Having spent over two years trying to get pregnant, I spent a lot of time doing research, and I am sharing what I found out.
If you are trying to get pregnant, or just thinking about trying, and you want to know when is the best time to get pregnant, then we will try and answer that question here.
This article will look into finding out for you when the best timing is in your cycle to try and conceive and hopefully give you more of an idea of when to have unprotected sex that might result in a pregnancy.
Everybody is different and your cycle may not fit into what is considered 'normal' so it is a good idea to have a more in-depth look into your cycles, especially if you are having trouble conceiving.
Timing is everything when you are trying to get pregnant and you need to be aware of the following facts in order to optimize your chances:
- You will usually only release one egg in each cycle and once released that egg will only live for around 24 hours before it dies off and can no longer be fertilized.
- Sperm, however, can live for up to four days inside the uterus and fallopian tubes and so that gives you the option of having sex a few days before you ovulate and still having a chance of getting pregnant.
- In a 'standard' cycle of 28 days, ovulation will take place on around day 14 of your cycle (day one is the day your period starts). So essentially you should be looking at having unprotected sex just before the middle of your cycle.
The key to getting pregnant is to find out when you are ovulating. As we said above, if you have a standard cycle of 28 days then you may ovulate on day 14. However, many people do not have that kind of standard cycle so you will need to figure out when you are ovulating.
If you are not sure when you may have ovulated then you may be able to figure that out by checking out this article about ovulation.
Ovulation depends on a number of things, but for most people, it will be 14 days before your period is due. So, for example, if you have a 30-day cycle then the most likely day of ovulation is day 16. But of course, this does not apply to everyone.
Once you know at which point in your cycle you are ovulating (and it can be pretty much any time between day 10–20+) then you can narrow down when it's going to be the best time to get pregnant.
The Egg and the Sperm
As I have said, the egg only lives for approximately 24 hours maximum after it is released, so you need to make sure you have sex before the egg has passed for that month.
But you do have the advantage that sperm can live up to 4-5 days so that then gives you a 6-day window of being able to get pregnant in each cycle. Clinical studies say that the fertile window is 5 days before and the day of ovulation.*
These studies also confirm that you are more likely to get pregnant either two days before ovulation or on the day of ovulation. In fact, in the study referred to above, the probability of being in your fertile window on day 12 of your cycle is 58% (i.e. 58% of women are fertile on day 12 and this is the highest percentage of any day in your cycle).
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Obviously, it is quite difficult to actually prove when you ovulated but there are methods that can be quite accurate to within a day or so, giving a good indication of when to have unprotected sex.
Peak Fertility Times
You could view your cycle as per the graphic above—although you are fertile for a reasonable window around your ovulation date, there is a peak fertility time which is just for a few days and if possible you should aim to have unprotected sex in this window.
How Often Should You Have Unprotected Sex?
If you are really not sure when you are ovulating, in order to cover your bases it is advisable to have unprotected sex every other day.
So if your cycle is 30 days, and the likelihood is that you are ovulating on day 16 then you should probably have unprotected sex on days 12, 14, 16 and 18 of your cycle.
If your cycle is usually 28 days then you should probably have unprotected sex on days 10, 12, 14 and 16 of your cycle (if you do not know exactly when you are ovulating).
You may think that you should have sex as often as possible but this does not always work to your advantage, because it may not give the sperm time to build up to a decent level again. This applies particularly to men with an average to low sperm count who ideally need 2 days for the sperm levels to recover fully.
If you know that your partner has a very high sperm count then you could have unprotected sex every day.
When Is Best?
So in summary, you need to figure out when you are ovulating in order to know the best time to get pregnant. If you guess when is the right time then you may be surprised to find that your timing is off.
Try and figure out what your body is doing and do not have sex too often if you don't have any idea of your partner's sperm levels.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2018 Jackie Grant