If you aren’t getting pregnant as speedily as you’d hoped, you’ve probably spent plenty of hours researching ways to make it happen, from nutrition tricks to the best positions and times of day to have sex. Well, let us save you from falling even deeper down the Google rabbit hole and tell you this now: Unfortunately, there’s really no magic sex position that increases your odds of having a baby.
Of course, that doesn’t stop the sex position myth and a slew of other conception-related falsehoods from making the rounds. We know firsthand how hard it can be to weed out the helpful info from the total BS, especially when it comes to something as emotionally charged as pregnancy. To save us all some unnecessary headaches, we went to experts to find out the most common myths about conception (most of which are geared toward women trying to get pregnant through intercourse; so if you’re facing fertility problems or using other methods like IVF, IUI, clinical or at-home insemination, you may want to seek out other resources).
Once you stop wasting time on these unhelpful ideas, you can get to the real business of baby-making — more on that here.
Myth No. 1: You should use a fertility pillow
In case you’re not familiar with them, fertility pillows are devices that prop your legs and butt up after sex to supposedly use gravity to help sperm find your egg. There are a bunch available online, but Dr. Edward Marut, physician and IVF medical director at Fertility Centers of Illinois, says they’re a “waste of time.”
Myth No. 2: Sex positions matter
Despite what you’ve heard — and even what might appear logical — positions don’t make a difference in your odds of conceiving. “Cervical mucus during peak ovulatory time serves as a sponge for sperm — it’s sticky and stringy,” explains Dr. Sheeva Talebian, a reproductive endocrinologist with CCRM New York. “So when you have sex, cervical mucus soaks up those little swimmers and allows them to continue swimming ‘upstream’ into the uterus, towards the tubes where they can meet the egg.”
While you may notice ejaculate drain out of you after sex, Talebian says this is totally normal and doesn’t work against conception. “Once your partner ejaculates in your vaginal canal, a good portion of the sperm will get absorbed by the cervical mucus and travel upstream,” she says.
One exception: If you’re one of 30 percent of women who have a retroverted (aka tilted) uterus, a condition in which a woman’s uterus is angled backward instead of toward her belly, you may have better luck in non-missionary positions. But, says Dr. Carolyn Alexander, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at Southern California Reproductive Center, this isn’t science-based. “It’s just based on anecdotal evidence over the past decade,” she explains.
Myth No. 3: More sex is better
Makes sense in theory. The more sex you have, the better your odds of conceiving. While it’s good to have sex often when you’re trying to get pregnant, Dr. Maria Costantini-Ferrando of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey says it can actually work against you if you’re doing it too much. “While increasing the frequency of intercourse is certainly important as it increases the chances of capturing the time of a woman’s ovulation and thus peak fertility, it can be detrimental if you go too far in the other direction, as it can decrease the amount and quality of your partner’s sperm that’s available,” she says. Instead, she recommends tracking the time you ovulate (you can find an OTC ovulation kit at your local drugstore or take a blood test at your doctor’s office) to find your peak fertility and getting down then.
Myth No. 4: You should lie there for a while after sex
While a post-sex cuddle is good for your connection, lying in bed to try keeping semen inside you isn’t going to do anything for your odds of having a baby. “There’s a ton of fluid that houses sperm and this is largely what flushes out of you after sex,” Talebian says. “The sperm is a microscopic part of the fluid and is attracted to sticky cervical mucus. Therefore, if you stand up immediately after sex, you may lose some sperm, but… millions of sperm will still make it to the cervix, so it’s unnecessary.”
Myth No. 5: Orgasming increases your chances of conceiving
You may have heard that hitting a high note during sex helps somehow “push” sperm toward your egg, but… nope. “Orgasm can’t pull sperm deeper into your vagina during an orgasm,” says Marut. “Regardless of whether you orgasm or not, semen coats the whole vagina and cervix.”
Myth No. 6: You should stop exercising when you’re trying to get pregnant
“Moderate exercise won’t do any good or bad when it comes to conception,” Talebian says. Unless you’re doing such extreme exercise that you don’t ovulate every month, you’re fine to keep hitting the gym when you want to get pregnant. “Exercise is essential for cardiovascular health, which helps to maintain a safer pregnancy and avoid high blood pressure and high blood sugar,” says Alexander. Working out also helps you de-stress during a time that can get pretty stressful, she points out. But if you’re worried that you’re exercising too much when you want to conceive, talk to your doctor.
If you’ve been trying for a baby for a while and haven’t had any luck, Costantini-Ferrando says it’s best to consult a fertility specialist. “They can provide very good advice and dispel myths that can potentially hinder the process,” she says.
A version of this story was published April 2017.
Before you go, check out our bucket list of 69 sex positions to try out: