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Fertility Mythbuster: Could you be having sex too often?

By Senait Fisseha, MD

You’ve probably read or heard it before: having sex too often will reduce the potency of semen.

This concept of “saving” sperm in order to help increase chances of conception is understandably logical, but really quite scientifically flawed.

Here’s a frequent scenario we encounter in the office:  a couple is discussing intercourse with me, as they wish to have a baby. The wife is concerned they are having sex too much, or that occasional masturbation might be diluting the quality of her husband’s semen.  She wonders if less frequent sex or less frequent masturbation would help to improve the husband’s semen.

Does frequency of sex or masturbation affect the quality and volume of his sperm in terms of its ability to fertilize an egg?

Technically speaking – no. Unless there is another medical issue, a man cannot “run out” of sperm. Men always have enough sperm, if they are healthy, to ejaculate – for intercourse or otherwise.

So if we take the issue of “quantity” off the table, does frequency of sex or masturbation make a difference in terms of “quality” of sperm?

If there is another problem, such as low sperm counts or low motility, then the timing of sex to maximize sperm may come into play.  In this case, we recommend intercourse every other day to allow time to replenish the low count. But even this concept is now being challenged as researchers in Australia have shown that frequent intercourse may improve sperm quality.

The bottom line is that conception still comes down to having unprotected intercourse during the optimal time of a woman’s cycle.

How many times you’re having sex is not an issue, but rather that you’re making it a point to have sex at the right times.

For more information about services at the U-M Center for Reproductive Medicine, or to make an appointment, visit the Center for Reproductive Medicine website.

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Senait Fisseha, MD, JD, is the medical director for the University of Michigan Health System’s Center for Reproductive Medicine.  Her areas of specialty cover all aspects of infertility including: polycystic ovary syndrome, recurrent pregnancy loss, other endocrine disorders resulting in infertility; as well as assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF/ICSI, and gamete and embryo cryopreservation.

 

The University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine uses a multidisciplinary approach that brings the expertise of endocrinology and infertility specialists, OB-GYN’s, urologists, lab technicians and research scientists together to help each of our clients have access to the latest expertise and technology available – through one convenient center.