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Trying To Conceive: When Should You Abstain from Sex?

a blog by Kim Griffiths, May 9, 2013

When it comes to trying to conceive, we spend so much time worrying about the best time to make a baby that we forget to stop and think about times we should not have sex. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, there are times you should abstain.

As a rule of thumb if you are trying to get pregnant, you should start off by having a good idea of when you ovulate as cycle length and regularity vary from woman to woman. You can do this by using ovulation prediction kits (OPKs), or charting your basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus. During your window of ovulation, you should have sex every two days, both before and after ovulation occurs. Sperm can live for up to 48 hours after ejaculation, so it is possible to get pregnant from pre-ovulation sex and post-ovulation sex provided you time things just right.

If you are currently under the care of a fertility doctor and are scheduled for a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), saline sonogram, mock transfer, or other fertility test, talk to your doctor about having sex or abstaining. You may be required to abstain before specific tests and for 24 hours after, to prevent infection or complications. Similarly, if your partner is scheduled for a semen analysis, he may be advised to abstain from sex for three days before providing a sample, but no more than five days as extended periods of time between ejaculation can also impact semen analysis results.

Fertility patients who have been advised to cancel their intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle may also be told to abstain as multiple mature follicles could ovulate and increase the risk of a high order multiples pregnancy. Your safety and health is the number one priority for your doctor; he or she does not wish to cause disappointment by advising you to refrain from sex during a time you could be ovulating. Your doctor simply wishes for you to have the safest pregnancy possible.

Provided your doctor has not advised you to abstain from sex for any reason, you CAN have sex during the two week wait (that anxiety ridden period of time between ovulation and taking a home pregnancy test or beta hCG blood test). After ovulation, we hope and pray that magic will happen and that tiny fertilized embryo will find its way down the fallopian tube where it will implant into a plush uterine lining for the next nine months. Because these events take place inside the uterus, which is closed off by the cervix, you should not worry that having sex will somehow interfere with the process. Semen released during ejaculation will create a pool around the cervix. Sperm will travel beyond the cervix into the uterus, but powerful hormone signals will indicate that fertilization has already occurred. No harm will be done and you can continue to have sex throughout pregnancy as long as it is comfortable to you and your doctor has not advised against it. If fertilization and implantation have not occurred, the ovulated egg and endometrial tissue will be shed with your next menses.

Comments (2)

Thank you so much for your kind words, Leonore! You can also connect with me on Twitter @Griffiths1214 or on as KimAtFertilityAuthority.

All my best,

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