There are countless old-wives' tales about being pregnant, determining the sex of your baby, going through labor, and pretty much every other aspect of growing a tiny human in your uterus. And it's no wonder; pregnancy is so fraught with expectation that people have to find ways to believe everything is going to go exactly how they want it.
The same can be said of getting pregnant. Actively trying to have a baby can be very stressful, so many people will do whatever they can to increase their odds, even if that means following a few not-scientifically-sound old wives' tales, says Sherry Ross, MD, women's health expert and author of She-ology.
One of the ways people try to increase their odds of conceiving is through certain sex positions. Seemingly through common sense alone, many people say that positions that allow for deeper penetration, like missionary or doggy style, give you an advantage because it means the penis (and therefore the sperm that comes out of it) will be closer to the cervix (and the egg). The idea is that sperm will have a shorter distance to travel to the egg, kind of like giving them a head start.
It makes such intuitive sense, that even some doctors say deep-penetration sex positions (which include any position from behind) might help. At the very least, it can't hurt, Dr. Ross says. "If it has even a small chance of increasing your odds, it's all for the greater good of baby making," she says.
Yet other doctors, like Jessica Shepherd, MD, an Ob/Gyn in Chicago, say that there's no point in trying a new sex position purely for the sake of getting pregnant. "As much as we'd like to think that positioning helps, there's no prescribed sex position that will get someone pregnant," she says. Once a penis is inside a vagina, it's already pretty close to the cervix, Dr. Shepherd says. And getting a tiny bit closer isn't going to significantly increase the odds of pregnancy. "The purpose of sperm is the get to that egg. As long as they're in the neighborhood, there's a chance of getting pregnant," she says.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't try new sex positions for other reasons. Switch up your sex position for fun or to make baby-making sex feel less like work and more like an intimate night with your partner. But don't expect it to magically navigate sperm to egg if you've been struggling to get pregnant.
What's really important is to know when you're ovulating. "If you're trying to put sperm close to your cervix, but you're not ovulating, that's a shot in the dark," Dr. Shepherd says. "Experimenting with positions is great for enhancing your sexual life, but not for depending on fertility." So get intimate with your menstrual cycle and figure out what time of the month is optimal for having sex (no matter what position you use). And, if you're still struggling to conceive, then it might be time to see a medical professional.
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