Timing Sex

May 27th, 2010 § 9 comments

If you’re trying to get pregnant, something useful to know is how often to have sex.  Sperm counts peak at two to three days after ejaculation, meaning, after you have sex (or masturbate,) the swimmers will be most abundant two to three days later.  Sperm live for about 48 hours in the female reproductive tract, so the optimum timing is sex every other day.

However, don’t freak out if you have an especially romantic weekend with a little extra frequent activity, or get caught up and miss a few days.  Stressing out about sex is counter productive, as stress itself can result in poorer sperm quality.

I’m often asked when during the month (or cycle) a couple should try to conceive.  Studies show that conception usually happens up to six days before, and ending on, ovulation.  The big problem is that all tests for ovulation show the event after it happens.  So a good plan is start having sex every other day after menstruation ends, and keep going until the next menstruation.

So, soldier on.  Have sex every other day.  Doctors orders.

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§ 9 Responses to Timing Sex"

  • adam says:

    wanted to ask you a queston. i have been reading about a product called Semenax, and from different sites and have read good about it. have you heard of it and does it reall y work in helping dreating more sperm, or a waste of money. thank you

  • maledoc says:

    That’s a great question, Adam. I’m not sure what the active ingredients are, (I looked and it’s really unclear,) and as far as I can tell, there aren’t any good controlled studies about what it claims to do. Controlled studies are really important with semen and sperm–if you take a bunch of men that have low numbers and just wait, nature literally guarantees that on average they’ll get better. It’s an effect called “regression to the mean.” So you need a placebo group to see if the men got better on their own, or if what they took actually helped. You’ve given me a good idea for a future post 🙂

  • Simon says:

    Great blog Doc, like your logo…here are my questions. How soon following a vasectomy reversal will sperm be present in the semen? Based on that answer when would be a good time to try to conceive?

  • maledoc says:

    That’s a great question, Simon. The sort answer is that it depends on what’s done. For a vasovasostomy it takes on average about two months for motile sperm to appear in the ejaculate, and for an epididymovasostomy about six months. But sperm can appear earlier, and the best time to start is as soon as the surgical wounds are well healed. Another great idea for a future post–thanks!

  • GB says:

    Hi Doc, my question relates to length of abstinence before an IUI. I have read a study (link below) that says men with low sperm count or morphology can actually decrease their count and motility if they abstain too long, say longer than two days. Have you seen any evidence to support the idea that while the volume might be lower with shorter abstinence, the fresher sperm are more effective in insemination procedures? i.e quality over quantity?



    • maledoc says:

      What I wrote–that sperm counts peak at two to three days after ejaculation–has been observed for some time in several studies. (In fact, you link to a study now almost a decade old.) The better the sperm, presumably the better the chances with IUI, all things being equal.

  • Christie says:

    Hi, I have a question about your statement, “The big problem is that all tests for ovulation show the event after it happens.” What about ovulation predictor kits? And couldn’t you stop having sex after confirming ovulation by charting the women’s body temperature. Sex every other day for the entire cycle seems a little exhausting, and maybe impossible if the guy has low testosterone already…

    • eve.feinberg says:

      ovulation prediction kits do not work for everyone. The only way to truly confirm that ovulation has happened is with a blood progesterone level. The rise in basal body temperature also happens after ovulation has occurred. I typically recommend that women use ovulation predictor kits and in the first month that you have a blood test one week after your kit tuns positive to confirm that you did in fact ovulate. When the kit turns positive it signals that your brain has released the hormone LH (an LH surge) and that ovulation will occur roughly 36 hours from the onset of the surge. Since we don’t know when that surge started, I recommend having intercourse the day you get the surge as well as the following day (or day after). You definitely cannot go wrong timing from the finish of menstruation until your next period, but I agree 100%…that is exhausting!!! Try the predictor kits in combination with the blood test.
      Eve Feinberg, MD

  • Christie says: