You’ve been tracking your ovulation - whether with tests for luteinizing hormone, basal body temperature, or cervical mucus - and you have a good idea when you are most fertile. Now it’s time to think about the actions for conception themselves. Are there times or methods for having sex that can actually improve fertility? Old time information might have you believe that the way you have intercourse makes a big difference in conception. The good news? It’s actually not as difficult to figure out as you may think.
The "Right" Sex Time to Maximize Fertility
If you’ve pinpointed your ovulation date, you might think that it’s the best time to have intercourse. But the fact is, while tracking helps to give you a good estimate, it’s almost impossible to predict the exact day of ovulation. If you’re only having sex on the predicted day of, you may actually miss your opportunity.
An egg remains viable for 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. Sperm can survive for several days and still reach and fertilize an egg. That means you should start having sex a few days before you expect to ovulate. It is actually possible to conceive if you have sex up to five days before ovulating, but you should plan to have intercourse about once a day, every day, during this window.
Cervical mucus is perhaps the best indicator of when to have sex. When it turns to the consistency of egg whites, you know that you are or very soon will be ovulating. This is the time to have sex to maximize fertility.
More tips on timing sex for optimal fertility
Knowing when you ovulate is extremely important to know when trying to pinpoint your "ideal" time for conception.
Despite what many have heard not all women ovulate on day 14 of their cycle. Women can have varying cycles that span from 24-34+ days in each cycle. Therefore the plan to "knock-boots" around day 14 of your cycle does not work out too often. To effectively know if you are ovulating, try charting your basal body temperature, using ovulation predictor s and/or a useful fertility app (for those of us with smartphones or tablets). It is recommended by many physicians to have sex right before ovulation and after ovulation to optimize your most fertile time of the month.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
To chart BBT you have to use a special thermometer that records/takes temperatures in tenths of degrees. This should be done right as you wake up in the morning as this is your basal body temperature. You can purchase these thermometers in drugstores. Right before you ovulate your BBT will increase. If you have been charting for a couple of months you will get to know your cycle's variations in BBT and it will become easier to spot this spike in BBT before ovulation. Try charting for at least 3 months to really understand your cycle.
Your body's cervical mucous changes throughout your cycle and is another way to tell where you are within it. After your period the mucous will be dry and/or sticky but will as time passes in that monthly cycle it will become slippery and stretchy (think egg-whites) when you are your most fertile.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs)
The shelves in your stores have started carrying more brands of ovulation predictor s as the market has grown. These are over the counter products that can help you determine when you are ovulating. They work by measuring the luteinizing hormone in your morning urine. Your LH will surge right before ovulation.
Clearblue and First Response have OPKs on the shelves at your local drugstore or Wal-Mart.
Have Sex However You've Like
Despite old wives’ tales about how position and technique impact pregnancy rates, the research shows that there isn’t really anyone's trick to intercourse that results in more pregnancies than any other. The only real tip is to work with gravity. Having sex while standing or sitting up could encourage semen to flow back out after intercourse before the sperm has a chance to start swimming.
Along the same line - you don’t need to put your feet up against a wall after sex. However, you may want to just lie on your back for a bit after. No research shows whether this helps for natural conception, but some studies of intrauterine insemination show an increased pregnancy rate if the woman stayed lying down for 15 minutes after sex.
Since no particular method seems to work better than the rest, feel free to change things up. One problem many couples face is feeling like sex has become stale or clinical while trying for a baby. This can contribute to stress, which can have a negative impact on fertility.
An Extra Helping Hand
If you are having trouble conceiving even with thorough tracking of ovulation, you may want to consider other options. In addition to talking to a doctor about the matter, there are over-the-counter products that may be able to help in your family planning efforts. The Stork OTC can deliver over three times a higher sperm concentration to the cervix, and it’s available to use at home without a prescription.