The Best Sex Positions to Get Pregnant
Originally published 08/08/2019. Updated for accuracy and relevancy on 10/27/2023.
What sex position is best for getting pregnant? Does a woman have to orgasm? Will lube hurt my chances? OBGYN Dr. Mare answers all these questions and more in this guide.
If you’ve spent time on the internet looking for information on how to get pregnant (which I’m guessing you have, if you found us), you’ve probably read about which sex positions heterosexual couples should use to get pregnant. Pregnancy can feel like a mysterious process, and with all the information out there, it’s not surprising that there are people looking for an easy way to do it.
Sex While Trying to Conceive
Here’s the thing: scientific evidence shows that in order to conceive, it doesn’t actually matter what position you’re in—you just need to have unprotected vaginal sex in whatever position you and your partner want. That’s it.
Whether it’s doggy style, propping up the pelvis after sex, or peeing too quickly, there are a lot of myths out there surrounding sex while trying to conceive (TTC). Some swear that these methods will increase the chances of getting pregnant because it keeps the sperm on track, sending them towards the cervix.
The bottom line is that none of this is proven. In scientist-speak, “there is no evidence that coital position affects fecund-ability” per the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). That is to say, no study has confirmed that one position is more effective than any other. Yes, scientists have studied this, and yes, the articles they’ve written about it are interesting to read, to say the least.  But don’t worry, we read them so you don’t have to. Read Dr. Gleaton’s FAQ on Sex and Conception.
Busting Sex Position Myths
There are a lot of rumors out there about what kind of sex you need to be having if you want to get pregnant. Let's debunk some popular myths or answer some commonly asked questions.
Does Sex Position Matter?
Some people say that having sex doggy-style allows for deeper penetration, which lets the sperm get closer to the cervix and makes it more likely that they’ll actually meet the egg, instead of just hanging out in the vagina where they’re not helping anyone. However, we know that position doesn’t really matter all that much. Sperm are fast swimmers, and biology helps them find where they need to go. Sperm can be found in the cervical canal within seconds of ejaculation, regardless of position.  So while it makes sense that deeper penetration and maximum cervical contact should improve your chances, it really doesn’t. The best position is going to be different for every woman because every woman’s body is different. As long as some sperm enters the vaginal canal during the fertile window, there is a chance that conception can occur.
Do You Have to Orgasm to Get Pregnant?
The myths about what to do and what not to do during baby-making sex reach beyond what positions you should be doing it in. Even the female orgasm plays a leading role in these tales: people say that when a woman experiences an orgasm during sex, it makes her more likely to conceive. While we’re always in favor of satisfying sex, a female orgasm hasn’t been scientifically shown to significantly change your chances of conceiving either. 
Generally speaking, there’s nothing at all wrong with having sex mostly doggy-style if you like that, or any other position you prefer. And we’re very pro-orgasm, but it’s all for reasons that have everything to do with enjoying your sex life and nothing to do with conceiving.
Should I Put My Legs Up After Sex? Do I Have to Hold My Pee?
You might want to avoid lying with your pelvis propped up because that sounds a little uncomfortable. It’s also recommended that you make sure to pee fairly soon after sex (and/or beforehand) so that you decrease your chances of getting a urinary tract infection.  Because the urethra is located right in front of the vaginal opening in women, our anatomy makes us more prone to UTIs after sex.  Bacteria from the vagina can inadvertently get into the urethra during sex from the mouth, penis, fingers or toys. 
So why do so many people believe these widely held tales if they aren’t true, and scientists have gone so far as to debunk them through studies? That’s a question with a complicated answer. Part of it is probably that trying to get pregnant can be confusing, complicated, and disappointing when it doesn’t happen immediately. In the face of uncertainty, people tend to get a little superstitious. Think of someone wearing their home team’s jersey to bring on a win or carrying a lucky charm to a final exam.
Plus, most people are probably thinking if it can’t hurt, why not try it? That’s an easy mentality to get bogged down in, but the thing is, it can hurt in a way. There’s already so much you have to keep track of when you’re trying to conceive—from ovulation tests to fertility lubricants to prenatal vitamins to scheduling sex—that the last thing you need is the added burden of worrying about how you’re having all this sex, especially when there’s no proof that you need to be concerned about it. Not having sex the right way is one more thing you might blame yourself for messing up when you’re not getting pregnant right away, and no one needs that extra, unfounded pressure.
Human psychology aside, another really practical reason that people cling to these ideas is that measuring whether sex positions impact conception rates is a tricky question around which to design an experiment, so there haven’t been as many studies about it as you might hope. That makes what scientific evidence there is available easier to brush off.
Tips for TTC
Use Fertility Lubricant
An issue that comes up frequently with couples that are TTC is vaginal dryness. In fact, a survey of 900 TTC couples showed that vaginal dryness was two times higher in these couples than in the general population. The survey also revealed that sexual intimacy was negatively impacted because of this.
Sperm-friendly lubricants (also known as fertility friendly or TTC lube) are great for couples trying to conceive. Not only do lubricants help reduce friction and make sex more pleasurable, but the right lubricant can make sure that nothing is in the way of sperm meeting egg.
Make it Fun
Really, the only thing to concern yourself with when it comes to having sex is not falling into an unnecessarily strict sex or post-sex regimen. You’re going to be having a lot of sex while trying to conceive—doctors recommend having sex once a day or every other day during your fertile window—which may sound fun now, but can get routine real quick. So make sure you’re still having fun, even as you stay on the schedule that you’ve made. You don’t need to end up in doggy style if you don’t like it, and you should definitely feel free to cuddle afterward, if that’s your jam, without worrying about what angle your pelvis is at.
- Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in collaboration with the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Electronic address: ASRM@asrm.org; Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in collaboration with the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Optimizing natural fertility: a committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2017;107(1):52-58. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.09.029
- Moghissi KS. Postcoital test: physiologic basis, technique, and interpretation. Fertil Steril. 1976;27(2):117-129. doi:10.1016/s0015-0282(16)41648-1
- Levin RJ. Can the controversy about the putative role of the human female orgasm in sperm transport be settled with our current physiological knowledge of coitus?. J Sex Med. 2011;8(6):1566-1578. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02162.x
- Foxman B, Chi JW. Health behavior and urinary tract infection in college-aged women. J Clin Epidemiol. 1990;43(4):329-337. doi:10.1016/0895-4356(90)90119-a
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). ACOG. FAQ 50. January 2023. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/urinary-tract-infections