What Is the Best Sex Position to Get Pregnant?

Separating the Myths From the Maybes

Photo illustration of couple in bed

Verywell / Photo Illustration by Ellen Linder / Stocksy

Many think that the missionary position (man on top, woman on bottom) is the best intercourse position to get pregnant. However, there's no research to back up that claim.

Any intercourse position that gets sperm near the cervix (or vagina, for that matter) can get you pregnant. Sperm will swim up the reproductive tract with or without the help of gravity.

Positions to get pregnant may include:

  • Man on top, woman on bottom (aka "missionary position")
  • Woman on top, man on bottom
  • Side-by-side
  • "Doggy style," or rear-entry
  • Edge of the bed
  • Right angle sex

That said, if the woman is lying on her back when ejaculation occurs, that may possibly improve the chances of conception. But there's no research on sexual intercourse to prove it. Creating lab conditions to study this topic would be difficult. However, there is research on intrauterine insemination (IUI treatment) that may imply that position can make a difference.

Missionary Position

Intrauterine insemination is a fertility treatment that involves taking specially washed semen and directly transferring the sperm via a special catheter to the uterus. The sperm are transferred while the person with a uterus is lying on their back.

Doctors wondered if remaining horizontal after the procedure might improve pregnancy success. In one study, they found that people who lay on their back for 15 minutes after the sperm transfer had a 27% rate of pregnancy after three cycles. Compare this to the people who got up right away after the transfer—they had an 18% pregnancy rate.

Doggy Style

Using MRI scans, researchers were able to compare which sexual position—missionary or “doggy style”—gets ejaculate closest to the cervix.

You may be surprised to hear that rear entry gets the penis closer to the ideal location to deliver sperm when compared to the missionary position. This research doesn't tell us anything about how this may affect pregnancy success. But it's assumed that ejaculation closer to the cervix would be better.

If you’re bored with missionary position, but you still want a position that may be best for conception, consider rear entry.

What Feels Best

While the actual position may not matter, how that position makes you feel might matter. For example, longer foreplay and a higher level of sexual arousal before ejaculation have been shown to increase sperm counts in some research studies. If a particular position is more of a turn-on, that may boost fertility. By how much is unknown, however.

But arousal isn't only about the person with the sperm. Female orgasm that occurs just before, during, or sometime after ejaculation has been shown in some studies to boost pregnancy rates. Positions that allow extra female simulation may be better for getting pregnant.

Taking time to bring a woman to orgasm may improve semen parameters.

Researchers wondered what the possible biological purpose of cunnilingus (oral sex) might be for reproduction. Both humans and some animals perform oral sex, which you might assume has little to do with reproduction.

However, they found that performing cunnilingus increased the volume of semen produced during later sexual intercourse. Could it be that different sexual positions that seem “less than ideal” for conception might be better? We just don’t know.

Sex when trying to conceive can begin to feel like a chore. Bedroom burnout is common. Changing sexual positions could bring renewed excitement into your sex life. Even if it doesn’t boost your odds for pregnancy, it still may be worthwhile for emotional and relationship reasons.

Things to Avoid if You Want to Get Pregnant

There is no sex position that decreases you chance of getting pregnant, but there are some things you can do that could get in the way of conception. If you use lubricant, make sure that the one you have is fertility-friendly. Some lubricants can impede sperm movement, making it harder to get pregnant. When in doubt, look for a lubricant that is designed for couples who are trying to conceive.

Although having sex frequently should do the trick, you don't want to miss your fertile window: the days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation. Track your ovulation and check your schedule. If something gets in the way of intercourse during this period of time, you are much less likely to get pregnant.

A Word From Verywell

If the missionary position just doesn't do it for you—but you're wondering if it might be better for getting pregnant—you can switch to this position just before ejaculation. Doggy style, or rear entry, may also be better for conception.

Hot sex, as it were, will not cure male infertility due to low sperm counts. If anything, it may just give the still low counts a small boost. However, keep in mind that a less-than-ideal position for intercourse is not going to cause infertility. Any position that gets semen near the cervix (or anywhere in the vaginal area) can lead to pregnancy. 

6 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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  3. Pound N, Javed MH, Ruberto C, Shaikh MA, Del Valle AP. Duration of sexual arousal predicts semen parameters for masturbatory ejaculates. Physiol Behav. 2002;76(4-5):685-9. doi:10.1016/s0031-9384(02)00803-x

  4. Puts DA, Dawood K, Welling LL. Why women have orgasms: an evolutionary analysis. Arch Sex Behav. 2012;41(5):1127-43. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-9967-x

  5. Pham MN, Jeffery AJ, Sela Y, et al. Duration of cunnilingus predicts estimated ejaculate volume in humans: A content analysis of pornography. Evol Psychol Sci. 2016;2:220. doi:10.1007/s40806-016-0057-5

  6. Steiner AZ, Long DL, Tanner C, Herring AH. Effect of vaginal lubricants on natural fertility: Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2012;120(1):44-51. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31825b87ae.

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.