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With Sex, Timing Is Everything — Or Is It?


a blog by Serena H. Chen, M.D., IRMS Reproductive Medicine at Saint Barnabas, April 1, 2011

“Honey I’m ovulating!" So what if you are tired, exhausted, don’t have time? "We have to do it — and we have to do it NOW!”

This seems kind of stressful and not very romantic, but this is the norm for many couples who are trying to conceive.

Did you know that timing is a MYTH?!? Yes, that’s right! Having sex at exactly the moment of ovulation does not really improve pregnancy rates compared to couples who just have regular intercourse.

So, save yourself some time and stress. Throw out that basal body thermometer and all those months of temperature charts. Don’t spend the money on that fancy fertility monitor, and 50 bucks a month for the urine ovulation predictor kit? Forget it! All of these fancy and not-so-fancy tools will not improve your pregnancy rate over just having regular intercourse.

What does “regular intercourse” mean? It means having unprotected sex about twice a week, perhaps three times during your most fertile week. For a woman with a typical 28 day cycle, that is around days 10 to 16. I tell my patients to mark that week “date week” on the calendar and have two “dates” that week — anytime they feel like it or have the time. All the other times are just for fun.

But, you say, “I have been doing that for years, and it is not working! Shouldn’t we try harder? “

I don’t recommend “trying harder” for a few reasons:

  • The biggest reason is that trying harder does not work. There is no difference in the pregnancy rate for couples who have regular unprotected intercourse compared to couples who are trying harder.
  • The next reason is that if you have been trying for years, or for one year, or for just six months if you are 35 years old or older, then it is time to see a fertility doctor for an evaluation.

Many people don’t like to hear this, because they are afraid of finding out that something is wrong. But please remember, most infertility problems are completely treatable! And no one is going to make you do something you don’t want to do!

These are your decisions — just make sure they are informed ones.

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