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The Best Positions for Conception

Feb 22, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

When you’re trying to conceive, it is worth giving anything a go which you think will boost your chances. This includes considering that there may be better sexual positions for getting pregnant. But, bear in mind that the human race has been around for over 200,000 years and most of us were probably conceived without our ancestors investing too much thought into mechanics.

Science has proven that successful  conception  isn’t so much about sexual position as the frequency of sex between a fertile couple. Basically, if you want to get pregnant, don’t use contraception and have frequent, active, and enjoyable sex. Importantly, don’t stress too much about whether you’re doing it the right way. Women can, and do, conceive in any position. Nature has a way of making sure of that.

But what about the missionary position?

There are lots of fallacies about the missionary position being the best position for getting pregnant. With the woman on her back and her partner on top, it is thought that gravity will assist the sperm to swim upwards towards the egg. But this only applies if each of the woman’s reproductive organs are positioned in their perfect locations. Some women have a retroverted uterus, which means that instead of tilting forwards, their uterus and cervix are positioned more towards their back. This can mean that the sperm needs to work harder to swim through the cervix and into the uterine cavity. Any number of sexual positions won’t change the way a woman’s organs are located in her pelvis.

Sexual positions which may help with getting pregnant

The rear entry position may have a slightly better advantage when it comes to conceiving. Especially if the woman lies on her front for a while after the man has ejaculated. It can be useful to lie on a small pillow, so her hips are tilted upwards slightly. This position fosters deep penetration, so the semen is deposited very close to the cervical opening. But this position is uncomfortable for some women; it causes them pain and cervical tenderness.

Even if your focus is on trying to conceive, it still helps to relax and enjoy sex. Feeling tense because you're in pain is unlikely to help your chances of conceiving. Remember, it’s important to feel comfortable and positive about your chances of conceiving.

How does conception happen?

It’s important to maintain a realistic approach to conceiving. All it takes is one sperm to successfully fertilize an egg, unless there is a multiple pregnancy, of course. Every sperm has one agenda—to get to the egg first. Having to swim upwards or downwards, across or sideways, is unlikely to make much of a difference.

Sperm are amazingly resilient little creatures, capable of living for up to 5 days after they have left the man’s body, but they don’t survive on the outside for very long. Once they have swum their way through the woman’s cervix and into her uterus, their single goal is to keep swimming towards the fallopian tubes, which is where fertilization usually occurs. So, although it may help in the immediate post sex period to have a little nap, being flat on your back for days would not only be uncomfortable, but unrealistic as well. Sperm really can and do have a habit of looking after themselves.

Although these suggestions are unlikely to boost your chances of conceiving, they are unlikely to hurt either.

What might help to conceive?

  • Aiming for the man to ejaculate as deeply as possible into the woman's vagina. This means that the smallest amount of semen escapes and is retained as close to the cervix as possible.
  • The woman can try lying on her back with her lower back elevated on a small pillow for around 20 to 30 minutes. This will help to tilt the vagina backwards, so the semen pools around her cervix. There is some disagreement about whether this is an effective strategy or not. But it does not seem to do any harm either.
  • Avoid standing up immediately after having sex. Gravity causes the semen to leak from the vagina. Staying flat can help to keep it in.
  • Some women believe that avoiding going to the bathroom to urinate straight after sex helps them to conceive. Whether this is true or not is open to debate, though it does support the theory of lying down for a while after sex.
  • Side lying also fosters deep penetrative sex. Use pillows to tilt your pelvis so that your vagina is tilting downwards.
  • Try putting your knees or legs up after sex to boost gravity’s influence. Some women swear that their chances of conceiving were helped by placing their legs upwards on the wall next to their bed.

What doesn’t help to conceive?

  • Having sex while standing or sitting up. In either of these positions gravity will be working against you and the semen is more likely to drain from your vagina.
  • Using contraception. As simple as it sounds, it’s important for both of you to stop using all forms of contraception if you’re trying to conceive.
  • When the male does not ejaculate into the woman’s vagina. In order for the sperm to find their way to the egg, they need to be deposited as close as possible to the cervix. Simple but true.
  • Having irregular or infrequent sex.
  • Making sex a chore with only one focus: to conceive a baby. It can be a real turn off to some partners if they feel their sole focus is simply to become a sperm donor. Keep a sense of balance about the whole conception issue and don’t let it eclipse everything else that is going on in your life.
  • When the egg is no longer fertile. There is a window of time, around 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, when the egg is most fertile. If you miss this, then you’ll need to wait for another month at least to maximize your chancing of conceiving.
  • Worrying and feeling tense. It’s important to enjoy sexual relationships and be as relaxed as possible. When you’re trying to conceive it’s likely you’ll be watching your cycles but where possible, maintain a sense of fun and pleasure.
  • Sexual positions where the woman is on the top. Remember, gravity is your best friend when you’re trying to conceive, other than your partner of course.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.