The Best Sex Positions to Help You Get Pregnant

Is all sex created equal when it comes to conceiving? Here's what experts have to say about the best positions for getting pregnant.

Like many couples who are trying to conceive the old-fashioned way (that is, penis-in-vagina sex), you're probably wondering about the best sex position to get pregnant. Believe it or not, experts still lack conclusive evidence when it comes to answering this question.

"There's not a whole lot of science about which position is best for conception," says Sheryl A. Kingsberg, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and a professor of reproductive biology and psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

It may be more of a logistical issue than anything else. "It's very difficult to research specific sexual positions that might enhance fertility," Dr. Kingsberg says. That's partly because there are so many other important factors that affect the odds of conception, such as age and timing of the intercourse (having sex while ovulating enhances fertility, for example).

But despite lack of proof, some sex positions might provide some advantages in the baby-making department. Read on to learn about which positions may be the best sex positions to get pregnant, as well as what to do after intercourse to increase your odds of conceiving.

Best Sex Positions for Getting Pregnant
Illustration by Emma Darvick

What Are the Best Sex Positions to Get Pregnant?

These seven sex positions might increase your odds of baby-making success. But keep in mind that what's most important is keeping up a consistent routine so you are sure to have sex during your most fertile time.

"In studies about frequency of sex, there wasn't a statistical difference between rates of pregnancy for people who have intercourse every other day leading up to ovulation and those who do it every day," says Jani Jensen, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and assistant professor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Besides, trying to have it daily can be a huge chore."

1. Missionary

The few studies that looked at coital connections hint that missionary position might offer a slim anatomical advantage. The theory: In partner-on-top, the cervix can dip more easily into the vaginal semen pool, giving sperm access to the protective cervical mucus.

"There's no scientific data on that, though," explains Kelly Pagidas, M.D., a fertility specialist with Women & Infants Center for Reproduction and Infertility in Providence and an associate professor at Brown Alpert Medical School.

Plus, not all people are built the same way. "Having women on their backs makes sense for women who have an anteverted uterus, one that is tilted forward, which is about two-thirds of the population," Dr. Kingsberg notes. "But a third of women have a retroverted uterus, one that's tilted backward, so missionary wouldn't offer any advantage for them."

2. Doggy style

Some people simply don't like missionary style because it can be tiring for them. "The missionary position is more demanding for the top partner because they have to use their muscles to keep from putting their full weight on you, putting extra pressure on them," says Mindy R. Schiffman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and sex therapist at New York University's Fertility Center and in private practice in New York City.

In this case, couples can try a different position, such as doggy style. This popular sex position puts you on all fours with your partner entering you from behind. It allows for deeper penetration, which gives semen increased access to the opening of the cervix.

3. Reverse cowgirl

In this sex position, you place yourself on top, facing away from your partner's face and toward their feet. The angle allows you to control the depth of the penetration by making sure your cervix is as close as possible to the tip of the penis during ejaculation for optimal effectiveness.

4. Side-by-side scissors

When engaging in this position, the couple faces each other while lying on their sides. Not only is it romantic (which may ease the nerves involved with baby-making sex), but it also allows for deep entry.

5. Rear entry

Like doggy style, this position involves your partner entering from behind. The difference, though, is that you lie on your stomach and your partner lowers their body over yours. Rear entry is a surefire way to get deep penetration.

6. Wheelbarrow

Who says baby-making sex can't be a little adventurous? In this athletic position, you'll hold yourself up with your hands while your partner stands behind you and grabs your legs, pulling them around their thighs and entering from behind. Again, it allows for deep penetration and closeness to the cervix.

7. Your favorite position

It's more likely that the very best sex position to get pregnant is, in fact, your favorite one. It doesn't matter if you're twisted like a Bavarian pretzel or lying still as a statue, as long as your partner's semen gets to where it needs to be (in the vagina near the cervix).

And if it provides a toe-curling climax, all the better! "There was some research that a woman's orgasm did help move semen into the uterus," Dr. Kingsberg says. But that doesn't mean you should stress if you don't regularly climax during penis-in-vagina sex. "Honestly, there's so little science behind it that we don't want to put pressure on women to have to reach orgasm."

How to Improve the Odds of Conception After Having Sex

The optimal postcoital routine is another aspect of baby-making sex that's up for debate. Most experts question the advice that you should lie still on your back for 30 minutes after having sex, yet others swear by it.

One study published by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology found no statistical benefit to staying still after coitus. Actually, it found the opposite. Researchers followed 479 couples and found that 32.2% had conceived after remaining still for 15 minutes immediately after sex, while 40.3% were mobile immediately after sex had also conceived.

"We also know from other studies that sperm can reach the fallopian tube five minutes after intravaginal insemination and that they can survive for several days in the womb," Joukje van Rijswijk, Ph.D., a lead author in the peer-reviewed study, said in a press release. "Why should bedrest affect that? There is no biological explanation for a positive effect."

Our view: If you've got time to lounge, why not enjoy the afterglow? Propping yourself up on a pillow or putting your legs up the wall, however, have not been shown to make a difference. "Once the ejaculate gets inside you, the sperm is already in the cervical mucus, which works to hold sperm there for fertilization," Dr. Schiffman says.

There is one other thing factor that can influence your chances of conception: lubricant. Regular lube has been shown to negatively affect sperm survival. A review published in the journal Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that many common lubricants, including Astroglide, KY Jelly, and Replens have repeatedly been shown through testing to reduce the motility of sperm, making it more difficult to conceive. In one study, exposure to these popular lubricants took as little as 15 minutes to render the sperm immotile.

Look for products marketed as "fertility-friendly" or "sperm-friendly," which are created without the use of certain ingredients that can damage sperm. Most lubricant companies no longer use spermicides, but continue to look out for words like glycerin, parabens, silicone, Nonoxynol-9 (or N-9), propylene-glycol, and petroleum in the ingredients list.

Updated by Nicole Harris
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