Couples planning a baby should have regular sex for 3 to 6 months before conception, to increase their chances of a healthy pregnancy, says a new study.
Researchers from The University of Adelaide suggest that a woman’s repeated exposure to her partners sperm and seminal fluid allows her immune system to build up a tolerance to the foreign fluid and be more receptive to a foetus in order to support a healthy pregnancy.
“We now know that an average of at least 3-6 months coitus with their partner is necessary to get her immune system to respond correctly to enable a healthy pregnancy,” said Professor Sarah Robertson, co-director of the University of Adelaide's Research Centre for Reproductive Health, according to ABC Science.
A study revealed that more frequent exposure to seminal fluid increases levels of a type of immune cell called a regulatory T cell, which has already been found to play a key role in helping the mother’s immune system tolerate the foetus.
Early research in humans suggests this may explain why women who conceive after less than three months of sexual cohabitation with the father-to-be have a significant increase in the risks of rejection, miscarriage and pre-eclampsia.
“It’s not so much about the likelihood of getting pregnant, it’s more about healthy progression of pregnancy. You’re more likely to have a healthy pregnancy if you’ve had some practice beforehand,” Robertson said.
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She believes that the research findings could lead to new advancements in assisted reproduction technology in the future.
“We would like to come up with new treatments and maybe even new drugs that could mimic the pathway and assist where there is some difficulty in getting the immune system to respond,” she explained.