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the itty-gritty

A good friend of mine loves to tell the story of her high school sex-Ed teacher, who had a visceral–at least a visible horror of anything to do with sex.

The teacher had no problem with the biology itself, no problem with the his-and-her-parts diagrams. She rocked when it came to embryos and she glowed with righteous certainty when discussing “Responsibility”.
But to even tiptoe towards a pronounced penis was to see her collapse into herself like an imploding star. Questions of the clitoris, its use and/or existence were enough to send her voice choking and dwindling to an agonized strangle.

And she called sex the “Itty-Gritty”.

So, in honor of Sister Mary Josephine: Onward to the Itty-Gritty!

Now, I think we’re all clear that having sex can lead to pregnancy. But if you are trying to optimize your chance of pregnancy, are there things to do during and after sex that can help?

A few true / false questions to get us through:

You will increase your chance of pregnancy if you happy baby pose after sex (lie on your back and put your legs in the air).

Answer: false.
It may seem like common sense that you increase your pregnancy chance the longer the semen  (and the important player in the semen, the sperm) stay inside the vagina. Less leak, more pregnancy. This isn’t altogether true, and I’ll tell you why.

Those sperms move fast and there’s a lot of them …
With each ejaculation, about 200-300 million sperm are sent into the world to fend for themselves. Of these, a few hundred actually reach the cervix. From there they move upward and onward to the woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. This is where they usually meet up with the egg for fertilization.

Most of the active sperm will reach the cervix within 90 seconds, and will be inside the woman’s uterus and / or fallopian tube within 2 minutes of ejaculation!  The leftover sperm (the ones left inside the woman’s vagina) all die within 2 hours. The “successful sperm” will stay alive and well in the woman’s reproductive tract at least 24 hours (and up to 72 hours) after sex. This is why, if you remember from my previous post, your special sex days are before you ovulate – because the sperm hang out in the reproductive tract for days waiting for that egg. Living sperm have been found in the woman’s fallopian tube as long as 80 hours after sex.

I know there’s a joke in there somewhere…

Okay, True or False:

Having an orgasm helps get you pregnant. (This one’s only for the ladies).

Answer: false.

Female orgasm might help the sperm move better, but this has never been correlated to increase in pregnancy rates.

Using different types of lubrication can help or hinder your chance of getting pregnant.

Answer: true.
Go to any sex store, or even look on your RiteAid shelf, and you’ll see a myriad of different lubrications. The difference is mainly the base: water based, silicone based, oil based, and fertility lubricants. Obvious by then name, the best choice is the fertility lubricants. Water based lubricants, like KY Jelly and Astroglide, and we think silicone based too, can actually decrease the movement and amount of sperms available for use after ejaculation.

Oil based lubricants like mineral and canola oil are okay to use. These lubricants got a bad rep because they can break latex condoms. But you’re not using condoms anymore, so go ahead!

There are some lubricants specially formulated for women trying to get pregnant. PreSeed, for example, was developed specifically because it was found that likes of KY and Astroglide were bad for sperm.

So bottom line: avoid the water and silicone based lubricants. Use mineral oil or PreSeed.

More little known sperm secrets and lots more Itty-Gritty in upcoming posts!


May 21, 2012

Original post published: 

* Content reviewed annually for accuracy 

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