Planning Sex Can Help You Increase Your Chances Of Becoming Pregnant
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
Meredith Shur, MD, FACOG, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as a certified medical examiner.
Verywell / Jessica Olah
If you want to get pregnant faster, it’s important to know when you should have sex, how frequently to have sex, and whether there are factors that can increase or decrease your chances of becoming pregnant each month.
You’re most likely to conceive just before or during ovulation, but you can get pregnant at any time during your menstrual cycle, even if you are having your period. This is one of the reasons that birth control methods like the “rhythm method” are not reliable in preventing pregnancy.
Helpful facts to know include that while unprotected sex doesn’t lead to pregnancy every time, you can become pregnant if you have sex just one time if the timing is right. In general, fertility declines with age, and teenagers are far more likely to become pregnant with only one or a few sexual encounters than older people are.
Basal Body Temperature Chart
BBT is a womans temperature when she first wakes up in the morning. During ovulation, hormones raise the BBT. Basal body temperature charting and tracking is another affordable way to monitor ovulation.
How to chart BBT:
- When progesterone levels rise during ovulation it raises body temperature by about 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- An increase for several days may indicate ovulation has occurred.
- Using the BBT does not predict ovulation, it merely charts when it has happened.
- After charting BBT for a few months, a pattern of probable ovulation should appear.
When Will I Ovulate
Ovulation usually occurs between day 11 and day 21 of the menstrual cycle. Each menstruating person ovulates on their own schedule. You’ve probably heard that ovulation occurs on day 14 of your cycle, but that’s just an average benchmark. In fact, even people with 28-day menstrual cycles don’t always ovulate on day 14. One study found that fewer than 10% of menstruating people with 28-day cycles were ovulating on day 14.
Usually, when a person says they’re ovulating, they’re referring to the especially fertile period of two to three days that precede ovulation. If we assume ovulation occurs somewhere between day 11 and day 21, this extra fertile period can occur as early as day 9 of the menstrual cycle and as late as day 22. That’s a wide range! This is why if you want to conceive, it can help to track your own ovulation and fertility signs each cycle.
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When Does Implantation Happen
After fertilization, the new zygote travels down the fallopian tube and goes through tremendous changes. It develops into a morula and then a blastocyst. Once it reaches the blastocyst stage, its ready to implant in the uterine lining and continue growing into an embryo.
Implantation is essential to achieve pregnancy. Without it, the blastocyst will break down and be expelled with the rest of the uterine lining during your period.
As for timing, implantation usually happens between days 6 and 10 days after fertilization. Symptoms you may experience are mild and include things like cramping and light spotting. Some women may notice no symptoms at all, however.
Once the implanted embryo starts producing hormones , pregnancy symptoms may begin.
The earliest symptoms include:
If you experience these symptoms or otherwise think you might be pregnant, its a good idea to take a home pregnancy test.
Is Having Sex Every Day Bad When Trying To Conceive
On the other hand, having sex too often can also cause potential problems, says Dr. Wood. “If it’s for reproductive purposes alone, having sex multiple times a day or even every single day could cause ‘burnout,’ and the couple may begin to view sex as little more than a pre-ovulatory chore,” he explains.
According to one study, abstaining from sex for as little as one to two days helped to increase peak quality sperm, so taking breaks from sex might actually be a good thing.
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Signs Of Ovulation To Watch For
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to watch for ovulation signs. Most women ovulate about halfway through their menstrual cycle. That means if you have a 28-day cycle, you can expect to ovulate around day 14. But if your periods are irregular, it can be more challenging. You’ll want to also be alert to the signs of ovulation. There are two main signs to watch for:
- Changes in cervical mucus. Just before you ovulate, you’ll notice that you produce more mucus that’s thin and slippery . Right after ovulation, it decreases and thickens. If you want to get pregnant, have intercourse at least every other day when you notice the thin and slippery cervical mucus.
- An increase in your basal body temperature . Your BBT is your body’s temperature at rest. It increases by half a degree to a degree during ovulation and remains there until your next period. Your most fertile days are the two to three days before this temperature increase. You can keep tabs on your BBT if you take your temperature every morning before you get up. While this temperature spike occurs too late to make a baby, you can use this information to time sex going forward.
/6the Right Time Of The Month To Have Sex To Pregnant
Not every day is the same for women to conceive, as they have some days which are considered to most fertile. This fertile window includes five days before the ovulation and to the day of ovulation.
The two days you ovulate and the day of ovulation have the highest probability of conception. Having sex on these days gives you the greatest odds of conceiving.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
People with obesity or those with too little body fat may also experience decreases in fertility.
If you are trying to get pregnant, it may help to maintain a healthy weight for your height. A healthy weight is different for everyone, so if youre not sure what a healthy weight for you is, a health professional or dietician may be able to help you figure out what your body needs to maintain a healthy weight .
Menstrual Cycles Are Always 28 Days Long And Every Woman Ovulates On Day 14
The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but every woman is unique and nearly 50% of womens cycles vary in length by 7 days or more1. In a recent study of over 800 women, only 14% of women with a 28 day cycle actually ovulated on day 14. The day of ovulation ranged from day 11 to day 20.2 As menstrual cycles vary in length, so does the timing of ovulation, so it can be difficult to know .
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What To Look For
Most people who menstruate experience certain symptoms around the time of ovulation. Some symptoms may appear several days before ovulation, while others won’t happen until the day before or day of ovulation. These symptoms include changes in sexual desire, an increase in cervical mucus, and sometimes, crampy pain.
One way to detect ovulation is by measuring basal body temperature, or your temperature when you’re completely at rest. By taking your temperature first thing every morning, before you get out of bed, and charting the results, you can look for the telltale rise that signals impending ovulation.
Another option is to use ovulation test kits. These tests work a lot like pregnancy tests, in that they detect a particular hormone in your urine. When you get a positive result on an ovulation test, you’re approaching ovulation, and you should have sex if you’re trying to conceive.
Be aware that not all ovulation kits are highly accurate and some may be difficult to interpret. In fact, studies show that the reliability of these products ranges from 19% to 99% and that mistiming sex is a key contributing factor in some couples’ infertility challenges. So, be sure to vet the accuracy of any test you use. Another option is to have sex every other day over the entire course of your possible fertile days.
The most accurate way to determine ovulation is via a transvaginal ultrasound with an OB-GYN or healthcare provider at a fertility clinic.
Luteinizing Hormone Level Monitoring
Urine-analysis kits available over the counter track changes in LH levels, which typically surge 12-36 hours before ovulation. Unlike other ovulation monitoring methods, LH monitoring predicts ovulation before it happens, which is the optimal time to have sex to conceive.
How to monitor LH levels:
- Start testing a couple of days prior to expected ovulation, which is typically on days 13-15 of the menstrual cycle for women with a normal 28-day cycle.
- For irregular cycles, testing should coincide with the latest and earliest possible dates of ovulation.
- With five consecutive days of testing, theres an 80 percent chance of detecting ovulation, and a 95 percent chance with 10 days of testing.
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Ovulation And Fertile Window
It is recommended to try and have sex during ovulation to maximise your chances. Ovulation usually occurs around 12 to 16 days before your period. Many people use kits or apps to help track their ovulation so they can prepare for their fertile window. If neither of you have been diagnosed with any male or female sub-fertility conditions and both of your libidos are high, you may elect to have sex every day for this small window to help improve the chances, as the egg only lives for 12-24 hours after it has been released. However, please bear in mind that sperm can survive in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days this is why doctors and fertility specialists consider that having sex every 2-3 days is enough, as in this case, sperm is likely to be present when the egg is released.
Tracking ovulation can be very useful, but for some couples it can feel like a chore and overwhelming. Having a set date can build unwanted pressure and anticipation. If you think this applies to you, then know that by having sex every 2 or 3 days you will be having intercourse at least once during your fertile window and, therefore improving your chances to conceive naturally.
What Is The Date Of Conception
Conception occurs after ovulation, when the sperm meets the egg. For instance, if you had intercourse on the 5th of the month, and you did not ovulate until the 8th of the month, the conception will occur on or just after the 8th. If you have a 28 day-cycle, conception is known to occur between 11 and 21 days after the first day of your LMP. As most of us do not know the date of conception, it is taken as an estimate based on the LMP method.
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When Is The Best Time Of The Day To Have Sex To Get Pregnant
No specific time of the day is associated with a greater chance of pregnancy. Nevertheless, some people wonder if having sex in the early morning will help them conceive faster. The idea that morning sex may facilitate conception is often based on the belief that sperm conditions change throughout the day. Does this match the research? Lets take a look.
Several groups of scientists have investigated how different sperm parameters may change depending on the time of day. Some of them suggest that sperm count might rise in the morning, which means there might be more sperm to fertilize the egg. However, the reported difference is only slight.
Another study found that sperm count and motility may increase in the afternoon. In other words, sperm may be more abundant and mobile, increasing their likelihood of reaching the egg in the evening.
Having Sex During Your Fertile Time
If you’re happy to spend time tracking and detecting ovulation, then you can be sure to have sex during your most fertile time.
If sperm counts are normal or healthy, then it’s best to have sex every day that you:
- Have fertile cervical mucus
- Have a positive ovulation detecting test
- Have a positive saliva ferning test
If you chart your basal body temperature, you can know the approximate day you ovulated each monthbut only after the fact. In this case, you should have sex for the three days before you expect to ovulate and possibly on the day you expect to ovulate, too.
However, you should still have sex throughout your cycle, just to keep the sperm quality in tip-top shape. You should also aim to provide time to enjoy sex without a baby-making mission attached.
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How To Know When Youre Ovulating
Knowing when you ovulate can help you plan for sex at the right time and improve your chance of getting pregnant. You can keep track of your menstrual cycles on a chart, in a diary, or on a free period-tracker app on your smartphone.
To work out the length of your menstrual cycle, record the first day you start bleeding . This is day 1. The last day of your cycle is the day before your next period begins.
Some people think the menstrual cycle and a period are the same thing.
A period is when you bleed .
A menstrual cycle starts on the day when a period starts and ends the day before the next period. A cycles length is considered normal if its between 21 and 35 days. They can vary between women and from one cycle to the next.
- Working out your average menstrual cycle length
If your menstrual cycles are different lengths you can work out your average cycle length.
The number of days in a womans menstrual cycle can vary month to month. Periods are not always regular. It can be useful to work out an average cycle length, based on the length of three menstrual cycles, to estimate when youre most likely to be ovulating.
If you add the number of days in three cycles and divide the total number by three, it gives you your average cycle length.
Sarah tracked her last three menstrual cycles by counting the time from the first day of one period, to the day before the next period.
Cycle 1 was 28 days Cycle 2 was 32 days Cycle 3 was 27 days
28 + 32 + 27 = 87
Guidelines For Timing Intercourse
Here are some guidelines for when and how often to have sexual intercourse:
- Having sex at least twice a week increases the probability of pregnancy
- Having sex only once a week drops the likelihood of getting pregnant by 15 percent from the average
- Long periods of abstinence can decrease the quality of the mans sperm, which impacts male fertility
- The optimal time for intercourse is just prior to a womans ovulation after ovulation pregnancy is less likely to occur
- A woman should understand when she might ovulate, which is explained below having sex every day or two during a womans mid cycle results in the best chance of conception
- The more you have sex, the more likely you are to have it during the prime fertility window
Struggling to get pregnant? Make an appointment with one of our reproductive endocrinologists.
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How To Determine The Best Time To Have Sex To Conceive
Watching ovulation signs, such as a slight increase in BBT, changes in cervical mucus, and increased sex drive, can help determine the best time to have sex to boost chances of becoming pregnant.
In addition, having sex during the fertile window increases the chances of conception. During this timeframe, the body is ready to receive sperm for fertilization.
How To Calculate Your Safe Days
To calculate safe days, you first need to understand the different phases of your menstrual cycle. There are three
The follicular phase
The ovulation phase
The luteal phase
The duration of each of the phases varies for women, although it is believed that the average menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days. The first day of the bleeding counts as the first day of the new menstrual cycle.
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You Can Only Conceive On Two Days Each Cycle
This is not true. The ‘fertile window’ lasts up to 6 days. You are at your most fertile the day you ovulate and the day before. However, because sperm can survive for up to five days, having sex on the days leading up to ovulation can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
- Clearblue can help you pinpoint up to four days when you are most fertile.
What To Do If You’re Struggling To Determine The Best Days To Conceive
You’ve been checking for CM and charting your BBT, but for some reason, it seems that you’re not ovulating every month or not at all. If you think you’re not ovulating, check in with your OB/GYN.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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