The Great Sperm Race explained the momentous journey sperm have to make to fertilize an egg. Around 250m sperm cells enter the vagina during ejaculation. Several thousand make it as far as the fallopian tubes, and just one fertilizes the egg. Quite an amazing feat given that the vagina is pretty hostile to invaders. Sperm have to overcome an acidic pH environment, an immune system that rejects foreign intruders, and a sophisticated selection process that admits only the highest quality specimens.
So, if you want to have a baby you need to put your energies into having the kind of ‘gourmet’ sex you enjoyed when you first met, i.e. plenty of foreplay, sexual excitement, and focusing on your partner’s pleasure as well as your own.
‘Sex often becomes a bit routine when you’re trying to conceive, and that’s the wrong way to go about it,’ Dr Alley Pacey, a senior lecturer in Andrology at Sheffield University, told the Observer last week.
Men who are really turned on prior to ejaculation produce more sperm, and higher quality sperm (there are varying degrees of sperm, all competing to get to the egg). According to research revealed in the documentary, men who are really turned on ejaculate 50% more sperm. A few more minutes of sexual activity can produce an extra 25m sperm and increase the chances of pregnancy, says Pacey. When a man is extremely turned on he will draw upon reserves of sperm, which are stored further back in the testicles.
For women, it’s thought that orgasms during intercourse can aid conception too. The contractions experienced during climax help to suck the sperm into the cervix up to the uterus.
So, if you’re trying for a baby, have sex two to three times a week, and don’t let him play with himself between sessions, says Pacey. It helps to have sex during ovulation but don’t become obsessive about it as sperm can survive in the reproductive area for around five days.
Other fertility tips, as suggested by Pacey include: –
• Not smoking – the chemicals in cigarette smoke damage sperm DNA.
• Getting checked for any STI’s as these can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes, affecting her chances of pregnancy.
• Avoiding steroids as these damage the testicles, hindering sperm production.
• Keeping a healthy body weight – research has found that men with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30+ have a lower sperm count.
• Eating your five-a-day – antioxidants in fruit and veg help protect sperm from free radicals in the body, which attack their DNA.
Presumably, similar principles apply for us ladies, too.
Well, I love the idea. I’m all for hot sex and spending time in bed. Unfortunately full time work, a toddler, disturbed sleep, and hot sex doesn’t really mix. It made me smile though, as I do remember being blown out of bed on one occasion, pretty soon after we’d got together and I did wind up pregnant. So, I can see the logic behind it.
There are clips from episode 1 and a review paper on the Channel 4 website.