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  • sexual intimacy

    Couples will try just about anything to conceive once they’ve decided that the time is right. This applies even in the bedroom, so that sex becomes somewhat of a strategic battle plan than a passionate expression of their bond. But do different sexual positions really play a role in a woman’s ability to conceive?

    With the internet bringing worldwide information at our fingertips, search engines are replacing doctor consultations. Although testimonials of women abound on internet fertility forums, there simply isn’t hard scientific evidence to back up the idea that certain sexual positions are more apt than others to make you conceive.

    From a physiological standpoint, your reproductive structures are generally fixed in place - no matter how acrobatic you may be in bed, your uterus will basically stay in place. As you reach orgasm, your vagina lengthens and the uterus straightens, resulting from muscular contractions and the pulling of attached ligaments. This facilitates the arduous journey of your partner’s “little soldiers” to find their destined egg.

    Dr. Theresa Camara, an Ob-Gyne specialist at Eastwood Medical, recommends focusing your efforts elsewhere if you’re trying to get pregnant. “The quality of the sperm, the timing of the woman’s cycle, and the health status of the woman - i.e. being free from infections, etc.- these play major roles in the ability to conceive. If you have any issues in these areas, it doesn’t matter what you do during sex - you won’t get pregnant.”

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    Conversely, this also means that no sexual maneuvers are better than others at preventing conception; so if you thought you could escape birth control methods by making a few adjustments in the sack, think again.

    Interestingly, however, despite the lack of scientific data, there seem to be a few sexual positions that are commonly discussed throughout various internet fertility forums and fertility support groups. Below are these positions, along with the most commonly listed “features” believed to create an advantage or disadvantage to conceive. Play at your own risk!

    Woman on top
    While it allows the woman to control level of penetration, many believe that it’s not conducive to conception because the sperm would have to travel against gravity to swim up towards the woman’s uterus.

    Sitting/Standing/Bending Over
    Just as with the woman on top, these positions work against gravity. But this begs the question: what if the man is standing and the woman is bent over as if to touch her toes? Wouldn’t this be in favor of gravity rather than defying it?

    Rear entry (AKA doggie-style)
    Because of the possibility of deep penetration, the penis (and therefore semen) can be moved closer to the cervix. Again, another question: what if you change the angle at which the woman is bent over (i.e. resting on hands versus stomach touching the bed, versus sitting up so man and woman face the same direction)?  

    Missionary
    Deep penetration is also possible with this favorite position, especially with all the possible orientation of the legs. Therefore, just as with rear entry, the sperm can be brought closer to the woman’s cervix, perhaps making it easier to conceive. Interestingly, this position is believed to be helpful due to the intimacy provided by face-to-face interaction.

    Lying down, post-coitus
    Though not a sexual position, many swear by this method. After the deed, lie on your back, put a pillow under your hips, and wait a few minutes (some say up to 30 minutes). The idea is to use gravity to your advantage to help the little swimmers reach the cervix. Some say that if you have a retroverted uterus, you should lay on your stomach instead.

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    At the end of the day, there is no general harm in trying various sexual positions. Why not have fun with it? In fact, emotional states and stress levels can influence chances of conception. A 2000 study in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that 55% of previously infertile women who participated in a mind-body infertility program, which consisted of workshops in mindfulness, meditation, yoga, humor, relationship-building and spirituality, were able to conceive within six months after completing the program, compared to only 20% of the control group who did not participate in a mind-body program. Furthermore, it’s a well-known fact that prolonged stress can lead to higher levels of the hormone cortisol which, over time, can throw off the male and female sex hormones - testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone - delaying ovulation and possibly decreasing sperm count.

    Dr. Camara recommends testing for hormonal imbalance as well when assessing fertility issues. “Hormonal imbalance can certainly impact chances of conception,” she adds. In addition to mind-body programs, a more holistic approach called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is reported to help address psychological issues that may be hampering your ability to get pregnant.

    No matter the approach, a positive attitude certainly won’t hurt. So go ahead, turn off the computer and dust off your Kama Sutra.  

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    Photo from flicker creative commons

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