When Is the Best Time to Have Sex to Get Pregnant?

Your Most Fertile Cycle Days

Couple in bed being affectionate, they know the best time to get pregnant is before ovulation
Feeling sexy and in the mood? This can be a sign that you're ovulating. So get busy!. Brand New Images / Iconica / Getty Images

The best time to get pregnant is the two to three days right before ovulation. Yes, you must have sex before you ovulate -- not after! While these three days are your most fertile, you're also able to get pregnant if you have sex up to five days before you ovulate. 

So, basically, you've got one week every month when sex can lead to pregnancy. Your high school sex ed teacher lied to you. Sex doesn't lead to pregnancy every time!


But how will you know when this fertile week is? How can you know if you're going to ovulate? And when and how often should you have sex if you want to get pregnant?

Is Day 14 Your Most Fertile Day?

You may have heard that Day 14 of your cycle is when you ovulate.

Many women who believe this have sex on Day 11, 12, and 13, thinking this will give them the best chance at conception. But they may be wrong!  Many women don't ovulate on Day 14 of their cycle.

Normal ovulation can occur as early as Day 10 and as late as Day 20. If your cycles are irregular, ovulation can occur even later. 

How Can You Know the Best Time to Get Pregnant?

Thankfully, your ovulation day doesn't need to remain a mystery. There are many methods of ovulation detection available.

Three popular options are:

    There are advantages and disadvantages to these methods... and they aren't your only choices!

    Using Cervical Mucus to Time Sex for Pregnancy

    Research says that the best day for sexual intercourse is the day you notice the most fertile cervical mucus.

    As mentioned above, fertile cervical mucus is a vaginal discharge that resembles raw egg white. It typically appears on the days prior before ovulation.

    Once you know what to look for, it's easy to detect.

    A research study done at the University of North Carolina looked at which was a better predictor of conception success: sex based on basal body temperature charting results or changes in cervical mucus.

    What they discovered was that, regardless of what day ovulation actually occurred, pregnancy was more likely to happen if the couple had sex on a day when fertile cervical mucus was present.

    This may be because cervical mucus helps the sperm survive and swim along.

    The more sperm that survive and make it to their destination, the more sperm that will be waiting in your fallopian tubes waiting for the ovulated egg!

    With all this said, you may not want to aim only for your most fertile days. 

    Why You Should Have Sex All Month Long

    Many couples fall into a trying-to-conceive sex rut. They make timing sex for pregnancy so important that they neglect to have sex at other times. Sex begins to feel more like a chore. It feels more like an item on your to-do list and less about love and connection.

    This can put tremendous stress on a relationship. Plus, having sex all month long can actually boost your fertility. Research studies have shown that after 10 days of abstinence, sperm quality and quantity is greatly diminished. Sperm quality and quantity peaks after one or two days of abstinence and then decreases.

    If you only have sex when you're showing signs of ovulation, you may not have had sexual intercourse for days and days. 

    You may be at your most fertile time, but he won't be at his peak fertility.

    Research also shows that having sex after ovulation can be beneficial. One study found that couples who went through IVF treatment -- and were successful -- were more likely to still be pregnant at 6 to 8 weeks if they had sex after the embryo transfer

    Another practical reason to have sex all month long -- you're less likely to miss your fertile days! If you're waiting and waiting for ovulation signs, you could miss them. Or they could occur when sex just isn't possible. Research does say that sex during the six days prior to ovulation can lead to pregnancy.

    If you plan on having sex two to three times a week, regardless of fertility signs, you're likely to have sex at least once during this six-day time period.

    This is less stressful than trying to time sex for a particular few days.

    More on how to get pregnant:


    Joseph B. Stanford and David B. Dunson. "Effects of Sexual Intercourse Patterns in Time to Pregnancy Studies." American Journal of Epidemiology. February 8, 2007. 165:1088-1095, 2007.

    Agarwal A, Gupta S, Du Plessis S, et al.  "Abstinence Time and Its Impact on Basic and Advanced Semen Parameters" Urology. 2016 Aug;94:102-10.

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