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22 August 2001
Good Sex Makes Babies
by George Atkinson

Fewer sperm were found in the cervix of women reporting less pleasurable sex with their partners than those reporting more stimulating intercourse. The findings, reported by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, suggest that the quality of women's sexual response may facilitate the migration of sperm from the vaginal pool to the cervical and uterine environment.

A favorable sexual response may be important for sperm migration because it may include behavioral responses (i.e. orgasmic contractions) that facilitate sperm motility towards the site of conception and may include physiological responses that make the vaginal environment more suitable for sperm survival (e.g. reduction in vaginal acidity). If the number of sperm in the cervical mucus is an important predictor of future fertility, then the findings may have important implications for infertile couples. For such couples, love-making frequently occurs under stressful conditions as it is determined by the fertile period rather than sexual desire.

The combined effects of borderline fertility with such stress may be sufficient to impoverish the couple's sexual response and effect a reduction in fertility.

The study was carried out as part of a routine medical investigation women attending an infertility clinic were asked to undergo the post-coital test (PCT). For this test couples have intercourse and then return to the surgery within two to three hours of this encounter for a medical evaluation. During the evaluation the cervical mucus and the number of sperm surviving in the mucus are examined. The post-coital test provides information about the ability of sperm to reach and survive in the cervix which is the gateway to the uterine and fallopian environment. The purpose of the study was to examine whether the quality of women's sexual response during sexual intercourse engaged in for the purposes of the PCT was related to the outcome of this medical evaluation. After women arrived at the clinic they completed a series of questionnaires on their usual sexual reactions and their sexual and emotional reactions during the sexual encounter engaged in for purposes of the post-coital test. After completing the questionnaire women underwent the post-coital medical evaluation.

The next step is to understand the biochemical changes that occur during sexual arousal which may improve sperm survival in the reproductive tract.




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