutely should pee and you don’t need to wait a certain amount of time. Get up and go to the bathroom as soon as you’re done,” says Friendenthal.
4. Having sex multiple times a day
Sperm can hang out in the body for nearly a week waiting for an egg, so it’s just not necessary. “For the average couple, assuming they have average health and normal semen analysis, having sex two to three times a week, spaced out regularly over the course of the week, should be sufficient,” says Friedenthal. “Sperm lives in the reproductive tract for five to seven days, so if you're having sex every two to three days, you’re ensuring sperm is present in the reproductive tract at time of ovulation.”
How to increase your chances of getting pregnant
Listen, if you just want to know how to get pregnant fast, you’re not alone. OB-GYNs field this question from their patients all. the. time. There’s not really anything you can do right after sex to help you conceive. As far as fertility tips go, these docs say there are a few things you can do (outside the bedroom) that really make a difference.
1. Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss trying to get pregnant.
Setting up a visit with your OB-GYN or midwife before trying to conceive can answer a lot of your questions about the process upfront. It’s also a good opportunity to talk through your own medical history and how it might impact your fertility, says Fudge.
“The most important thing to me is, if we’re trying to get pregnant, start off by having a preconception counseling with your doctor so that you can maximize your chances of conceiving,” says Jones. She recommends tracking your period closely for three months to get an idea of how your cycles work, especially if you’ve been on contraceptives for a long time and don’t remember exactly how often your period would come. Bringing this to a preconception counseling appointment with your doctor can help them determine if you’re ovulating normally and when you should really focus on having sex to conceive.
2. Start taking a prenatal vitamin before TTC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the folic acid in prenatal vitamins is crucial for preventing major birth defects of the brain and spine that can happen as early as three to four weeks along.
“Even before you're trying to get pregnant, one thing you definitely should be doing is using a prenatal vitamin that has 400 micrograms of folic acid and iron in it. We like patients to be taking that for at least three months before you're even trying to get pregnant so that we know your folic acid level is nice and loaded before you actually do get pregnant,” says Friendenthal.
3. Have sex every day at the right time of your cycle.
Friedenthal says she has spoken to patients who are having sex every day, or multiple times a day, all month long while TTC, but you don’t have to do it that often to get the job done. But if you want to increase your chances as much as possible, she says you should have daily intercourse in the days leading up to when you ovulate.
“If you’ve been tracking your cycles and you know when you ovulate — let’s say you tend to always ovulate on cycle day 14 — to add a little extra optimization, we would tell you to have sex every day for the two to three days before ovulation happens. The goal is that we want to have sperm already present in the reproductive tract at the time of ovulation,” she says. “Ideally, it would just be the two to three days before you ovulate. And even if you’re not doing that, having sex just two to three times a week should really leave you covered.”
4. Once you ovulate, act like you’re pregnant.
After you think you might have ovulated and you're hoping that you're pregnant, act as if you are pregnant. If you’re a smoker, Friedenthal says that means you should stop smoking. She adds that having a glass of wine in the week or two before ovulation doesn’t appear lower your chances of conceiving, but once you ovulate, you should abstain from alcohol. Fudge seconds the recommendation of quitting smoking before TTC.
5. Take good care of your body.
Friedenthal says a healthy lifestyle that supports your body overall can only help your odds of conceiving. That means a nutritious diet, exercise, and again, quitting smoking.
No matter what you try (or don’t), Friedenthal says you can release yourself from the pressure that if you just do the right thing, you’ll get pregnant. In her words, it’s mostly up to biology, and the hope that an egg and sperm come together and implant. And ultimately, there’s not much anyone can do to change that process.
Dr. Jenna B. Friedenthal, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, and assistant clinical professor in the Raquel and Jaime Gilinski Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Dr. Marilyn Fudge, M.D., board-certified OB-GYN at Bayfront Health
Dr. Monique De Four Jones, M.D., MBA, OB-GYN and associate chief of Labor and Delivery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Zucker School of Medicine