Whether or not female orgasm can help you get pregnant is unclear. Obviously, you can get pregnant without a female orgasm. It happens all the time. But can having an orgasm boost your chances of conception?
Researchers have wondered about the purpose of the female orgasm in humans for quite some time. Some theorize it's just for fun, while others say it definitely helps with conception. If female orgasms can help you conceive, how might it work? Should you aim for an orgasm during babymaking sex?
Theories About Female Orgasms
There are three main hypotheses on how female orgasm may help with getting pregnant.
Proposed by zoologist Desmond Morris in 1967, the poleaxe hypothesis states that the purpose of female orgasms is to tire women out, causing them to lie down after sex. The idea is that this makes it easier for sperm to reach their destination.
However, it isn't clear whether or not lying down after sex can help you get pregnant. Studies have been inconclusive, although one study of IUI treatment found that women who remained horizontal after insemination were more likely to conceive.
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Another theory of how female orgasm may help with pregnancy achievement is called the upsuck theory. This hypothesis is that the contractions of the uterus that happen with orgasm help "suck up" the semen that gets deposited in the vagina, near the cervix. The orgasm then helps to move the sperm through the uterus and fallopian tubes.
One study actually measured the amount of semen "flowback" (how much semen leaked out after sex). They discovered that when female orgasm occurred a minute or less before male ejaculation, sperm retention was greater. If female orgasm didn't happen within a minute of male ejaculation—before male ejaculation, specifically—lower sperm retention occurred.
What if orgasm happened after male ejaculation? Researchers found that as long as the woman has an orgasm up to 45 minutes after, sperm retention was higher. This study did not, however, look at pregnancy rates. If pregnancy rates are higher with female orgasm, it's unclear by how much.
There is another theory on why female orgasm exists. This theory posits that female orgasms were once important to conception, but no longer play such a vital role.
Today, ovulation occurs on a monthly schedule, whether or not a person has sex. But in earlier humans, could female orgasm have triggered ovulation? This is how it works in some mammals. For example, with cats, if they don't copulate, they don't ovulate.
Clitoral stimulation induces feelings of pleasure, along with a release of hormones and muscular contractions. Those hormones and contractions might have signaled the ovaries to release an egg in ancestral humans.
As humans evolved, and ovulation began to occur regularly, and without sexual stimulation, the clitoris moved further away from the vaginal canal. This doesn't mean female orgasm has no purpose in conception, but it does imply its significance decreased.
Orgasm Frequency and Fertility Potential
There doesn't yet exist a study directly tying female orgasm to conception. However, one study examined the connection between women's orgasm rater and the number of children they have.
In this study, 8,000 female twins and siblings were surveyed. Participants were asked how often they had sex, their frequency of orgasm, whether they had difficulty achieving orgasm, and how many biological offspring they had.
Researchers found that there was a weak but significant correlation between orgasm rate and the number of offspring. But once environmental factors were accounted for, that connection disappeared. There also seemed to be no genetic connection between orgasm rate and fertility rates. According to this study, your ability (or inability) to orgasm won't impact your fertility.
Foreplay and Male Fertility
Longer foreplay and a higher level of sexual arousal before ejaculation have been shown to increase sperm counts in some research studies. Taking time to bring a woman to orgasm may improve semen parameters. Researchers wondered what the possible biological purpose of cunnilingus (oral sex on a woman) might be for reproduction.
Both humans and some animals perform oral sex, which you might assume has little to do with reproduction. However, they found that performing cunnilingus increased the volume of semen produced by the male during later sexual intercourse.
Orgasm, Ovulation, and Pregnancy
Regardless of whetherorgasm can help you conceive, ovulation and pregnancy do impact orgasm.
Higher levels of estrogen are also responsible for the increase in cervical fluids (also known as cervical mucus). Those fluids create an ideal environment for sperm to survive and swim, but, in addition to that, the wet feeling increases sexual desire and makes orgasm more likely.
Your sex drive is stronger and you may be more likely to experience orgasm in the days just before ovulation. This is due to increased estrogen levels.
Both during ovulation and pregnancy, orgasm can be more intensely felt because of the increased blood flow to the pelvic area. The increase in blood flow and pelvic engorgement is more pronounced during pregnancy, and some women experience orgasm for the first time when they are expecting.
Can orgasm during pregnancy be harmful to your baby? This is a common fear, but usually unwarranted. Unless you have a specific medical problem, and your doctor hassuggested forgoing sex or sexual climax, you don't need to worry about having an orgasm during pregnancy.
Orgasm is safe for your baby, and good for your emotional and physical well-being.
A Word From Verywell
Orgasm may or may not help you get pregnant. But there are plenty of good reasons to have an orgasm! Orgasm is fun, pleasurable, and an excellent stress buster. However, if your desire for orgasm is completely wrapped up in your desire to get pregnant, you may feel pressured. This can lead to you having difficulty achieving orgasm, adding frustration to your babymaking.
The best way to improve your chances of orgasm during sex? Try to just enjoy the intimate time with your partner. No goals, no pressured orgasms, no guilt. If you have an orgasm, great. If not, that's okay, too.
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Custers IM, Flierman PA, Maas P, et al. Immobilisation versus immediate mobilisation after intrauterine insemination: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2009;339:b4080. doi:10.1136/bmj.b4080
King R, Dempsey M, Valentine KA. Measuring sperm backflow following female orgasm: a new method. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2016;6:31927. doi:10.3402/snp.v6.31927
Baker RR, Bellis MA. Human sperm competition: ejaculate manipulation by females and a function for the female orgasm. Animal Behaviour. 1993;46(5):887-909. doi:10.1006/anbe.1993.1272
Zietsch BP, Santtila P. No direct relationship between human female orgasm rate and number of offspring. Animal Behaviour. 2014;86(2):253-255. doi:j.anbehav.2013.05.011
By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
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