Women spend so much of their lives trying to not get pregnant. When the time comes to create baby, it can be confusing to know when to time intercourse in order to increases chances of conception. More and more women are delaying pregnancy until they are over 35 and in many cases over 40. Statistics Canada has observed that more woman are getting pregnant between 35-39 than those aged 20-24. We want to maximize our chances of conception and avoid trips to a fertility clinic, particularly because fertility rates decline with age. Here are some tips to help you plan the most optimal days for sexual activity so that you have greater chances of conception:
Key things you’ll want to know:
- It is best to have sex BEFORE ovulation for maximal chances of pregnancy. You want the sperm to be waiting in the fallopian tube to meet the egg and fertilize it.
- An egg can live for 12-24 hours after it is released from the ovary. Yes, this is a small window! That’s why sperm need to be armed and ready, waiting for the egg’s release. Sex 1-2 days before ovulation confers the best chances of getting pregnant, although sperm are able to live inside a woman up to 5-7 days.
- Women typically ovulate around mid-cycle. In a 28 day cycle, this is likely on or around day 14. It is possible to ovulate earlier or later, so this is not a perfect way to estimate ovulation. Most women ovulate somewhere between day 8-21. Yes, that’s a large window.
- Fertilization of the egg, if it happens, occurs in one of the two fallopian tubes. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for the egg to be fertilized.
- Once the egg is fertilized it is called an embryo, which then continues to rapidly divide. If it makes it to the blastocyst stage, it is then ready to make its way to the uterus for implantation. This occurs about 5-6 days after fertilization
- If you want to get pregnant, the key is to know approximately when you ovulate so that you can plan intercourse before the ovulation occurs.
- You can estimate when you ovulate using methods such as temperature charting, monitoring cervical mucus, the position of your cervix and/or by using ovulation predictor kits; read on to learn more about these methods.
- Bottom Line: the most optimal time for intercourse is the two days before and the day of ovulation
- Using this method, you must take your temperature (aka basal body temperature) first thing when you wake in the morning. This should ideally at the same time each day. Chart your temperature on a graph (you can print off one by clicking here) or in a fertility app such as Kindara. When you see a sustained elevation in temperature, this suggests ovulation likely happened 2-3 days prior. You can use this day to predict when to time intercourse in the following month (it’s too late for the current month). For example, if you notice the temperature change is around day 15; then it would be ideal to have sex the following cycle on the days leading up to and on this day (day 13, 14, and, 15).
- This method is inexpensive, all you need to buy is your thermometer. The down side? It can be a challenge to get into this routine and it’s a less reliable if you’re taking your temperature at different times in the morning or if you get up and are moving about your morning before you remember to take your temperature. And, remember, it’s not helpful for the present cycle but helping you predict optimal sexual active during your NEXT cycle.
- Getting to know your mucus changes throughout the month can be helpful to estimate ovulation. Usually once you see mucus that is sticky, and like a raw egg white in consistency (whether it’s on your underwear, upon wiping, or by inserting a finger to feel around the cervix), this is a good indicator that ovulation is coming soon! When you see this change, it’s ideal to have sexual activity on that day. It’s go time!
- If you are comfortable with your body and are able to get into the habit of inserting a finger into your vagina to feel the cervix, you can learn changes that point to ovulation. When the body is fertile, the cervix will be in a higher position and it will feel soft; similar to the texture of your lips. When you’re not fertile, the cervix sits lower and feels hard-more like the tip of your nose. During fertile day(s) you may notice the cervix is also more open.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
- You can purchase an ovulation predictor kit from a drugstore, or online. You will want to start testing your urine daily, approximately around mid-cycle. This test uses a urine sample to detect for the presence or absence of luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is released 12-36 hours prior to ovulation; so when you get a positive result on your urine strip, this indicates it’s an optimal time to have sexual activity. It is important to NOT use first morning urine for this test and to consider reducing liquid intake in the couple of hours prior to the test. It’s ideal to take the test at the same time each day. Afternoon is often recommended, best 2-3pm. The downfalls of this test is cost, convenience, and the fact that just because you have a positive LH does not guarantee ovulation will occur. Be sure to read the instructions of your ovulation predictor kit thoroughly so that you complete the test correctly.
If you’ve been tracking ovulation and are not conceiving within 6-12 months, it’s a good idea to talk to a health professional. As an ND, I regularly work with women who are trying to conceive. We can investigate things further with laboratory testing, a physical exam, and a thorough health history. And, even if you haven’t been trying that long but are anxious to know how to optimize your fertility, I can help! Naturopathic medicine has many, evidenced based treatments that can benefit fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage.
Book an appointment with me today and we can get started! Click here to book now!
Photo Credit: Heather Mount on Unsplash