What Is the Best Intercourse Position to Get Pregnant?

Seperating the Myths from the Maybes

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Many think that the missionary position (man on top, woman on bottom) is the best intercourse position to get pregnant. However, there's no research to back up that claim.

Any intercourse position that gets sperm near the cervix (or vagina, for that matter) can get you pregnant. Sperm will swim up the female reproductive tract with or without the help of gravity.

Positions to get pregnant may include:

  • Man on top, woman on bottom position (aka "Missionary Position")
  • Woman on top, man on bottom position
  • Side-by-side position
  • "Doggy style," or rear-entry position
  • Edge of the bed position
  • Right angle sex position

That said, if the woman is lying on her back when the man ejaculates, that may possibly improve her chances.

There's no research on sexual intercourse to prove it. Creating lab conditions to study this topic would be difficult, for a number of reasons. However, there is research on intrauterine insemination (IUI treatment) that may imply position can make a difference.

What We Know From IUI Research

Intrauterine insemination is a fertility treatment that involves taking specially washed semen and directly transferring the sperm via a special catheter to the woman's uterus. The sperm are transferred while the woman is lying on her back.

Doctors wondered if remaining horizontal after the procedure might improve pregnancy success.

In one study, they found that women who lay on their back for 15 minutes after the sperm transfer had a 27 percent rate of pregnancy after three cycles. Compare this to the women who got up right away after the transfer—they had an 18 percent pregnancy rate.

Doggy Style As Good As Missionary Position?

Using MRI scans, researchers were able to compare which sexual position—missionary or “doggy style”—gets ejaculate closest to the cervix.

You may be surprised to hear that rear entry gets the penis closer to the ideal location to deliver sperm when compared to the more typical man-on-top position. This research doesn't tell us anything about how this may affect pregnancy success. But it's assumed that ejaculation closer to the cervix would be better.

If you’re bored with man-on-top, but you still want a position that may be best for conception, consider rear entry.

The Best Position to Get Pregnant May Be What Turns You On More

While the actual position may not matter, how that position makes you feel might matter.

For example, longer foreplay and a higher level of sexual arousal before ejaculation have been shown to increase sperm counts in some research studies. If a particular position is more of a turn-on, that may boost fertility. By how much is unknown, however.

But arousal isn't only about the man. Female orgasm that occurs just before, during, or sometime after the male partner ejaculates has been shown in some studies to boost pregnancy rates. Positions that allow extra female simulation may be better for getting pregnant.

Taking time to bring a woman to orgasm may improve semen parameters. Researchers wondered what the possible biological purpose of cunnilingus (oral sex on a woman) might be for reproduction.

Both humans and some animals perform oral sex, which you might assume has little to do with reproduction.

However, they found that performing cunnilingus increased the volume of semen produced by the male during later sexual intercourse.

Could it be that different sexual positions that seem “less than ideal” for conception might be better? We just don’t know.

Another Reason to Change Positions: Trying-to-Conceive Burnout

Sex when trying to conceive can begin to feel like a chore. Bedroom burnout is common.

Changing sexual positions could bring renewed excitement into your sex life. Even if it doesn’t boost your odds for pregnancy, it still may be worthwhile for emotional and relationship reasons.

A Word from Verywell

If the missionary position just doesn't do it for you—but you're wondering if the man-on-top position for intercourse might be better for getting pregnant—you can switch to man-on-top, woman-on-bottom, just before ejaculation. Doggy style, or rear entry, may also be better for conception.

Hot sex, as it were, will not cure male infertility due to low sperm counts. If anything, it may just give the still low counts a small boost.

However, keep in mind that a less-than-ideal position for intercourse is not going to cause infertility. Any position that gets semen near the cervix (or anywhere in the vaginal area) can lead to pregnancy. 

While your Aunt Mildred may tell you that the reason you can't get pregnant is because you're "doing it wrong," there's zero truth to that statement.

Sources:

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.

Faix A1, Lapray JF, Callede O, Maubon A, Lanfrey K. “Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of sexual intercourse: second experience in missionary position and initial experience in posterior position.J Sex Marital Ther. 2002;28 Suppl 1:63-76.

Pham, M.N., Jeffery, A.J., Sela, Y. et al. “Duration of Cunnilingus Predicts Estimated Ejaculate Volume in Humans: a Content Analysis of Pornography.” Evolutionary Psychological Science (2016) 2: 220. doi:10.1007/s40806-016-0057-5

Pound N, Javed MH, Ruberto C, Shaikh MA, Del Valle AP. "Duration of sexual arousal predicts semen parameters for masturbatory ejaculates." Physiology and Behavior. 2002 Aug;76(4-5):685-9.

van Roijen JH, Slob AK, Gianotten WL, Dohle GR, van der Zon AT, Vreeburg JT, Weber RF. "Sexual arousal and the quality of semen produced by masturbation." Human Reproduction. 1996 Jan;11(1):147-51.

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