Lying down after sex to conceive: Is this a real thing?

Breaking down the facts and myths around getting pregnant.
Written by
Julia Hammond
Reviewed by
Last updated on
June 3, 2024
min read
Lying Down After Sex To Conceive: Is This A Real Thing? | Kin Fertility
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There's a lot of information out there about trying to get pregnant. You should lie down after sex, throw your legs up high, cut out alcohol, start taking prenatal vitamins, do it in a certain position and avoid peeing after sexual intercourse.

Only some of these are true and effective. We are here to support you for the whole pregnancy journey, which means, we're here to cut out the myths when it comes to trying to get pregnant.

Here are a few of the fakes to stop believing and tips to help you get pregnant naturally.

Does lying down after sex help conception?

Let’s get straight to the point — there's no evidence that lying down after sexual intercourse improves your chances of getting pregnant [1].

In a large, randomised study from Helsinki, participants were told to either move around immediately or rest for 15 minutes after intrauterine insemination (a procedure where semen is injected directly into the uterus).

At the end of the study, around 32% of the rested women fell pregnant, while around 40% of the movers did too. The researchers said the results were not significant enough to recommend either method [2].

Even though this procedure works differently from natural conception, the results may still stand. It takes sperm around 2 minutes to reach the fallopian tubes using any method [1]. That means those swimmers are close to the finish line before you’ve even thought about getting up.

So, where did this idea come from? An old hypothesis may be to blame. The poleaxe theory stated that women need to lie down after sex to reduce semen loss. In this theory, an orgasm is designed to make you feel sleepy, lowering the chances that you’ll get up [3].

How long should I lie down after sex?

Even though there’s no scientific evidence for lying down after sex, it won't do you harm. So, how long should you wait? In the IUI study, participants were asked to wait for 15 minutes before getting up, but even less time is fine [2].

Sperm can reach the fallopian tube (where they need to be for conceiving) within 2-10 minutes of your partner finishing. On average, it takes 5 minutes [2].

Does holding your legs up help you get pregnant?

You might have been told by the most well-intentioned family member that flipping your legs over your head or placing a pillow under the hips will make you a baby. Sorry, but this is another myth.

The idea of this one is to help sperm travel in the right direction [4]. As we said before, they don’t need your help. Those swimmers will reach the fallopian tubes in minutes.

The most important thing you can do is have sex during your fertile window, which is where timed intercourse comes in. We’ll get to that in a bit.

Should I pee after sex if trying to get pregnant?

It’s generally a good idea to pee after sex as it helps you avoid UTIs. The worry here is that you might ‘wash away’ some of the sperm and lower your chances of conception. First, peeing can’t wash out all the sperm, so you’re safe [5]. 

Second, some sperm will be rejected no matter what you do. This is known as flowback. They’re those white globs you find in your undies after sex and are made up of a mix of sperm and cervical mucus. It’s normal for a woman to eject up to 3ml of sperm after sex, usually around 30 minutes later [3].

It can happen while you’re lying down, walking around or peeing — since the force helps push them out. That’s probably why some women get worried that peeing is going to impact conception [3].

Remember, it only takes 1 sperm meeting 1 egg for conception. If too many sperm try to fertilise an egg, it can actually be a problem. Having fewer sperm inside you reduces the risks of overwhelming the egg [3].

Can certain sex positions increase your chances?

Another old wives’ tale is that certain sex positions are the golden key to making a baby. The theory goes positions that involve deep penetration, like missionary, will get the sperm as close to the cervix as possible [4].

There's no scientific evidence either way for this one, but changing up your sex position is harmless [1][4]. Doing it in a position that is comfortable and enjoyable for you is great. Plus, make sure your partner ejaculates fully inside of you as this offers the best chances of getting pregnant [4].

Positions that induce orgasm may help

Not only are orgasms delightful, but they might also have a positive effect on your conception odds. There’s another theory called the upsuck theory which says that the female orgasm is meant to pull sperm up into the cervix [3]. 

A study may have shown this to be true and it was all about timing the orgasm. Women retained more sperm if they orgasmed at the same time or within 1 minute of their partner [3].

If the idea of orgasming with your partner sounds fun, it might be worth a try but, it’s good to remember that the female orgasm is not essential for pregnancy [3]. Having unprotected sex that you enjoy at the right time of the month is all it takes.

When is the best time to get pregnant?

If lying down, throwing your legs up and even sex positions won’t help you get pregnant — then what will? Timing is everything. You need to be having sex during your fertile window. This is the day of ovulation and the 3-5 days before [6][7].

Within 12-24 hours of ovulation, your chances of getting pregnant are back to slim [7]. So, having sex just before ovulation occurs is ideal.

Sperm can survive for up to 5 days in the uterus, which means even if you haven’t ovulated yet, getting them in position early can still work [8].

How can you track ovulation?

If ovulation is the key to pregnancy, then how do you know when it’s happening? There are a few different methods [6][7]: 

Another method is to track your cycle. Ovulation happens around 14 days before your next period. If you monitor your average cycle length, then you can find the sweet spot when ovulation should occur.

For example, a woman with a 28-day cycle is most fertile from days 12 to 14, whereas a woman with a 35-day cycle is most fertile from days 19-21 [7]. 

Is there anything else you can do?

Everyone’s fertility journey is different and there are no guarantees when it comes to pregnancy. But, certain lifestyle factors can improve your overall health and chances of getting pregnant [9].

Here are a few examples:

Have plenty of sex

No, really. Having sex regularly in your fertile window increases your chances of getting pregnant. Either daily or every other day is recommended [9].

Prepare your body for pregnancy

The preconception period is 3-6 months before you get pregnant. This is a great time to make lifestyle changes that can boost fertility, reduce problems in pregnancy and help with recovery after birth [8]. 

Use fertility-friendly lube

Certain lubricants can slow down or even kill sperm, making it harder for you to get pregnant [1][9].

If you like using lube during sex, look for a product like Kin’s Fertility Lube which is designed to support conception, so you can get the intimacy you love, without reducing your chances of getting pregnant.

Cut out recreational drugs and certain prescription drugs

Recreational drug use — like cocaine, marijuana and steroids — has been linked to fertility issues in men. Stopping use is recommended ASAP [9].

There are also some prescription drugs that can reduce fertility or harm your baby [6][9]. It’s best to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about these for personalised advice.

Cut out smoking and alcohol

Smoking is known to reduce fertility for both men and women. It can also increase your risk of pregnancy complications; like stillbirths, low birthweight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It’s best to quit smoking before you plan to become pregnant [6][9]. 

Alcohol is also a risk factor. It can cause impotence, reduced libido and poor sperm quality in men. For women, it can reduce fertility and harm the baby once they become pregnant. It’s hard to know exactly when you will conceive, so the best option is to stop drinking when you start trying [6][8].

Men should avoid heat

Did you know that sperm hate being hot? If your partner’s testes overheat, it might reduce the sperm count. Wearing tight pants like bike shorts, leather and slim jeans hold the testes close to the body, trapping heat there [9].

Hot tubs, jacuzzis, saunas and a long hot shower or bath can also overheat sperm cells. For the time being, tell him to steer clear of the steam [9].

What not to do after sex? 

With a 2-minute window for sperm to reach the fallopian tubes, there is not much time for conception-killing activities [9]. But, there are a couple of things OBGYN experts suggest.

You can have a shower but don’t douche 

A nice, warming shower after sex is great. If you wash away sperm, it’s only what was outside your vagina.

But, douching is not recommended. Not only could it wash away some sperm inside you, but it’s also a risk factor for infections [5][8][9]. 

Experts don’t recommend a bath

Baths tell a different story. Soaking in water might wash away sperm in your vagina. It’s unlikely to impact your chances of getting pregnant, but if you can wait 10-15 minutes for the sperm to finish travelling, it may help [5].

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