During most of the menstrual cycle, cervical mucus forms an impenetrable barrier to sperm penetration. But around the time of ovulation, hormones like estrogen and progesterone cause this mucus to become more watery, less sticky, and more amenable to sperm invasion.
Only one of the million sperm released from semen ever enters the uterus and up the fallopian tube to fertilize an egg. But there are ways to increase your chances of success.
Laying Down After Sex
During sexual intercourse, sperm is deposited inside the woman’s vagina. The sperm swims to the egg, and if it fertilizes it, then pregnancy happens. In order for fertilization to happen, the sperm must reach the egg in the fallopian tube, which is located at the base of the cervix. There are a few things you can do after sex to keep sperm close to the egg, such as lying down for a while.
However, there’s no scientific proof that changing your sex position will help you get pregnant. In fact, it might make a difference if you have sex in the position that you find most comfortable and enjoyable. It also helps if you both have an orgasm that leads to clitoral stimulation, but without penetration. This type of orgasm, which is known as the “upsuck theory,” might be able to bring sperm closer to the egg.
When sperm is deposited in the vagina, it’s in the form of jelly-like semen. Normally, the semen quickly becomes liquid, which allows sperm to swim towards the fallopian tubes. Occasionally, you might notice some sticky fluid on your underwear or on the toilet paper after sex, which is just the leftover semen that didn’t make it up to the fallopian tubes. Using lubricant, such as saliva or coconut oil, can make it easier for the sperm to swim up toward the uterus. However, some store-bought lubricants may negatively affect the sperm’s ability to swim up toward the cervix and into the fallopian tube.
Using a Menstrual Cup
The menstrual cup is a great alternative to using tampons or pads. It is designed to hold menstrual blood in the vagina, helping to keep sperm from being able to reach your egg and fertilize it. These cups are available as either disposable or reusable, and can be bought from any drugstore or online. They are often much cheaper than tampons, and can last for years before needing to be replaced. They are also a good option for women with conditions such as pelvic floor dysfunction, vaginismus, or endometriosis, which can make it difficult to use tampons or pads.
When inserted correctly, the menstrual cup should be within about 1/2 inch of your vaginal opening. This helps create a seal around the walls of your vagina, which prevents leaks. If you have difficulty getting your menstrual cup to seal, try performing some pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, to help establish a strong suction. You can also try adjusting the position of your cup, or trying a different fold.
Once you’re ready to remove your menstrual cup, gently wiggle it away from your vagina and into the toilet, being careful not to touch it with dirty hands. Then, dump out the contents of your cup and wash it in the sink with a bit of mild, fragrance-free soap. You can also sanitize your cup by boiling it in hot water.
Taking a Menstrual Bath
The cervix is a small structure that opens into the womb (uterus) at the very end of the vaginal canal. It is covered by a thick layer of cervical mucus, which acts like a filter that keeps out bacteria and other things that could cause infection. The mucus also enables sperm to invade the womb, but it doesn’t do that very easily. The sperm have to swim into the cervical mucus on their own, and only a few are able to do so.
Spermatozoa can be seen invading the cervical mucus within a few seconds after ejaculation, but they are only able to fertilize an egg in the first portion of the semen that reaches the cervix. The rest of the semen contains millions of sperms, but most of them are never able to enter the body.
One tip that has been passed down to women on their periods is to take a bath with warm water and not hot water, in order to keep the cervical mucus from becoming too irritated. In addition, women should be careful to use only plain soap when bathing and avoid using scented products that can affect the pH of the vaginal mucus.
However, taking a bath may not be helpful for all women during their menstrual cycle. Some women may still experience bleeding in the bathtub, depending on how heavy their flow is. If this is the case, a woman should either wear a tampon or choose to bathe on days when their flow is lighter.
Taking a Vitamin Supplement
If you’re trying to conceive, there are some things you can do that will increase your chances of becoming pregnant. One is to have sex while lying down, because that will allow your partner to deposit the semen closer to the cervix. Also, make sure you are fully stimulated during orgasm, as the tingles and flood of oxytocin that accompany it may help to speed up the sperm’s journey to the egg.
You can also avoid vaginal sprays, scented tampons, and lubricants (because they interfere with the natural acidity of your vagina); saliva (it kills sperm); and douching (it increases pelvic inflammatory disease and washes away cervical mucus). Finally, it’s important to know that these tips don’t guarantee pregnancy—they simply improve your odds. However, it’s also a good idea to focus on your overall health, including your diet and weight, stress, smoking, and medications. Your doctor can give you advice about all of these issues. To find out when you are most fertile, monitor your menstrual cycle by looking for the signs that indicate ovulation.