I get asked pretty regularly if making a woman orgasm increases her chances of getting pregnant.
There is a big part of me that is tempted to perpetuate this urban legend and talk about orgasm-produced vaginal, uterine and pelvic floor contractions propelling semen at a conception enhancing velocity toward the cervix. Ejaculate travels at about 10 MPH, however, and doesn’t need the extra help in speed or direction. Alas.
Even though there is not a measurable connection between whether or not a woman orgasms and her likelihood of conception from that specific act of sex, orgasms are all up-side in the quest for conception. Two reasons.
First, orgasms are relaxing. Our brains have a chemical stress response, and this chemical makes it very difficult to get pregnant, or to stay pregnant long enough for us to realize when we are pregnant. Meditation and exercise can really help when we are stressed, and stressed about being stressed. Remembering to eat, drinking enough water, and cutting out caffeine are tested forms of stress relief. The chemicals we trigger during orgasm, though, can take stress relief and elevate it. Orgasms make us feel exhilarated and blissed out.
Second, orgasms promote intimacy. The oxytocin our brains release during orgasm causes us to feel attachment and connection. This chemical bonding is positive inside a nurturing relationship (and keeps us up at night reading old text messages and listening to sad songs when something more casual and fleeting comes to an end—we are right, we did feel something. We felt drugged by our brain). Orgasms, for most women in a loving relationship, are about more than this neuro-chemical intimacy.
Orgasms are about communication— what feels good, what feels bad, what we need more of and what sounds interesting but we’ve never been brave enough to try before now. Respectful, caring communication builds intimacy, and vice versa. Practicing communicating with a partner during sex helps us be more comfortable communicating during other situations in life. When we’ve found the courage to tell our partner that his tongue is about six inches lower than we’d like it to be (especially if we’ve pretended otherwise in the past), it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to tell him his consistent lateness for couple’s pottery is hurting our feelings.
Exploration builds intimacy, too. Traveling to any new destination requires patience, and a certain amount of trust. Maybe you are traveling to Belize, maybe you are trying anal sex. Many people experience some avoidance around exploration, especially once we’ve “settled down.” We may pick up a backpack and travel through the jungles of Asia after college without overthinking what the future holds, and a few years later we put our passport in a bank box and take two weeks vacation to our home state for the holidays instead. Similarly, we tend to be more comfortable exploring our sexuality when we are single and uncommitted than with someone we are going to wake up next to every morning for the known future, a person we will run errands with all Saturday, who is in charge of setting the house alarm and buying our mother a birthday card. We mistake the familiarity of routine with the happiness of comfortability. We worry about what this person whom we love and see all the time is going to think of us if we ask for something that could be tricky, uncomfortable, or turn out to be gross. Intimacy is increased when we face our fear, open ourselves up to risk and have the positive outcome of our partner listening to our desire and accepting it as part of us.
There is an ongoing debate about which is better, orgasm during committed sex or single sex. Some women, especially, have an easier time letting go during sex with someone they don’t know well. It’s true that we experience an increased rush of adrenaline with someone new and mysterious. There is something sexy about a hint of danger in the unexpected. We don’t think farther ahead than next weekend, or New Years Eve, and so aren’t afraid to put our fantasies out there. We aren’t risking more than party plans. So we relax, we are brave, we are bossy. We start feeling sexy in whatever mismatched underwear we threw on this morning. We orgasm. Hard. Repeatedly. Then we meet someone great, and sex changes. We are self-conscious. We want to smell nice. We wonder how many weeks we should spend at the gym before we can turn on a light in the bedroom. We are worried we either will seem like a pervert or a prude if we ask for what we want, so we say little. Or we pretend he’s everything we’ve always wanted in bed and can read our minds. We barely come, or never do. It starts this way and by the time we want to have a baby with this otherwise fantastic guy, we really dread having sex with him. It doesn’t feel good. We think about the single sex that was good. It makes us insecure in our relationship, which makes us wonder if we really want a baby, or if it’s just a matter of some peer pressure and phone calls from our mother.
For women trying to conceive, orgasms help us feel reassured that this family we envision creating is not a doomed project. They show us we have already started a family—a family of two—loving and strong. Communicating, exploring, being vulnerable and brave together allow us to be emotionally capable of reaching a deeper level of orgasm. The comfortability of passion we achieve inside that intimate connection is an ideal foundation for the conception of your baby.