You can get pregnant at any one point of the month, but there’s a most effective time to have sex to increase your chances, and this is referred to as your fertile window.

Your fertile window is the five days leading up to, and the day of, ovulation. You’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within these few days, and particularly within a day or two of ovulation.

An egg lives for about one day after being released, and sperm can survive for up to a week so, technically, there’s a six-day window for sperm to meet an egg. It can be tricky to know the exact date of ovulation, so it’s advisable to just enjoy having sex every few days. This will mean that there should always be sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes to meet an egg when it’s released.

If you do want to pinpoint your day of ovulation and increase your chances of getting pregnant, then there are a few things you can look out for…

How do I know when I’m going to ovulate?

If you have a 28-day menstrual cycle, then you’re likely to ovulate around the middle of your cycle. But if you have a short cycle, you could ovulate within days of your period ending. And a long cycle may mean that you won’t ovulate until two weeks after your period has ended. Toni Belfield, a specialist in sexual health information, says: “It’s not accurate to say that women are fertile on day 14 of the menstrual cycle,” – read more on the NHS.

The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of a woman’s period – day one. Some time after the period she’ll ovulate, then 10-16 days after this she’ll have her next period.

According to Baby Centre, nearly half of women have a cycle length that varies by more than seven days. If your menstrual cycle is different from one month to the next, then it’s likely that your fertile window may vary each month, too.

Here are a few other things to look out for to know when you’re ovulating:

  • Increased vaginal discharge that’s egg white in colour and stretchy – this is also known as fertile mucus.
  • Slight discomfort on one side of your stomach – ovulation pain, also known as

mittelschmerz.  

Ovulation calculators and temperature charts

Some people may look at ovulation calculators or temperature charts to try to monitor when they’re ovulating.

Basal body temperature is your temperature when you first wake up in the morning. To record your BBT, you need to use a basal thermometer. To know when you’re ovulating, look for a temperature rise compared with the previous six days of about 0.2 degrees Celsius.

Ovulation calculators work out (roughly) the date you’re at your most fertile and the day you ovulate, based on your last three periods.

Frequent sex boosts pregnancy chances

Although having sex around the date of ovulation might help to increase your chances of pregnancy, the best, and more realistically achievable thing to do is to have sex every two or three days throughout the month.

Trying to have sex around ovulation can get stressful, and stressed may mean you have less sex.

If you’re going to track your ovulation, remember to try and relax and still enjoy having sex with your partner.

Head over to our Myth-buster Quiz and test your knowledge of things you should or shouldn't be doing when pregnant.

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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