Pop Quiz Question: When’s the best time to have sex if you’re trying to get pregnant?
- The days right before you ovulate, as well as the day you ovulate?
- As soon as you can when you ovulate and again for the next few days afterwards?
- 24-hours after you ovulate as well as the following day?
- None of the above.
If you answered B), you’re in the majority, but you’re wrong. In fact, women who use ovulation day as the trigger for timing intercourse will have a more difficult to get pregnant because you run the risk of being too late.
The correct answer is A) Start having sex during the few days right before you ovulate, as well as the day you ovulate for the best chances of conception.
Timing Intercourse Correctly Improves Pregnancy Chances
Timing intercourse improves pregnancy rates because it increases the chances of one of those millions of sperm meeting the prized, single egg. But here’s the zinger – eggs and sperm have different life expectancies.
The egg lives anywhere from about 12- to 24-hours after it’s released from the mature follicle. If you’re even a little bit off on the “when” of when you ovulate, it will be much more difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg because the egg will already be absorbed back into the body.
On the flip side, healthy male sperm live anywhere from 24- to 72-hours, and some sperm have even been found to be diligently swimming away even five days after being ejaculated. So, what we’ve learned is that the more sperm available in the female reproductive tract before the egg emerges, the better chances the egg has of being fertilized.
Have Sexual Intercourse for the Days Leading Up to Ovulation
As a result of this insight, we now advise patients to have sexual intercourse during the few days leading up to when you ovulate, and then to go ahead and celebrate ovulation day as well. This will increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If you know your male partner has low sperm count, skip the daily sex and instead time intercourse for every-other-day so his body has time to store up more sperm during the interim. So, you might have sex four days before ovulating, two days before ovulation and then again on the day you ovulate.
In the meantime, we recommend you both do all you can to increase your fertility chances. We recommend reading, 5 Fertility Boosting Facts, and, Guys! 6 Tips to Improve Sperm Count, for more information on the things you can do to optimize timed intercourse at home.
Do You Know When You Ovulate?
If you read up on ovulation, you’ll learn that Days 13, 14 and 15 are when most women ovulate. The things is that “most women” means an “average.” Since every woman’s menstrual cycle is different, you can find yourself aiming for the wrong day.
Rather than learn about averages, we recommend getting to know your personal menstrual cycle and going from there. This will take being diligent about the start dates (first day of your period) for three to five cycles before you’ll have an idea of how many days your cycle lasts. This will help you to better anticipate when you’ll ovulate. Read, What is a Menstrual Cycle, Anyway…, to learn more about how to do this and to get familiar with what happens, when it happens – from the day you start your period to the day before the next period starts.
Side Note: If you regularly skip periods or have irregular periods, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN as soon as possible. There is no way you can learn about your ovulation cycle if you’re periods are irregular because ovulation prediction requires regularity. Also, those irregular periods are not normal and indicate there’s something going on, like endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, you could be underweight or over-exercising, etc., – all of which will affect your ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant.
One of the greatest gifts technology has given to women trying to get pregnant is the ability to track your cycle in detail via apps. Read, Must Have Apps for Women’s Health, to research some of our favorite apps – some of which are dedicated to menstrual cycles and others that are purely dedicated to tracking your fertile window.
Another way to learn more about when you ovulate is to use an ovulation predictor kit (OPK). These are available at your local drug store or online, and are very accurate. The caveats here are that quality matters and you must meticulously follow the instructions. If you’re serious about getting pregnant, invest in a more expensive, name brand kit because we’ve found you get what you pay for. Also, make sure to follow the instructions to the letter, and test your urine at the same time every single day for the most accurate prediction results.
Schedule an Appointment with Your OB/GYN When You’re Ready to Get Pregnant
If you’re ready to get pregnant, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN and let your doctor know. We’ll review your records and medical history, ask about your menstrual cycle or any pelvic complaints you might have and start the discussion about how to best prepare your body for conception and pregnancy. We’ll also discuss pre-pregnancy diet and exercise recommendations and give you a prescription for prenatal pills.
Contact Overlake to schedule your “we’re ready to get pregnant appointment,” and we’ll do our best to help you conceive as soon as possible.