They say that—in life—timing is everything. However, if you’re trying to conceive, there’s no getting around the fact that certain elements need to be in place before you can get pregnant. It comes down to science (plus a little bit of luck).
Although you were warned when you were a teenager that getting pregnant “only takes one time.” In reality, if both partners are fertile, the woman can only get pregnant a few days out of each month. So when you’re ready to get pregnant, the first thing for the woman to do is track her menstrual cycle and figure out which are her most fertile days.
When is it the best time to conceive?
The window of time when a woman is most fertile is during ovulation, which begins when an egg is released from an ovary. But the release of the egg is really the end of the fertility window, which begins five days before ovulation. So those five days are really a woman’s most fertile period during the month and the best time to have sex. About 12-24 hours after ovulation has occurred, that fertility window slams shut and doesn’t open for another three weeks.
How do you know when you’re ovulating?
To figure out when you’re ovulating, you need to begin by tracking your menstrual cycle for a few months. Here are a few signs you can use to get a better understanding of a woman’s cycle:
- Length of menstrual cycle: For a “normal” 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation usually starts about 14 days after the first day of your last period
- Cervical mucus: Some women may notice wetter, clearer and more slippery mucus around the time of ovulation
- Body temperature: Using a thermometer, you might be able to detect a slight increase in body temperature at the start of ovulation
- Hormones in urine: You can also use an ovulation predictor kit to measure the level of hormones in your urine, which increases around the time of ovulation.
The best time to get pregnant is by having sex on the day of ovulation—or two days before that— which increases your chances by a whopping 30 percent. Out of every 100 couples, 20 will conceive within a month, 70 within 6 months, 85 within a year, 95 within 18 months and 95 out of 100 will have conceived within two years.
Do men have more fertile days each month?
In a nutshell, no—and despite natural fluctuations in sperm count, there’s no better time of the day, either. But there are external factors that could affect male fertility, including:
In fact, male infertility issues is the cause of about one-third of all couples struggling with getting pregnant. There are a number of tests available used to assess a man’s fertility, including semen analysis, blood tests, making a culture of fluid from the penis, and/or a physical examination of the penis, scrotum, and prostate. These tests are looking for volume of semen produced, sperm count, morphology (the size and shape of sperm), and motility (the movement and number of active cells in the sperm).
If you are trying to get the timing right for pregnancy and want to rule out any latent fertility issues, pick up SpermCheck, an over-the-counter kit that lets you accurately test your sperm count quickly and easily at home.
Feeling overwhelmed by all this sperm testing and staring at your calendar? Maybe the best advice of all for getting ready to start (or add to) a family is to just have sex every two or three days. That way you are sure to cover all bases without getting too technical about when the chance of conceiving is greatest. It could be fun, too.