Couples who are trying to conceive know that success is all about timing. They focus their energy on having the most sex during a woman’s ovulation cycle to ensure she has the best chances of conceiving. But, what if having more sex all month long could also help a woman’s chances? Findings from a new study reveal that having more sex when a woman isn’t ovulating may cause changes in a woman’s immune system that increase her chances of becoming pregnant.
Research from the study conducted at Indiana University has found that sexual activity triggers physiological changes in the body that could be good news for women trying to conceive.
“It’s a common recommendation that partners trying to have a baby should engage in regular intercourse to increase the woman’s changes of getting pregnant — even during so-called ‘non-fertile’ periods — although it’s unclear how this works,” Lorenz said in a new press release. “This research is the first to show that the sexual activity may cause the body to promote types of immunity that support conception. It’s a new answer to an old riddle: How does sex that doesn’t happen during the fertile window still improve fertility?”
The team collected data across the menstrual cycle in 30 healthy women, about half of whom were sexually active and half of whom were abstinent. Of those participants, sexually active women experienced greater changes in helper T cells, and the proteins that T cells use to communicate. These cells manage the body’s immune system response to “foreign invaders in the body.”
“The female body needs to navigate a tricky dilemma,” Lorenz said. “In order to protect itself, the body needs to defend against foreign invaders. But if it applies that logic to sperm or a fetus, then pregnancy can’t occur. The shifts in immunity that women experience may be a response to this problem.”
These shifts in immunity were not observed in the sexually abstinent women.
If for some odd reason couples trying to conceive needed an excuse to have more sex, these findings would be a great one.