We know how awkward it can be to discuss embarrassing sex questions with your doctor. So to help save your blushes, fertility expert Zita West answers the top ten most common questions she is asked by couples trying to conceive…
1 Does a woman need to orgasm to conceive?
No, not at all. An estimated 50 to 80% of women struggle to orgasm during sex, but there are plenty of women still getting pregnant. I will say that the odds are slightly in your favour if you do manage to orgasm as the muscles involved help to propel sperm towards the egg so it progresses quicker. But as a whole, do not worry that a lack of orgasm is the reason you’re failing to get pregnant.
2 Can oral sex improve your chances of falling pregnant?
No, it’s important to avoid oral sex during and around ovulation. Saliva contains enzymes and other agents that can damage sperm and hinder their journey towards the egg. If oral sex is something you enjoy as a couple, then by all means keep doing it – but avoid the fertile window.
3 How often do I need to have sex to stand a chance of conceiving?
Three to four times a week is perfect for getting a good supply of sperm during fertile times. When trying to conceive, I ask patients to focus less on when the egg is released, and more on how much sperm is available. Sperm lives for three to five days, so regular sex will ensure there is a constant supply and therefore maximum potential for conception to take place.
4 What is the best sexual position for getting pregnant?
Men in particular worry that they need to be penetrating deeply to improve their chances. Women on the other hand are more interested in whether certain positions will help the sperm stay inside them. The truth is, it doesn’t matter one little bit. Any position is good, providing you’re relaxed, comfortable and enjoying the moment together.
5 Can you have too much sex to get pregnant?
When trying for a baby, you can never have too much sex. A lot of women worry that, by having too much sex, they are reducing the amount of sperm available or affecting its quality. In fact, the opposite is true. If a man stores up his sperm it will come out in greater quantity, but a lot of it will be dead. Sex also releases a lot of fertility friendly hormones in both men and women, so if you’re trying for a family, more is better.
6 Is it OK to use lubricants and gels when trying for a baby?
It’s best to avoid using a lubricant if you can, although for some women who suffer with vaginal dryness, this is not possible. If sex is uncomfortable without a vaginal lubricant it’s important to make sure that you are using a safe one that is not going to affect the sperm’s ability to swim through the cervix to reach the egg – there are many sperm friendly lubricants on the market.
7 How do I stop fluid running out of my vagina after sex?
To an extent you can’t, but that’s completely normal. Women worry that flow-back means the sperm is coming out of them, and therefore not reaching the egg. Don’t panic. Sperm are generally good swimmers and will pass through cervical secretions very quickly after ejaculation. There will always be some residual seminal fluid containing weaker sperm left in the vagina. This will run out of the woman’s vagina about 10-15 minutes after sex, regardless of what position was adopted. Having said this, it makes sense to lie flat for about 20 minutes and avoid wiping inside the vagina or washing immediately.
8 Do you need passion to conceive?
For men, more testosterone is produced in the morning. It has been proven that sperm is healthier when more testosterone is present, so having sex first thing could improve your chances, despite it conflicting with busy schedules and ideals.
9 What is the best fertility gadget to increase my chances of conception?
A lot of women swear by ovulation kits, apps and measuring basal body temperature. That’s fine, although they should be used alongside an understanding of how your cervical secretions change during your fertile time. Fertility gadgets also present the danger of making you more obsessive and conscious of the fertility process, and therefore adding to your stress levels.
10 Is my partner right to worry about how long he lasts?
Men often have a lot of pent up anxieties surrounding their performance in the bedroom and how this will affect their fertility. How long they last, what size they are, how much sperm they produce. None of this will make a difference in making a healthy baby.
11 ‘My partner seems to be avoiding sex and when we have sex he can’t finish. What can I do?’
Anxiety around fertility is a perfectly normal and natural feeling, for men as it is for women. The way in which some women constantly track and monitor their fertility can put pressure on their men, especially around the time of ovulation. The woman focuses on her fertile time, her anxiety goes up, she tells her partner to ‘come home immediately’, his anxiety goes up, and so on. Sound familiar?
ZITA WEST’S TIPS TO TO REDUCE STRESS WHILE TRYING FOR A BABY
If trying to conceive is giving your partner performance anxiety, then here are my top tips:
1. Don’t feel like you need to tell your man every little detail about your cycle – at the end of the day, it’s a passion killer!
2. Try talking to each other properly about how you can get past this hurdle together, or, if you can’t, seek couples counselling
3. For a man to be able to perform, he needs passion, and scheduling your sex life and giving him specific times when he needs to be home can ruin that, so try to come up with a plan together on how to manage this. It can be hard to have fun and be romantic all the time, but it’s important to try and take the pressure off in any way you can.
4. For many men with performance anxiety, it’s present for a short period of time – such as during the time that you are trying for a baby. But for others, it can be a sign of something underlying. Don’t be afraid to go to your GP, just to make sure everything is okay.
5. Don’t take your temperatures month after month it is a constant reminder that you are trying for a baby and waking up to a bleep every morning becomes very wearing. You may want to try for a couple of months to familiarise yourself but no longer. Temperatures change if you have had late night a cold alcohol etc.
6. Don’t text your man at work telling him it’s your fertile time – it’s only adding pressure.
7. Consider putting aside your fertility kit. A lot of women swear by ovulation kits, apps and measuring basal body temperature. And while that’s fine – although they should be used alongside an understanding of how your cervical secretions change during your fertile time – fertility gadgets also present the danger of making you more obsessive and conscious of the fertility process, and therefore adding to your stress levels, and his too.
You can find more by Zita West at zitawest.com, or you can make an appointment to visit the Zita West Clinic (020 7224 0017), where Zita and her team specialise in natural fertility and IVF as well as working with couples who have already had failed IVF cycles.
This story is part of Fertility Diaries, an ongoing series covering all aspects of fertility.
We launched it thanks to an overwhelming response to Metro.co.uk’s Fertility Month, a month-long series of content that we published across November.
Across four weeks, we spoke to people at all stages of the fertility journey as well as doctors, lawyers and fertility experts who shed light on the most important issues.
The feedback we received has been uniformly positive.
We talked to so many women and men who had the courage to share their stories with us and who told us how much it helped them to hear stories from others.
We had dozens of stories flooding our inbox every day throughout the month. As a result, we simply did not have time to tell all of the stories.
For that reason, we have decided to continue our fertility month as Fertility Diaries and we will continue to publish articles – and to tell your stories – under this tag.
If you have any feedback on the content or your own story to tell, please do get in touch at [email protected]
You can find all Fertility Diaries content here and a selection below.
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