What’s the Best Baby-Making Position?
Things can get a little complicated when it comes to wading through the fact and fiction of conception. What really works and what is just a long-standing fallacy?
The missionary position (man on top) is often said to be the best position for conception because it allows the sperm to be deposited directly onto the cervix upon ejaculation. Toni Weschler, MS, founder of the Fertility Awareness Counseling and Training Seminars in Seattle, Washington, and author of the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, recommends intercourse from behind (hands and knees position) for women with a tipped uterus. “This position allows the sperm better access to the cervix,” she says. Following the closer-is-better logic, partners should avoid any position that causes semen to leak out, including the woman-on-top position, standing, and sitting during intercourse.
Makes sense, right? Too bad there’s no real scientific proof that it works. When asked if there are any positions she recommends to fertility patients, Esther Eisenberg, MD, MPH, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, simply replies, “No.”
Will Pillows Help?
To maximize the time sperm have to reach the egg, Weschler advises women to “place a small pillow under your hips following intercourse so that your cervix ‘rests’ in the pool of semen for a short time (perhaps 20 minutes or so).” Sex expert Ruth Westheimer agrees. In her book Dr. Ruth’s Pregnancy Guide for Couples, she states, “After ejaculation, the woman should continue to lie on her back with her pelvis slightly tilted upward for some time, maybe 20 to 30 minutes.” The pillow propping theory is so popular that couples can actually purchase a device called the Conception Curve Fertility Pillow designed to properly tilt the pelvis into the correct position.
Dr. Eisenberg’s opinion? “Not necessary,” she says. But Amos Grunebaum, MD, director of clinical maternal-fetal medicine at the New York Hospital-Cornell Weill Medical College recommends both the missionary or rear-entry positions and lying with your feet up for half an hour. There is, it seems, no definitive answer.
Is a Coffee Cutback Required?
If you’re trying to get pregnant, your physician will likely advise you to cut down or eliminate caffeine consumption. “Excessive coffee intake has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage,” says Dr. Eisenberg, who advises women to limit coffee intake to less than two cups a day. On the other hand, a 2003 American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting in San Antonio, Texas, revealed that sperm motility was higher in men who drank coffee compared to those who did not. The study didn’t go so far as to recommend coffee for fathers-to-be since it’s not clear how much caffeine is helpful, how much is too much, or even how many days, weeks, or months in advance the drug needs to take effect. So while a couple of Frappuccinos for the gentlemen won’t hurt anything, they probably won’t help much either. If you’re a hopeful mom-to-be, stick with decaf.