Your Odds of Getting Pregnant If You Have Sex After Ovulation

Your Conception Odds After Ovulation + Sex and Embryo Health

Couple under blanket considering whether to have sex after ovulation
Go ahead and have sex even if you think you've ovulated. You still might catch the egg, and sexual intercourse may be good for the developing embryo. PeopleImages.com / Getty Images

Your chance of getting pregnant after ovulation is small. One day past ovulation, your odds are between zero and 11%.

But don’t let that stop you from having sex!

You may be mistaken about your exact day of ovulation. Plus, sex after fertilization may boost your odds of pregnancy.

Your Odds of Conceiving Before and After Ovulation

Ideally, if you want to get pregnant, you need to have sex before you ovulate.

If you were confused about this before – and thought sex needs to come after ovulation – you’re not alone.

Many women don’t realize that the best time to have sex to get pregnant is before and not after ovulation.

However, let’s say you think you’ve already ovulated… is there any point in having sex, just in case? Yes.

There have been several research studies on the odds of conception at various stages of the menstrual cycle.

Everyone agrees that your best odds of conception are the day before and the day of ovulation. But not everyone agrees how likely you are to conceive once ovulation has passed.

The following statistics are a range based on a number of studies.

Your odds of getting pregnant may be anywhere from...

  • 21 to 35% one day before ovulation
  • 10 to 33% on ovulation day
  • 0 to 11% one day past ovulation
  • 0 to 9% two days past ovulation

Of course, this is assuming you have sex just once during your fertile window.

If you have sex before you ovulate and the day after, your odds will be significantly different (better!) than if you have sex only after you ovulated.

Ovulation Day Errors: You May Be Wrong About When You Ovulated

Most methods of ovulation prediction aren’t extremely accurate.

There is a margin of error.

So, even though you think you already ovulated, you may be wrong.

There are many ways to detect your most fertile time.

Here are some of the most popular ones:

(Read more about ovulation signs here.)

Body basal temperature charting is often considered to be the most accurate, but it’s not error-free.

According to one study, body basal temperature charting predicted the day of ovulation correctly only 43% of the time.

If you were trying to pinpoint ovulation day by measuring urinary levels of the hormone LH (like you do with an ovulation predictor test), you’d only determine the exact day 60% of the time.

Even if you think you’ve already ovulated, go ahead and have sex.

The worst that’ll happen is you’ll have sex that you didn’t have to have.

It’s a “risk” worth taking!

Embryo Implantation: A Different Reason to Have Sex After Ovulation

There’s another reason to have sex even if you’ve already ovulation: it may improve your odds of embryo implantation.

Having a fertilized egg doesn’t guarantee you a pregnancy. Nowhere is this more apparent than with IVF treatment.

During IVF, eggs and sperm are put together in the lab. If all goes well, a few healthy embryos will result.

However, transferring these embryos into the uterus doesn’t guarantee a viable pregnancy.

A small but interesting study looked at the effect sexual intercourse has on pregnancy success and IVF.

In this study, one group of couples had sexual intercourse around the time of embryo transfer. The other group abstained from sex.

The initial pregnancy rates between the groups were not that different. However, the number of women who were still pregnant at 6 to 8 weeks was significant.

Of the group that had sex around the time of embryo transfer, 11.01 percent were still pregnant at 6 to 8 weeks.

As for the couples who did not have sex around embryo transfer, only 7.69 percent were still pregnant at 6 to 8 weeks.

Why? The theory is that semen may play a role in embryo health and development.

Here’s the bottom line: whether you think you’ve already ovulated or not, have sex. It may help!

More on ovulation and timing sex for pregnancy:

Sources:

Colombo B, Masarotto G. “Daily fecundability: first results from a new data base.” Demogr Res. 2000 Sep 6;3:[39] p.. http://demographic-research.org/volumes/vol3/5/3-5.pdf

Tremellen KP, Valbuena D, Landeras J, Ballesteros A, Martinez J, Mendoza S, Norman RJ, Robertson SA, Simón C. "The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction." Hum Reprod. 2000 Dec;15(12):2653-8.

Wilcox AJ1, Weinberg CR, Baird DD. “Timing of Sexual Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation — Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby.” N Engl J Med. 1995 Dec 7;333(23):1517-21. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199512073332301

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