A Complete Guide to Baby Making Sex

How and when to have sex when you're trying to conceive

Baby making isn't complicated if you and your partner are healthy and fertile. The most important thing is to have sex when you're most fertile, which is right before ovulation. This is typically mid-cycle, and around week two to three of your menstrual cycle in those with regular ovulation. There are a variety of ways to detect this time.

Couples hoping to have making a baby sex often have questions beyond timing. Learn more about baby making sex, including if there is a difference between sex for fun and conception sex, whether position matters, how often to have sex, whether it helps to lie down afterward, and the role of female orgasm in fertility.

How to Make a Baby

When it comes to making a baby, there are a number of factors come into play. The first of which is that you need to have sex when you are ovulating. You also may want to have sex more frequently. While some couples choose to have sex every day, three to four times a week could be frequent enough. As for position and lying down afterwards, there is no research that suggests that one position if more conducive over another. And, there is limited evidence that lying down afterwards helps with sperm mobility although researchers do note it might help.


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Best Time for Conception Sex

Timing is critical when you're trying to conceive. Many of us got the impression in school that sex any time can get you pregnant. This isn't entirely true. You are more likely to get pregnant from sex that occurs on just three days out of the month. At most, you are potentially fertile for seven days each month.

If you're experiencing ovulation signs, this is the ideal time to have sex to get pregnant. You can detect ovulation using a number of methods, including ovulation predictor kits, basal body temperature charting, or cervical mucus tracking.

What if you don't have any ovulation signs? You may not be ovulating. This is a possible cause of female infertility.

How Often Couples Should Have Sex

Another common question is how often you should have sex to get pregnant. Some couples go all out and have sex every day, all month. If you're into that, it's usually OK. In fact, it's usually a good idea for your relationship to make sure you're having sex when you're not ovulating, so that sex doesn't simply become a conception machine.

But most people get tired of this schedule, especially if it takes longer than a few months to conceive. Plus, sex every single day may be a problem if your sperm count is low.

Having sex three to four times a week all month long is a good plan. While you can't get pregnant from sex after ovulation, there may be other benefits to sex during this non-fertile time.

Does Sex Position Matter?

The position doesn't matter that much for baby-making sex. As long as ejaculation happens as close as possible to the cervix, it's good enough. However, there is some debate on whether or not the missionary position (man on top) may be best.

Truthfully, you can have sex in any position. Variety may help improve your sex life, and that can help you cope better with the stress of trying to conceive.

Does Lying Down After Sex Help?

Some couples wonder if lying down after sex may help you conceive, thinking that if you remain horizontal for awhile, the sperm will have a better chance of getting to their destination.

It takes sperm between 2 and 10 minutes to travel up from the cervix to the fallopian tubes (which is where they will meet the egg.) However, this movement occurs regardless of whether you're standing up, lying down, or standing on your head.

No one is certain whether lying down after sex helps, however, there has been some research on IUI (intrauterine insemination) treatment that indicates it might be helpful. If you want to try it, remain on your back for just 15 minutes after sex. That is more than enough time.

How Female Orgasm Impacts Baby Making

The female orgasm is not required for baby making, and plenty of women conceive without it. But could it help? The research isn't clear, but some studies indicate it just may give sperm a boost.

One theory is that female orgasm helps move the sperm up from the cervix to the fallopian tubes. Another is that orgasm makes you feel sleepy, which increases your odds of remaining horizontal after sex (which may or may not help with conception—see the information just above this!)

The Truth About Lubricants Like KY Jelly

Personal lubricants with spermicide are an obvious no-no when it comes to conception sex. What about the regular lubricants? Unfortunately, lubricants like KY Jelly are not sperm-friendly.

This is an especially important issue, since couples dealing with infertility may experience stress during sex, which means fewer arousal fluids. Plus, hormonal imbalance can lead to less cervical mucus.

The good news is there are fertility-friendly lubricants available. Some of the more popular brands include Pre-Seed, Conceive Plus, and Astroglide TTC. You could also use plain (no fragrance) baby oil.

How to Cope With Having Sex on Demand

As part of fertility treatment, you may be told when to have intercourse ("doctor prescribed sex"). If you're taking Clomid, your doctor will help you choose the best days to boost conception.

Your doctor may tell you to use an ovulation predictor kit at home. Alternatively, she may detect your most fertile days for you by using ultrasound and blood work to predict ovulation.

This can be very stressful for a couple. Some men may experience performance anxiety. To cope, consider making a date of your "scheduled sex," maintaining a sense of humor about the situation, and being patient with one another.

How to Improve Your Sex Life

Trying to conceive can change your sex life, often for the worse if you’re trying for several months (or years). You may feel alone and frustrated.

You should know that having trouble with sex when trying to conceive is common. There are things you can do, though to improve your sex life.

What If Sex Hurts?

Between 30% and 50% of women will experience painful sex sometime during their life. Sex shouldn't be painful. If it hurts, something is wrong. Surprisingly, only 1 in 4 women will ever tell their doctor about their pain.

What should you do if you want to get pregnant but sex hurts? What causes sexual pain? Could it harm your fertility?

You should talk to your doctor if sex is painful. Painful sex not only interferes with your relationship and ability to get pregnant but can be a symptom of a serious problem.

If sex is so painful that sexual intercourse isn't possible, there are other options for conception. But first, talk to your doctor and have a thorough exam. Pain is often our body's way of telling us that something isn't right. Listen to what it is saying.

A Word From Verywell

If you're having sex to make a baby, the most important step is timing. We're not entirely sure if sexual position makes a difference, if female orgasm makes a difference, or if it helps to lie down afterward.

There are a number of ways to figure out your most fertile days and aim for those. If you're not getting pregnant and are starting to get anxious, talk to your doctor. And don't forget that sex without the intention of making a baby is important as well.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. King R, Dempsey M, Valentine KA. Measuring sperm backflow following female orgasm: a new method. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2016;6:31927. doi:10.3402/snp.v6.31927

  3. Cunningham F, Corton MM, Leveno KJ, Bloom SL, Hoffman BL. Williams Obstetrics. New York: McGraw-Hill Education Medical; 2014.

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.