It's so satisfying to have one of those questions about fertility that includes very little guesswork. Finally, we actually have definite answers! And we promise there's only a little bit of the typical “it depends on the person/situation…” wishy-washy uncertainty. So, how often should you be having sex when trying to get pregnant? Let's get into it.
How often should you have intercourse when trying to conceive?
Here’s the deal: Years of studies of thousands of people have given us scientific information: If you are trying to conceive, you should have sex *drumroll please* at least every 2-3 days during your fertile window.
So, first, we must presume that you know what we’re talking about when we say you should be having sex during your most fertile window - the time in your cycle when pregnancy can occur. To simplify things: it's usually the 6 days before the day of ovulation, which usually ends up being somewhere around day 14 of your cycle. So, if you aren’t already tracking your cycle to figure out when you are ovulating, but you’re reading this article about how to conceive, then it’s time to start keeping track.
All right, where were we? Every 2-3 days. You may be wondering, why is it flexible like that and not an exact number of days. Studies have found that couples had the highest pregnancy rates when they had intercourse every 1-2 days during the woman’s fertile window. But wait, we just told you every 2-3 days, so why would we change it? Because every day or two for around two weeks might seem like a lot, to the point of feeling like it’s a job. We’re talking about sex here! It’s supposed to be enjoyable. We all lead busy lives, and sometimes have obligations and responsibilities that we can’t dismiss. If sex is becoming a stressor, or if life is getting in the way, less often than every day or two is okay.
So, every day or two is ideal for scientific purposes. But for real-life purposes, we are saying every two to three days. Make sense?
Is there such a thing as too much or too little sex when trying to conceive?
If you're trying to get pregnant, having sex every couple of days around ovulation should be your goal. But what if you have a crazy week, or something comes up and gets in the way? What is the minimum? Don’t panic (that’s not good for fertility). The research says your pregnancy results still have good odds if you can have intercourse at least every 5 days. Waiting any longer than 5 days in between can mean lower sperm counts, which leads to lower odds.
That’s the minimum. If you are lusting after each other and hot around the collar all the time, is there such a thing as too much sex? Not really, believe it or not. It’s a common misconception that frequent ejaculations cause decreased sperm count. Large studies have shown that sperm counts and sperm motility (movement) remain steady with daily ejaculations in men with normal sperm counts.
What is the best position to get pregnant?
Is there anything special you need to do to make it “official” baby-making sex? The short answer is: nope. There is no evidence that sexual position, orgasm, or prolonged rest after intercourse increases the chance of conceiving. So, as Burger King says, you can “have it your way.”
Bear in mind…
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Here is where we put in the caveats. “I knew it!” you’re saying. Not so fast. These are just minimal common sense. If at any time, you are having pain or bleeding during intercourse, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately, as it could be a sign that something is wrong. If dryness is a problem, make sure you research fertility-friendly lubricants, as some brands can affect sperm movement and survival.
It goes without saying — except, of course, we’re saying it — that you should be cutting down on alcohol and caffeine, abstaining from smoking and drugs, and eating nutritious foods during this time.
If you need some inspiration to keep things fresh between the two of you, remember: You like each other. Right? So much that you want to have a child together. If that’s not enough to inspire, look into an app like Coral that can help you find ways to connect both inside and outside of the bedroom or take their 28 Days of Intimacy challenge.
Remember: when you're trying to get pregnant you can have sex however you like it, as often as you want it, aiming for every 2-3 days around your fertile window. Now, as Nike says, Just Do It!
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a freelance writer, infertility and women’s rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, “The 2 Week Wait,” and proud IVF Mom. Her articles have been featured in Time magazine, Huffington Post, and ScaryMommy. She has been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR, and BBC, where she has demonstrated her ability to make even reproductive issues fun and educational. You can follow her "infertility humor" on Instagram at @jennjaypal.