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Getting Pregnant: When Should You Have Sex?

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When you are trying to conceive, there are certain times in your menstrual cycle when you are more fertile than others. Fertile days occur around the time of ovulation, when your ovaries release a mature egg for fertilization. If you are trying to get pregnant, it is important to plan sex during your most fertile days.

Fertile Days in Menstrual Cycles

Fertile days vary from woman-to-woman, depending on the length and regularity of her menstrual cycles. Women are most fertile during ovulation, when a woman releases an egg to be fertilized. For women with 28-day menstrual cycles, ovulation usually occurs between days 13 to 15.

Once an egg is released, it can be fertilized for only 12 to 24 hours before it dissolves. Sperm, on the other hand, can stay alive in the body for 3 to 5 days, making a woman fertile for about 5 to 7 days.

Best Time to Have Sex to Conceive

Because sperm lasts several days in the human body, and a woman’s egg only last a maximum of 24 hours, the best time to have sex to get pregnant is a few days before ovulation should occur. Couples should begin having sex five days before a woman will ovulate and one day after ovulation. Couples should try to have sex at least every other day.

How to Detect Fertile Days to Get Pregnant

A helpful way to achieve pregnancy is to schedule sexual intercourse slightly before and during ovulation. In order to make the most out of each session of sexual intercourse, it is important to understand signs of ovulation so you know when you are ovulating. This will help you plan sex accordingly to help you get pregnant.

  • Changes in Cervical Mucus. Cervical mucus can be an important indication of ovulation. Before ovulation, cervical mucus is dry and sticky. As ovulation comes closer, it may take on a creamier consistency. Right before ovulation, cervical mucus tends to take on the consistency of a raw egg white and may become more slippery. Charting your cervical mucus can be helpful because it allows you to spot patterns from one menstrual cycle to the next.
  • Charting Basal Body Temperature (BBT). Charting BBT . Charting your BBT can help you detect patterns of ovulation. You can buy a special BBT thermometer, which detects temperature to the tenth degree. Take your temperature the first thing each morning. You can detect ovulation by an increased temperature of 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which will usually be the highest temperature over the last six days.
  • Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK). Ovulation predictor kits are at-home tests that allow a woman to predict when she will ovulate. The test works by measuring the luteinizing hormone. When the LH rises sharply, ovulation should occur in the next 12 to 48 hours.
  • Physical Signs of Ovulation. Physical signs of ovulation may vary for each woman, but may include light spotting, abdominal cramping, breast tenderness, and bloating.

If you are not sure if you're ovulating, and/or if timed sex isn't resulting in pregnancy, a consultation with a fertility doctor is a good next step.