If you’re trying to get pregnant, either on your own or via IUI/IVF, you may be wondering if you are allowed to have sex, masturbate, and orgasm during that time. In this guide, we’ll share the answer.

 

By women’s health expert Halle Tecco, MPH, MBA

The 2WW, or two-week-wait, is that nail biting wait until you can take a pregnancy test and learn if you are pregnant or not. If you’re trying to get pregnant, either on your own or via IUI/IVF, you may be wondering if you are allowed to have sex, masturbate, and orgasm during that time.  

Two concerns arise when thinking about orgasms during the 2WW: 

  • The first is not the orgasm itself, but rather if sex could introduce infection during a critical time for implantation. Infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV), anytime during pregnancy can be dangerous for the health of you and your baby. 
  • The other concern is if orgasms can initiate uterine contractions. On this point, there is mixed research that orgasming from sex or masturbation can impact embryo implantation.

Overall, there is no research confirming that orgasming from sex or masturbation can impact embryo implantation during non-IVF conception. Orgasming doesn’t impact ovulation and fertilization and is unlikely to impact implantation. However, if you look at the research on sex after IVF, you get a different picture. 

Sex after an embryo transfer

Some clinics, like Shady Grove, discourage sex for five to seven days after transfer in what they call “pelvic rest.” They state that this rest gives the embryo optimal time to implant into the uterine wall, and that “most IVF patients can resume normal sexual activity a week or two after their embryo transfer.” 

Furthermore, an observational study from Dr. Natalie Crawford of 125 women undergoing IVF found that women who had intercourse once during the implantation window had 1.59 times the odds of miscarriage, and those that had intercourse on two or more days had 2.38 times chance for miscarriage.

The thought is that during an IVF cycle, the uterine cavity is especially vulnerable to intercourse-related infection since the cervical mucus barrier is disrupted by the catheter used during the embryo transfer.

However, a conflicting study of 478 IVF cycles found that patients who had sex before and after transfer had the same pregnancy rate as those who did not have sex, but did have higher rates of an ongoing pregnancy. The authors concluded that “exposure to semen around the time of embryo transfer increases the likelihood of successful early embryo implantation and development.”

Sex before an embryo transfer

While you may not want to have sex after an embryo transfer, one study of 300 patients found that having sex the night before an embryo transfer could be beneficial. In fact, patients in this study who had intercourse the night before a transfer had pregnancy rates of 52% and implantation rates of 38%, compared to a pregnancy rate of 37% and implantation rate of 25% for those who did not have intercourse. 

So, is it a problem to orgasm during the 2WW? If you’re conceiving without the help of fertility treatments, there’s no evidence that orgasms would be problematic. If you are conceiving with the help of science, the evidence is mixed—so talk to your fertility doctor. 

Take-aways

  • For those trying to get pregnant without IVF, there is no research confirming that orgasming from sex or masturbation during the 2WW can impact embryo implantation
  • For those undergoing IVF, the research about sex after an embryo transfer is mixed. It’s best to talk to your doctor and follow their advice

 

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