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Let's Talk About Sex

I remember watching All My Children as a young girl in my great-grandmother’s house. It was a small black and white television, but on it was a couple trying to get pregnant. After having sex, the woman spent the rest of the episode lying on a bed with her hips elevated on a pillow. When did sex get so complicated?

Trying to do the right thing can make couples go crazy with all the advice. Have you tried standing on your head afterwards? Raising your pelvis? We’ve all heard it, and much more.

Here is a simple guide on the do’s and dont’s of Timed Intercourse, so that you can calm your mind. We have highlighted the things that matter so that you can let all the other suggestions wash away.

1 . Should we have sex every day?

No. Men make sperm every day, but having intercourse daily has been shown to decrease the amount and quality of his sperm. In addition, sperm survive for up to 72 hours inside a woman’s body. Plan to have intercourse during your peak fertility window every other day.

2. When should we have sex?

Your peak fertility window is prior to and during ovulation. In a classic 28-day cycle, a woman ovulates on cycle day 14. The exact day that you ovulate can vary from month to month, and this is important to know. However, without this prior information, start having intercourse on cycle day 10, and continue every other day until ovulation and for one session of intercourse after ovulation. For example, if you ovulate on cycle day #15,
begin intercourse on day 10 and continue on day 12, 14, and 16.

3. How should I detect when I ovulate?

Ovulation predictor kits are the best way to detect when you actually ovulate in real time. Basal body temperature charting also informs you of ovulation, but your temperature rises after ovulation has already occurred. Therefore, it is difficult to use to plan intercourse in a given cycle. Luteal phase (or Cycle day 21) progesterone blood levels lets you know whether you ovulated or not, however, it does not tell you when you ovulated.

For women that have a typical 28-35 day cycle, start using ovulation predictor kits to test on cycle day 10 and continue until you get a positive result.

4. Are there certain positions that improve the sperm’s ability to find the egg?

No. There are no positions that improve pregnancy rates and there are also no positions which predict the gender of the baby. Further, there are no successful ways of processing sperm that improve the ability to detect the gender of the baby.

5. How long should we have sex before getting help?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, if a woman is less than 35 years old, couples can try for a year, if no complicating factors are known. Complicating factors include low sperm count, blocked fallopian tubes, fibroids, irregular menstrual cycles and known family history of early maternal menopause. If a woman is 35 or older, the couple can try for 6 months before seeking help with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. For a woman 40 years of age or older, it is appropriate to immediately seek help from a reproductive endocrinologist.

Now you’re ready! One of the most important things to remember is to keep this stress free and fun, which is not easy to do. Remember that there are many benefits to refreshing and maintaining a good relationship with your partner. And always try to remember why you wanted to start a family with your partner.

Dr. Danielle Lane Danielle E Lane, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist

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