Lying On Your Back After Intercourse When Trying to Conceive

Does Remaining Horizontal Boost Your Odds of Getting Pregnant?

Woman relaxing on bed after sex, hoping to get pregnant
While lying down after sex isn't needed, it may help you conceive. Can't hurt to try it. Brand New Images/Iconica/Getty Images

Can lying on your back after sex help you get pregnant? Maybe. Even if you've never received advice to try it (and most couples will get this advice from someone eventually!), you've likely considered it yourself. You may have even joked about doing headstands after sex. 

It makes some sense, right? You'd think remaining horizontal will allow the sperm more time to swim.

It's actually more complicated than that...

What Happened When Women Remained Horizontal After Insemination?

There’s no research specifically on lying still after sex to back up the claim.

However, there is research on the fertility treatment intrauterine insemination (or IUI).

During IUI treatment, specially washed sperm are transferred directly to the woman’s uterus via the cervix through a thin catheter.

In one study, researchers wanted to know if IUI treatment would be more effective if the woman remained on her back for 15 minutes after the procedure.

Researchers found that the women who remained on their backs for 15 minutes after the sperm transfer had a 27% pregnancy rate after three cycles.

The women who were encouraged to get up right after the treatment had an 18% pregnancy rate after three cycles.

Remaining horizontal did improve pregnancy rates.

How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant After Sex Anyway?!

The results of the IUI study above were surprising to the researchers.

Previous research implied that sperm are fast swimmers, so it shouldn't matter if the woman got up right away. 

Just how quickly do sperm swim? And how soon after could pregnancy occur?

Some studies found that sperm takes between 2 and 10 minutes to travel from the cervix through to the fallopian tubes (where they hope to meet an egg.)

This is regardless of gravity. They will swim "up" through the uterus whether you're on your feet or standing on your head.

In case you're curious, how soon after sex can you conceive? It really depends on whether you've already ovulated yet or not. 

If the egg is there and waiting, you might conceive minutes after sexual intercourse.

However, sperm can survive inside the female reproductive system for days. Sex you had four days earlier can lead to pregnancy after ovulation. 

How Long Should You Lie on Your Back? What If You Need to Get Up?

With IUI, the sperm get a helpful push ahead into the uterus. But even with the push, lying down afterwards seemed to boost pregnancy rates.

Perhaps it is a good idea to lie still for about 15 minutes after sex.

That being said, don't stress over it.

The research was on IUI, not sex. For all we know, lying on your back after intercourse may not make any difference.

If you do want to try it, don't feel like you need to lie there longer than 15 minutes.

You certainly don’t need to try anything nutty, like standing on your head! 

Also, don't get the idea that standing up right after sex can prevent pregnancy. (It won't.) Even if you had sex and then jumped up and down right away, the sperm will swim up, and you can get pregnant.

If you need to use the bathroom right after sex (especially if you get frequent urinary tract infections), get up and go ahead. You’re not going to ruin your chances of conception.

Remember that 18% of the women in the IUI research group who got up right away still got positive pregnancy results.

More on infertility, trying to conceive, and sex:


Custers IM, Flierman PA, Maas P, Cox T, Van Dessel TJ, Gerards MH, Mochtar MH, Janssen CA, van der Veen F, Mol BW. “Immobilisation versus immediate mobilisation after intrauterine insemination: randomised controlled trial.” British Medical Journal. 2009 Oct 29; 339:b4080. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b4080

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