Successful sperm

Dear Alice,

I am married. We would like to have a baby soon. Whenever I ejaculate in her vagina, most of the semen comes out within a minute. Is that remaining amount of semen enough to become pregnant? Please answer this question.

Dear Reader,

Although it may seem straightforward, trying to get pregnant can be a messy and confusing process! Here’s the down low on what happens when you get down: Each ejaculation produces 1.5 to 5.0 milliliters of semen, which contains 200 to 600 million sperm. To break down the count even further, each milliliter of semen carries about 20 to 150 million sperm. So, even though it may not seem like a lot of semen is making its way into the vagina, rest assured that after every ejaculation millions of sperm have just departed on their journey towards the egg. In addition to that, there are a number of strategies to employ to increase the chances of conception.

To increase your chances of getting pregnant, here are some tips for the two of you:

  • Have a lot of sex — at least two to three times a week (i.e., the more frequent the sex, the more chances for conception).
  • Try to have sex when your partner is nearing ovulation.
  • Avoid the use of vaginal lubricants (they may decrease fertility — this includes saliva as a lubricant).

Your female partner can also take some action to increase the likelihood of conception by:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a nutritious diet and physical activity (but avoiding overly strenuous exercise).
  • Keeping caffeine consumption to a minimum and managing stress.
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid.  

Lists adapted from the Mayo Clinic.

You and your partner may also find it helpful to speak with a gynecologist, obstetrician, or midwife for pre-pregnancy planning. Any of these professionals have the ability to make personalized suggestions to increase the likelihood of pregnancy for the two of you. Though you mention that you’d like to have a baby soon, it’s also good to realize that successful baby-making may just take some time. If you find that after some time you and your partner are still not pregnant — don’t fret! The information and strategies described in the Go Ask Alice! Q&A Trying to conceive — Why am I not pregnant yet? may be helpful in further exploring options for fertilization.

Best of luck to you both!

Last updated Jul 03, 2015
Originally published Mar 28, 1997

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