When is the best time to get pregnant? There is no definite answer to this question. It solely depends on you and your partner. If you plan to have a family, understanding your ovulation time and reproductive health are the key since it will indicate the right time to achieve a successful conception.
In terms of sex, you can follow these tips to improve your chances, as per research:
- Have sex every day, given your partner has a strong sperm count.
- Have sex often when you are at peak fertility, typically for a period of four days.
- Have sex on and two days prior to ovulation.
If you are curious to know more, read on! We will tell you all about getting pregnant, including factors affecting the chances of conceiving, tips to enhance fertility, and achieving proper timing for intercourse.
When Is The Best Time To Get Pregnant?
Having sex during the six-day fertile window — the five days that lead to ovulation and the day of ovulation — is highly effective to get pregnant (1).
Now, let us understand how sex during ovulation would work to help you conceive:
Fertile window: Sperm can live inside the woman’s reproductive tract for three to five days, but an egg can live for just 12 to 24 hours. This is why the egg needs to be fertilized within this timeframe. Moreover, freshly ejaculated sperm cannot fertilize the egg until it undergoes capacitation (a series of changes that happen inside the reproductive tract of a woman to make sperm more mobile and penetrate through the egg) (2). It usually takes about 10 hours for this process to happen. The five days before ovulation are, therefore, important for the sperm to fertilize the egg.
Having a mature sperm ready for the egg is the key for conception.
Is the day of ovulation right for you to get pregnant?
There is a belief that the ovulation day is the best day to conceive. Researchers have studied the relationship between the timing of intercourse and ovulation to find which days would be most fertile for a woman to conceive. The research findings in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine say that the day of ovulation is not the best day to conceive. Then, when am I fertile?
1. Sex one day before ovulation
The day before ovulation is one of the better days to conceive as compared to the day of ovulation. This is primarily because the sperm has enough time to undergo the capacitation process and hence, is mature enough to reach and fertilize the egg.
2. Sex two days before ovulation
Two days before ovulation is also a good time for conception. In fact, you are more likely to get pregnant if you have sexual intercourse two days before ovulation than a day before.
3. Sex three to four days before ovulation
By having sexual intercourse three to four days before ovulation, you will have higher chances of getting pregnant when compared to having sex on the day of ovulation.
4. Sex five days before ovulation
The first day of the fertile window is also ideal but it is less effective than the remaining four days before ovulation.
In short, two days before ovulation and the day of ovulation are the most fertile days of your menstrual cycle.
To determine your ovulation period, you need to try the ovulation calculator.
Calculating Ovulation: Know Your Fertile Days
Knowing your ovulation day is important. The ovulation period in any given menstrual cycle depends on the length of the cycle and regularity of your periods. The menstrual cycle can be between 22 and 36 days (3). You ovulate 12 to 14 days before the cycle ends.
- If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, you will ovulate on the 14th day. This is the best time to get pregnant before your next period, or after your period.
- However, if you have a shorter cycle (21 days), you will ovulate on the seventh day.
- On the other hand, if your menstrual cycle is for 35 days, you would ovulate on the 21st day of your cycle.
If your menstrual cycle varies from month to month, the fertile window would also vary.
Therefore, it is advisable to have sexual intercourse every two to three days throughout the cycle. It will be more effective than waiting for the days of ovulation. Moreover, having intercourse regularly will improve the quality of the sperm.
How Do You Know If You Are Ovulating?
You can, sometimes, know when you are ovulating, but at the other times ovulation can go unnoticed. Understand your body and track your menstrual cycle for a couple of months. The best time of the month to conceive would be when you look for signs such as:
- Vaginal mucus turning thin, stretchy, clear and slippery.
- Mild discomfort at one side of the tummy, also known as mittelschmerz.
- Increase in basal body temperature (BBT), which you can determine by noting down the temperature every morning after you wake up, once your period ends. The BBT increases a day after ovulation. Keeping track of BBT over a few cycles will help you understand the pattern.
- The cervix turns softer and opens slightly during the fertile period.
Do Irregular Periods Affect Your Conception?
Ideally, women have 12 periods in a year. However, some may have fewer or skipped months. Abrupt weight gain or loss, stress, exercises, thyroid disorder, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and ovarian dysfunction, can all interrupt your periods.
The more irregular your periods are, the tougher it will be to estimate ovulation. However, you may try to predict to know the best days, or even dates for conceiving:
- Look for the changes in the fertile cervical mucus (vaginal discharge). Have sexual intercourse when you are likely to notice two or more days of slippery and stretchy mucus. Alternatively, have regular intercourse throughout your cycle (4).
- Ovulation predictor kits may help in detecting the ovulation period. The tests are positive when there is an LH surge (a sudden and brief rise in the luteinizing hormone), which is the trigger for releasing the egg. LH surge happens 24-48 hours before ovulation. You will be most fertile over the next three days of LH surge. Therefore, you can have sex every day over the next three to four days (5).
- Record your menstrual cycle for eight or more months. Take the shortest cycle, and subtract 18 from it (for instance 25-day cycle minus 18), and 11 from the longest cycle (35-day cycle minus 11). The resulting difference (day 7 to day 24) will be your most fertile days to get pregnant.
If your menstrual cycles are continuously irregular, fertility tracking becomes more difficult and you should see your healthcare provider without any delay. Also you need to inform your doctor if you have taken any medically assisted birth control measures prior to the conception due to delayed family planning.
Lindsay Brooke, a mother, provides some helpful tips on preparing for pregnancy in her video. She says, “I came off of birth control when we started trying to conceive and gave myself a whole month of just getting ready to start trying. You have to have your normal cycle (menstrual cycle) come back if you didn’t have one while on birth control. I also took daily supplements, including multivitamins with folic acid, for about a year and a half.
“I tracked my ovulation with several apps and ovulation test kits. I started tracking my ovulation as soon as I got my cycle back for the whole month. On day 16, I saw that the second line on the ovulation test was dark or darker than the other lines, which means the LH (Luteinizing hormone) levels have surged, and you are most fertile 24 hours after that. So, that’s when you have the best chance of having a baby (i).”
What Factors Can Affect Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant?
In spite of your efforts, your pregnancy could be delayed due to certain factors:
1. The older you are, the fewer are the chances
A woman’s fertility starts decreasing from the early 30s. Though most women do not have any problem conceiving in their 30s, fertility usually declines significantly after 35 years. The changes that occur in her ovaries and eggs make it difficult to get pregnant.
Age and fertility are correlated, a man’s fertility also decreases with age. As he ages, the sperm count comes down along with his sexual abilities. However, men can boost their libido by taking a special diet rich in zinc, selenium, vitamin E, maintaining proper weight and abstaining from tobacco and alcohol. According to the WHO, infertility affects almost one in every six people of reproductive age globally.
2. Lifestyle has an influence
Lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, unusual weight, and stress can affect your fertility. Also, some medications and vaginal lubricants may impair your ability to conceive. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor before you use any of them.
3. Have sex frequently
Persistence pays significantly. If you want to get pregnant, you need to indulge in frequent sex. Having sexual intercourse every two to three days would give a chance for the sperm to fertilize the egg. If ovulation is regular, conception becomes easier. The less frequent your lovemaking is, the lower are the chances to get pregnant.
4. Balanced mental state
Take pleasure in everything you do and remain confident. Overwork, stress, obesity and frustration can affect your chances of becoming pregnant. Hence you need to find a balanced approach to your life through proper stress management, rest, and relaxation.
So, is there a way to increase your chances of pregnancy?
Tips To Improve Fertility
Follow these tips:
- Healthy balanced diets with the right nutrition are necessary to improve your fertility.
- Do not panic as it can affect your body and mind.
- Enjoy sex. The fertile window calculations and checking the basal body temperature can just kill your romance. You would end up having sex not for pleasure but the baby.
- Make sure there is a high emotional bonding between you and your partner. The more it is, the higher are your chances.
- Exercise but let it be moderate. A healthy body produces the required hormones for improving fertility. Maintaining optimal hormonal balance is the key.
- Pay attention to your preconception health by cutting down obesity. It is not at all healthy and affects the fertility rate.
Do Sexual Positions Help You Get Pregnant?
Positions will not affect your chances of conception but having an orgasm would help. You might have heard that certain positions, such as missionary, help in conceiving. But, there is no evidence to support such claims.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I get pregnant right after my period?
Since you are nearing your fertility window, it is possible to get pregnant right after your period, depending on your period span. Since the most fertile phase is from day 11 to 21, and the life span of a sperm is five days, you could get pregnant even seven days after a period (6).
2. What should I avoid when trying to get pregnant?
If you are trying to conceive, avoid smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs. Further, consult a doctor before conception for advice on what to limit based on your health condition and how to modify your current dietary patterns (7).
3. How does using birth control impact the best time to get pregnant?
The use of birth control pills that contain a combination of estrogen and progestin tends to stop ovulation, thus preventing conception. These require a period of one to three months after being withdrawn before a woman can conceive naturally. However, mini-pills that contain Progestin-only require a latency period of weeks post-withdrawal for conception as they only thin the uterus walls enough not to let a fertilized egg get implanted (11).
The best time to get pregnant is the fertile window, five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. Knowing ovulation signs and using ovulation test kits or calendars could help determine the fertile window. Also, recent genetic testing techniques like reproductive endocrinology can assess data to treat infertility. The chances of pregnancy are high for the couple who have unprotected sexual intercourse three days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. Sperms can survive inside the female genital tract for three to five days, and the ovum is viable for 24 hours so that you may plan pregnancy according to your ovulation dates.
Infographic: Reasons For Decreasing Chances Of Pregnancy
Many factors influence women’s fertility and reduce their chances of getting pregnant; however, some simple tips can be effective if no medical condition is involved. Check out the infographic below to learn some possible reasons affecting pregnancy chances and valuable tips to improve your possibility of conceiving.
- Having sex during the six-day fertile window increases the chances of pregnancy.
- The timing of ovulation in a menstrual cycle is determined by the cycle length and regularity of periods.
- Indicators of ovulation include thin, stretchy, clear, and slippery vaginal mucus, a rise in basal body temperature, a softer cervix, and mild abdominal discomfort.
- To estimate ovulation with irregular periods, observe changes in mucus, use ovulation kits, and track menstrual cycles for eight months.
- Age, lifestyle, frequency of sex, and mental state can influence the probability of conception.
Personal Experience: Source
- A J Wilcox et al.; (2000); The timing of the ”fertile window” in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study.
- Sperm Capacitation.
- Richard J . Fehring et al.; (2006); Variability in the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle.
- Emily Evans-Hoeker et al.; (2013); Cervical mucus monitoring prevalence and associated fecundability in women trying to conceive.
- Ovulation home test.
- Can you get pregnant on your period?
- 12 things to do when trying for a baby.
- Ovulation; Cleveland Clinic
- Conception Tips; Fertility Network
- Lifestyle and Fertility; Fertility Network UK
- When to Stop Birth Control Before Trying to Conceive; Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health