It is not uncommon for couples to have a difficult time conceiving, but a new research study may suggest that having more sex can increase their chances of pregnancy. A recent study presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference revealed astounding success rates that could lead to future developments for couples struggling with infertility. The team of researchers found that sperm that was collected after a second ejaculation within an hour of the first proved to yield more than triple the success rate of conception.
Researchers at the North Middlesex Hospital conducted an experiment in 2014 involving 73 couples trying to conceive. The doctors performing the study used a fertility treatment method called Intrauterine Insemination, commonly called IUI. In the procedure, sperm samples were collected and inserted directly into the woman’s uterus, via a catheter. This method is much closer to a “natural” conception and differs from the popular In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where the sperm and egg are combined outside the body, with the resultant embryo later implanted into the woman’s uterus. The men in the experiment produced two sperm samples, with the second sample being produced within one hour of the first. Researchers found when the second of the sperm samples was used; pregnancy rates were three times as high, raising the success rate from six percent to 21 percent in just the first attempt at conception. 15 women in the study became pregnant after the first attempt with IUI, and 10 more women became pregnant after a second attempt the very next month. The results were an overall success rate of 34 percent.
While the findings from this recent study are certainly encouraging, there are two important conditions relating to the experiment to note. First, the men who participated in the study were classified as having subpar sperm, which improved from the first ejaculation to the second.
There has not been any research conducted to see if the same improvement is measured in men with normal sperm. Secondly, the women in the study were put on drugs that stimulated their fertility cycles. Before the study, the women switched from the drug Clomid (clomiphene citrate) to human Menopausal Gonadotropin (hMG). This change in drugs alone, independent of the quality of sperm used, has been known to improve fertility outcomes.
Future Insight: Increased Fertility from More Sex?
So does this mean that more sex means a higher chance of pregnancy? It may be too soon to jump to that conclusion. Doctors performing the study admit that the group tested was very small, and were managed with predetermined conditions for the study, such as subpar sperm and women already being on fertility drugs. However, there are some very important takeaway successes from the story.
For one, Dr. Galum Bahadur is hopeful that this study will carry future implications to those conceiving naturally. Dr. Bahadur said, “It would be reasonable to assume the same effect would apply to men trying to conceive naturally.” Also, the research seems to dispel the long held notion that men should conserve their sperm, thinking it more potent and couples should only engage in sex on the woman’s most fertile days of the month. This study proves quite the opposite and suggests that fresher samples of sperm actually improve the chances of conception.
The most encouraging news to come from this study though is for couples trying to conceive artificially. With the increased success rate of 21 percent on the first attempt, IUI could potentially be as successful as the popular IVF treatments, which average between 10 to 50 percent success rates. IUI is closer to natural conception and comes at one-tenth of the cost. The National Infertility Association quotes one IUI treatment to average $865 compared to one IVF treatment costing around $8,158.