So you want to get pregnant. This intense desire can lead partners to all sorts of things — science-backed or not — to fast-track conception. This includes investing in tech to pin down the exact moment of ovulation, switching from boxers to briefs (or was it the other way around?), or cutting out foods and beverages associated with low sperm counts. Then there is the sex itself. Beyond the deeply-founded beliefs of your crunchy neighbors, are there really positions guaranteed to stick a bun in the oven?
Not exactly. There’s more anecdote than fact surrounding sex positions and pregnancy, says Dr. Donnica Moore, a leading women’s health expert. But there is a glimmer of hope: “Many experts believe that the odds of conception increase if the sperm is deposited as close to the cervix as possible,” says Moore. And there are a few positions that could help with that.
These are hardly exotic or acrobatic positions. The first one Moore and obstetrics experts tend to recommend is plain, old missionary. This oh-so vanilla position gives a male-bodied partner the ability to thrust deep and ejaculate right by the cervix, which in most women will be downhill from the penis, allowing gravity to give your swimmers an assist on their epic journey. (The inclination to work with gravity also leads many experts to recommend that women stay prone, perhaps with their hips slightly elevated, for a few minutes after their male-bodied partner ejaculates in them, like Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski. It should be noted this too has no scientifically proven value.)
Those so inclined can make all sorts of slight adjustments to the missionary template with an eye towards deeper penetration or a greater downhill vaginal canal gradient to the cervix. Think: lifting or splaying one or both of the woman’s legs or angling between them in whatever pretzel-y way a male-bodied partner can, or propping up their hips on some pillows. Basically, whatever variations a couple can wriggle into comfortably.
“Some people advocate that doggy style may be preferable,” said Moore, “because it allows for deeper penetration” than even missionary. Many men swear by such rear-entry positions for powerful orgasms, she notes, which could help move sperm towards the cervix. There are near-infinite variations on this position as well, from laying a woman down on the bed rather than having them on all fours to more acrobatically having them or the male partner hoist their hips up and tilt their bodies down during the act.
Moore and company tend to stop at missionary and doggy style, but more experimental couples can keep the principles in mind with more advanced positions. For the athletic type — okay, very athletic type — this might involve the woman doing a handstand in a wheelbarrow formation with their partner thrusting directly down from above. For the kinky, hoists, straps, and suspension rods offer a number of possibilities that help get the sperm in deep and heading down towards the cervix.
On the flip side, couples looking for that potential marginal fertility boost may want to avoid positions that involve thrusting upwards towards the cervix and that would allow to pull sperm down and away from it after an ejaculation. That’d cover pretty much every standing and female-on-top positions.
This doesn’t mean that even the most eager couple should wholly eschew those positions. After all, says Moore, the benefits of getting sperm as close to the cervix as possible and tilting it downhill upon ejaculation are logical, not scientifically proven. And they may not even apply to all couples. A fair number of women have cervixes that tilt just so, such that they could negate these potential benefits, conditions about which they are unlikely to know.
In the end, says male fertility specialist Martin Bastuba, the best position is any that gets a man inside of a woman when they’re ovulating. It doesn’t hurt to choose a comfortable and reliably hot position either, given how important it is to be as stress free, and ideally as aroused, as possible when trying to conceive. “It’s not that he needs to become the Great Wallenda on the trapeze,” says Bastuba, “although… that might be fun.”