Sexual Intimacy

Having intercourse on the days before ovulation may increase pregnancy rates.

Couples who are trying to conceive often wonder if there is an optimal time to have sex in order to maximize their chances of getting pregnant. Many are surprised to learn that waiting until the woman ovulates, may not be the best way to increase their chances of a pregnancy. Rather, being intimate on the days leading up to ovulation can actually increase the chance of conception.

There is only a small window of time each month when a woman can get pregnant. According to the American society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the “fertile window” is the six days leading up to, and ending during ovulation. Every month an egg is released from one of the ovaries in a woman’s body (ovulation). If there are no blockages in her fallopian tubes, that egg travels down into the woman’s uterus, where it will implant if it has been fertilized with a man’s sperm. Once the egg is released from the ovary, if it is not fertilized it will only survive for about 24 hours. In contrast, men produce millions of sperm on a daily basis, and during intercourse and ejaculation, millions of sperm are released into the woman’s body. Unlike eggs, sperm can stay alive in a woman’s body for up to 3 to 5 days! This means that by having intercourse during the five days leading up to ovulation, you can increase your chances of getting pregnant. In contrast, waiting until ovulation day to have intercourse leaves a much smaller “fertile window” of opportunity. The ASRM suggests couples have intercourse every one to two days during the week prior to ovulation.

View ASRM’s infographic depicting the fertile window here.

To read more about how to determine when you are ovulating, click here.


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