So, you’ve decided you want to have a baby—congratulations!
Trying to conceive (TTC) can be both an exciting and stressful time for couples and individuals. It’s also likely that you have lots of questions. And no matter how small or uncomfortable a question may seem, you can be sure that someone else has already asked it.
It’s perfectly understandable that you may feel embarrassed bringing up certain topics with your doctor or OB/GYN. Although, try to remember that there’s never any reason to feel embarrassed about anything related to your body or your emotions!
That being said, if you have questions like, “how long should you wait to pee after sex when trying to conceive?”, or “how long should I play on my back when trying to conceive?” and you’d rather crowdsource or research online, we understand! Here’s a rundown of some of the more common questions that tend to come up for people who are trying to conceive.
- How often should I have sex when trying to conceive?
- How long should you wait to pee after sex when trying to conceive?
- How long should I lay on my back when trying to conceive?
- Can I drink alcohol when trying to conceive?
- How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
How often should I have sex when trying to conceive?
You may think you need to have sex all the time when you’re trying to conceive, but this is not actually the case. If you and your partner want to have sex every day, go right ahead. But, you don’t have to. You only need to have sex during your fertile window.
The fertile window is generally defined as lasting six days: the five days leading up to and including ovulation, and the day after ovulation. When you ovulate, an egg is released from the ovaries. The egg lives for about one day, during which time it can be fertilized by sperm and implant in the lining of your uterus.
This phase of your menstrual cycle is when you can get pregnant. It generally occurs about midway through your cycle, but the timeline varies from person to person.
Track your menstrual cycle to notice patterns and understand when you usually ovulate, then determine your fertile window from there. Calendars can do the trick, or, if you prefer to use more detailed and accurate methods, at-home fertility and hormone-tracking apps and test kits like Oova offer an in-depth look at your fertile window.
So, if you’re still wondering, “how often should I have sex when trying to conceive?”, the answer is every day or every other day during your fertile window.
If you’re not sure about when your fertile window is, or if you have irregular cycles and can’t track it reliably, you can base your timing around your period. Try having sex regularly for the two weeks or so after your period ends, as this timeline will likely include the ovulatory phase of your cycle.
How long should you wait to pee after sex when trying to conceive?
Up to you!
There isn’t actually any need to wait a certain period of time before going pee after sex. Your urethra (what pee comes out of) and your vaginal canal (where sperm goes) are two separate parts of your body, so peeing after sex can’t wash any sperm out of your vagina.
Peeing after sex may, however, help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), although medical research isn’t totally clear on this. If you’re prone to UTIs, or even if you aren’t, it may be a good idea to pee soon after sex to help clear out any bacteria that may be in your vaginal canal.
How long should I lay on my back when trying to conceive?
Again, your choice!
Like with peeing after sex, how long you lay on your back after sex doesn’t actually make a difference for your chances of conceiving.
This 2017 study involving people undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI), for example, found no statistical difference in conception rates between participants who got up immediately after the procedure and participants who remained immobilized.
Sperm can live in the uterus and fallopian tubes for up to six days after sex, and it’s possible to get pregnant during that period of time if the sperm meets an egg. Whether or not you lay on your back for a few minutes after sex doesn’t change this.
And what about all that fluid that leaks out of your vagina after sex? That also won’t keep you from getting pregnant. If (and when) you see semen leaking out a few minutes or a few hours after sex, it doesn’t mean that all the sperm is falling out of your body. Sperm are capable of swimming through your cervix and uterus and into your fallopian tubes in a matter of minutes, and gravity doesn’t affect that.
If waiting to pee, laying on your back, or resting after sex makes you feel better, then go for it – it certainly won’t hurt your chances of getting pregnant! But it also won’t improve your chances, either, and it’s perfectly fine to hop right up afterwards if you prefer.
Can I drink alcohol when trying to conceive?
It’s recommended that you stop drinking alcohol when you decide to start trying for a baby.
You can think of cutting out alcohol as part of preparing your body for pregnancy, like taking prenatal vitamins (after consulting with your doctor) or maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
>>RELATED: Alcohol and Fertility: What's the Link?
Any amount of alcohol is unsafe for a developing fetus at any stage of pregnancy – including when it’s still too early to know that you’re pregnant. The safest option for minimizing risk and ensuring that your baby will not be exposed to any alcohol is to stop drinking altogether as soon as you’re TTC.
How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
It might seem obvious, but it’s worth saying out loud: you don’t get pregnant immediately after sex.
It can take some time for sperm and an egg to meet. In fact, sperm can hang out in your uterus or fallopian tubes for up to six days after sex—meaning that fertilization (when sperm joins an egg) can happen anytime during those six days, if they coincide with ovulation.
If sperm and an egg do meet up, the fertilized egg then begins moving down the fallopian tube towards the uterus over the course of a few days. Then, the resulting ball of cells has to implant in the uterine lining, which takes another few days. Only after all of that does an embryo begin to develop.
While pregnancy doesn’t always happen right away, many people will get pregnant within a year. If it’s been a while and you haven’t conceived, you may be dealing with infertility.
In general, it’s recommended that you see a fertility specialist after one year of TTC if you’re under 35 years old, or after six months if you’re over 35. If you have a history of certain diagnoses, including PCOS, PID, or endometriosis, you may want to see a specialist sooner.
Consider making an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist (REI) for female infertility or a reproductive urologist for male infertility to get testing done and figure out your infertility treatment options.
>>RELATED: How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant?
Trying to conceive can be an exciting time. It can also be confusing, exhilarating, stressful, euphoric–you name it. All of your emotions are valid, and all of your questions are, too! Don’t worry if you think questions like, “how long should you wait to pee after sex when trying to conceive?” or “how long should I play on my back when trying to conceive?” are embarrassing. They’re not—they’re normal things you might want to know during this process!
Don’t be afraid to talk with the people around you about your concerns. Your healthcare providers have heard these questions before, and they aren’t as shocking or embarrassing as you may think.
- Carlson B M. (2019). Chapter 14 – The Reproductive System. The Human Body: Linking Structure and Function.
- CDC. (2023). Alcohol and Pregnancy Questions and Answers.
- CDC. (2022). Infertility FAQs.
- Planned Parenthood. How Pregnancy Happens.
- Van Rijswijk J, et al. (2017). Immobilization or mobilization after IUI: an RCT.
- Witt B (ACOG). (2023). Trying to Get Pregnant? Here’s When to Have Sex.
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