When you are trying to make a baby, timing is everything. Whenever you have unprotected sex there is a chance you could get pregnant, but the chance is a lot better during particular times of the month. The best time to have intercourse is during what is known as the “fertile window” of a woman’s menstrual cycle, which is different for each woman.
The fertile window in a woman’s menstrual cycle refers to the five days that happen before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. Those six days reflect the lifespan of the sperm and the lifespan of the egg. Therefore, if a woman has sex five days or less before she ovulates, she has a higher chance of getting pregnant.
If the woman has sex in the three days leading up to and including ovulation, she has a 27-33% chance of becoming pregnant1. This is the most likely period of fertility for the woman. Understanding your cycle means that you can take advantage of this fertile time and have sex with your partner during those days, so that you have the best possible chance of conceiving that month.
What is Ovulation and How Can You Track It?
Ovulation is what happens when the mature egg is released from the ovary and starts to travel down the fallopian tube. This is when the egg is available within the fallopian tube, just waiting to be fertilised. When this is happening, it is the prime time for a woman to conceive because everything is in place for the sperm to connect with the egg.
It is possible to track your ovulation so that you know when this is happening. You can do this by working out the length of your own average cycle of menstruation, starting from the first day of your menstrual period. Count up to the day before the next period begins, which is the last day of the cycle.
Generally, ovulation will happen around two weeks before the next expected period. So, let’s say for example that your menstrual cycle is 28 days. That means that you will be ovulating around day 14. However, sperm can live for up to 3-6 days whereas the egg can only live for 12-24 hours’ when it’s released2. So, since the most fertile days are the ones leading up to and including ovulation and sperm’s adaptability to survive for several days the best days to try to conceive would be day 12, 13, and 14.
In order to figure this out for yourself, you need to understand your own cycle. Most women have a 28 day cycle, but some women have a 32 day cycle or anywhere in between. Your cycle will be unique to you, so it is important to figure it out rather than guessing on which day you will be the most fertile. The formula would be: your total days in your cycle minus 14 days (to get your ovulating day) and then minus off another 2 days (the optimal time for sperm to interact with the egg as soon as it’s ovulated).
Once you figure out your fertile days, it is best to have intercourse every other day during those days. It is said that if you have intercourse every day, your partner might not produce enough sperm each time. You don’t want to space it out too much or the sperm might not be viable. Every other day is just about the right interval to maximise your chances.
Measuring Your Temperature With a Basal Thermometer
Another way to figure out the best time to conceive, you can also consider using what is known as a basal thermometer in order to track the temperature of your body throughout the course of the month. Write down your measurements or use a spreadsheet or an app to record them, so that you can see the trends. After a few months of recording the data, you will be able to see when your fertile days will be.
When you ovulate, your body temperature will go up slightly, right after a dip in temperature that happens just before ovulation. If you are measuring your temperature every day and you notice that dip, you will know the spike is coming. This will let you know that it is the best time to try to have sex so that you have a better chance of getting pregnant.
If you know when you are ovulating, you can then have intercourse three days before and three days after that day. This will ensure that when the egg is released, there will be sperm there waiting to meet it.
Checking Your Cervical Mucous
Another way that you can find out when you will ovulate is to pay attention to the changes in the cervical mucous, aka vaginal discharge. When the mucous is clear and stretchy, this is the best time to try to conceive. This is because the mucous will be creating an easier path for the sperm to reach the egg.
There are some home ovulation prediction kits that you can use to figure out when you are ovulating. You can find them at most pharmacies. Make sure that you read the instructions before you use the product, as each kit can be a little bit different. The kit will test your urine for luteinizing hormone, which is a substance that increases every month during the ovulation time.
Timing and Trying to Conceive
These are just a few important things that you should know about timing when it comes to trying to conceive. Keep these tips in mind, so that you can make sure that you have sex at the right times to increase your chances of having a baby. Of course, if you have sex throughout the month it won’t hurt your chances and it will bring you and your partner closer together. Remember to keep the romance in your relationship and make sure that sex is still about giving each other pleasure, rather than just about making a baby.
Also, don’t forget to relax. If you are worrying about getting pregnant and stressing out about the best time to have sex, you will be less likely to conceive because the stress will be affecting your body in a negative way. Relax, enjoy each other’s company and have fun!
- Your Fertility. Women’s guide to getting the timing right. http://yourfertility.org.au/for-women/timing-and-conception (Accessed April 2016) ↩
- Pregnancy & Baby. The right time: When sperm and egg meet. http://www.pregnancyandbaby.com/conception/articles/940973/the-right-time-when-sperm-and-egg-meet (Accessed April 2016) ↩