Let’s talk about sex!

When to do it, how often to do it, how to do it, how to avoid it being robotic, how to do it without feeling pressurised, what to do after it…..

These are all questions that I discuss on a very regular basis with my fertility patients. 

And they all lead to quite an interesting, detailed discussion about a person’s love life that before setting up my clinic, I would only have ventured into after a few glasses of wine. Yet, quite often I will be having this conversation on a Monday morning with a relative stranger!

But it is something that is not often discussed. In fact, the topic of trying to get pregnant is still one of those taboo subjects that friends and family members often avoid. So, it seems that the job of advising a couple on their sex life has somehow fallen to me.

So, let’s push aside our British embarrassment and talk about sex

When to do it

There seems to be many variations on the advice here, but it is generally assumed that to conceive a child, a couple needs to have unprotected sex around the time of ovulation. Simple, yes? 


Firstly, it is a good idea to know when the woman is ovulating. For more info on this, check out my blog “How to get pregnant”. 

Secondly, having sex just before ovulation is ideal. That way the sperm is waiting for the egg to be released and can be fertilising the egg as it is descending into the uterus. Ready to be implanted. 

The sperm can live for 3-5 days inside a woman, so theoretically she can conceive without having sex on the actual day of ovulation. 

But for good measure, having sex the day before ovulation and the day after would be optimum. 

Human bodies are tricky things and ovulation can be unpredictable. So to increase your chances of getting pregnant, let’s open the “window of opportunity”. Starting 5 days before ovulation and continuing for 5 days afterwards, have sex every other day. 

Eg If an average woman ovulates on day 14 of her cycle, begin having sex on day 9, then day 11, day 13, day 15, day 17 and day 19. That’s 6 times across a 11 day window. 

That would be “gold standard”. In reality, many things get in the way. Work, events, being knackered etc so just try to do your best. 

How to do it

Well I’m not a sex counsellor, but I don’t see as it makes any difference how you do it. In a fairytale world, conceiving a child will be through an act of devoted love and beauty. But if you need a quickie in the morning, with no kissing because of morning breath then who cares! As long as the sperm gets fired into the correct hole that should suffice. 

Then there is the topic of orgasms. Obviously, lovely for both people to have but not essential for the woman (from a conception point of view). It can take the average fertile couple, up to 12 months to conceive. So I think the sooner you make this a fun activity, the better. 

Don’t get stressed if it doesn’t happen

Luckily for a woman, she can just lie back and think of England if she’s not really feeling it. And pressures of work (or trying to have a baby) don’t really interfere with the physical act. Not always the same for the men. I see a lot of patients who complain that stress has affected their partner’s ability to perform. Of course, this can be very frustrating for both the man and the woman. 

I think that the statistics on male impotence are something like, 20% of 20 year old men will experience it, 30% of 30 year olds, 40% of 40 year olds etc. So it is quite common. There is absolutely no point whatsoever of getting cross or sulky about it if it happens. It’s just one of those things. The more you make a big deal about it, the worse it will be. 

Some men can be quite sensitive on this subject, so the less fuss you make, the better in the long run. Try your best to make things as relaxed as possible on the day. Please don’t pounce on your partner the moment that you decide it is time to try and conceive. There is a misconception that men are horny all the time (some are), but many will need time to decompress from work, have some food, chill out before they are summoned to the bedroom. My husband refused to do it on demand and requested that he was “woo-d” properly (my eyes are rolling at the memory of this!). 

I’m sure if you prepare carefully, you will become an expert of “managing” your husband the right way, so that you are both happy. 

Now, if this becomes a regular issue then it is probably worth checking things out with a GP. Some medications and anti-depressants can cause erectile and climax problems. 

Get creative

Just because sex now has a purpose other than fun, there is no need for it to become boring and functional. If you are trying for a first baby, then this may be the only chance you will get (for a while anyway) to be creative with your love making. And as it can take months or years to get pregnant, why not see this as an ideal opportunity to try a few things out. Don’t be afraid to go to Ann Summers and buy a few interesting items. After all, you’re probably not going out drinking in bars til 1am anymore so why not liven up your Saturday night at home?

In it for the long term

Trying for a baby can be a test on any partnership. The endless rollercoaster of optimism and despair can be very challenging for a couple. Using sex as a bonding experience, a time when you don’t have to talk about “what are we going to do if it doesn’t work this month”, can be very beneficial. Finding ways to communicate when you’re trying to conceive is an essential part of becoming great parents together. 

I hope this blog has helped a little bit. I see hundreds of couples who are on their journey to having a family and I would estimate that I have had a conversation along these lines, with approx 99% of them. Please don’t think you are alone in worrying about the topic of sex and fertility, I think it crosses everyones mind if they have been trying for more than a few months.