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Sexual activity outside window of ovulation increases fertility, study says
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Engaging in sexual activity boosts a womans immune system, in turn increasing their chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study. - photo by Natalie Crofts
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana Couples hoping to get pregnant shouldnt focus on having intercourse only while a woman is ovulating, according to a new study.

Engaging in sexual activity boosts a womans immune system, in turn increasing her chances of getting pregnant, according to research from Indiana University. Scientists reported that even when intercourse occurred outside the window of ovulation, it triggered physiological changes in the womans body.

"It's a common recommendation that partners trying to have a baby should engage in regular intercourse to increase the womans chances of getting pregnant even during so-called 'non-fertile' periods although its unclear how this works," researcher Tierney Lorenz said in a statement.

"This research is the first to show that the sexual activity may cause the body to promote types of immunity that support conception, she continued. Its a new answer to an old riddle: How does sex that doesnt happen during the fertile window still improve fertility?"

While collecting data from 30 healthy women, researchers said they noticed that the women who were sexually active about half of the group experienced greater changes in helper T cells and related proteins than those who were abstinent.

Specifically, researchers found significantly more type 2 helper T cells in sexually active women. The type 2 cells are known to help womens bodies accept sperm or an emerging embryo, which the immune system could otherwise identify as a foreign invader. The study reports that researchers also identified higher levels of type 1 helper T cells, immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin B during different phases of a womans menstrual cycle if she was sexually active.

"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 cant occur. The shifts in immunity that women experience may be a response to this problem."

Findings from the study were published in the journal Fertility and Sterility and the journal Physiology and Behavior. Researchers said the finding could also be helpful for working with people who have autoimmune disorders.