how fast does sperm replenish after ejaculation
Couples facing infertility typically have a million questions. Although the vast majority of them – from which drugs and therapies work best to what kind of undergarments the “dad-to-be” should be wearing – are asked and answered with compassion and professionalism, here are also questions that often don’t get answered. Either no one can work up the courage to ask them, or because they just don’t seem relevant to conception.
“Despite the fact that infertility treatment is so closely linked to sexuality, this aspect of a couple’s life is often very uncomfortable for them to discuss,” explains Dr. Mark Leondires, M.D., Medical Director at Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT, and a leading authority on reproductive medicine. “We find that it’s the more personal questions involving a couple’s unique sexual practices or other habits that are more likely to go unasked…and unanswered,” Dr. Leondires adds.
The most embarrassing questions can be the most important ones.
According to Dr. Leondires, some of these uncomfortable questions need to be asked, because the answers can hold the key to helping couples achieve a healthy pregnancy more quickly. “Sometimes it’s the activity in question itself that should be modified or stopped in order to better the couple’s chances for pregnancy,” Dr. Leondires notes. His list of straight answers to infertility’s most uncomfortable questions includes:
1.QUESTION: Does having an orgasm help you to get pregnant?
ANSWER: “Not necessarily. During normal intercourse, the ejaculate fluid in which the sperm travel through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes is usually effective at doing its job. However, the uterine contractions that occur during orgasm may help or hinder the process, depending upon the direction of those contractions while the sperm is en route.”
2.QUESTION: Do we have to have sex every day while I’m trying to get pregnant?
ANSWER: “No. It can take up to 48-72 hours for a man’s sperm count to replenish after an ejaculation, having intercourse every day can actually decrease your chance of pregnancy. It is only important to have intercourse around your ovulatory phase for you to achieve pregnancy. For most women this occurs during the middle of the menstrual cycle, but you can confirm this using an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit, or by charting your basal body temperature (BBT).”
3. QUESTION: I get my period regularly, so I must be ovulating and fertile…right?
ANSWER: “if you are in the 90+% of women who have regular, ovulatory cycles. However, having a regular period that is anovulatory – meaning no ovulation occurs – is not completely uncommon. Again, to confirm ovulation you can use an OTC ovulation prediction kit or by tracking your BBT.”
4.QUESTION: Should I try to stop the sperm from leaking out after sex? If so, for how long?
ANSWER: “It may provide some benefit. What you are feeling is actually the ejaculate fluid. This fluid contains protective agents that support the sperm’s survival as it travels through the vagina. The ejaculate will break down and release the sperm in about 30 minutes after ejaculation. For this reason, it may be a good idea to remain reclined on your back with a pillow under your hips if it’s comfortable, for 30-45 minutes following intercourse.”
5.QUESTION: I think my husband masturbates sometimes. Should he stop while we’re trying to conceive?
ANSWER: “He should certainly try to modify the practice. While it is very normal for men to masturbate, a man’s sperm count will decrease with each ejaculation. In general, an optimal sperm count usually is achieved after about three days of abstinence. So, masturbation is not recommended for the three days prior to the beginning of your ovulatory phase. Also, if you are having fertility concerns, your partner should have a semen analysis.”
6.QUESTION: Is it okay to diet while trying to get pregnant? Is it safe to cut out Carbs?
ANSWER: “Some women have difficulty discussing dietary habits with their infertility doctors, sometimes because they fear that their weight is a contributing factor to their difficulty conceiving. Women of all shapes and sizes can achieve pregnancy. Of course, if your ‘biological clock’ permits, it is a better bet to attain a healthy weight prior to pregnancy. But in general, it’s safe to try to lose weight at the same time you are trying to achieve pregnancy. However, it is unsafe to diet while trying to conceive or while pregnant if you are already underweight and have abnormal menstrual cycles. Remember, it is recommended that most women attempting pregnancy eat a healthy diet, which includes consuming at least 20% carbohydrates. Pregnant women should also consume adequate amounts of folic acid, calcium and iron. While you can increase your dietary intake of these crucial vitamins and minerals, the easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough of them is to take a daily prenatal supplement.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF ASKING
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), about 10% of Americans of childbearing age experience infertility – defined as the inability to achieve and maintain a full-term pregnancy after one year of trying. The diagnosis is often devastating and stressful for both partners, Dr. Leondires notes. “The process of coping with – and receiving treatment for – infertility is a sensitive and intimate one.” He adds, “However, because patients and practitioners are on the same team, and share the same goal of achieving a healthy, full-term pregnancy, it’s critical that patients find a doctor with whom they can frankly discuss issues and ask questions.
“A knowledgeable, well-trained, expert physician is most important, but so is a compassionate, caring advocate. The best infertility specialists are both,” Dr. Leondires adds.
Dr. Mark P. Leondires, M.D., FACOG, is a leading authority on reproductive medicine. Dr. Leondires is board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. He is a member of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinologists, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Leondires earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. Dr. Leondires completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. After completion of his training, he fulfilled his military obligation by serving as the ART Director for the largest and most successful program in the military health care system at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. During this time he was an Assistant Professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and clinical faculty for the Combined Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology. Dr. Leondires is currently Medical Director and lead physician with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMA-CT) in Norwalk. Along with numerous teaching and research activities, Dr. Leondires has published articles in professional medical journals, national consumer magazines and newspapers, as well as abstracts and book chapters. More information about Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut is available at www.rmact.com.