When to try to get pregnant
Trying to conceive? No one needs to tell you how to do it (leave the diagrams to the amateurs, thank you very much!), but you might need a little help figuring out when is the best time to have sex to get pregnant.
The short answer: The best time to conceive is around the time you ovulate. That prime "getting pregnant" window can include anywhere from a few days before ovulation — because sperm can live to fertilize for three to six days — until about a day after the release of the egg, which is only viable for about 12 to 24 hours.
How we calculate your fertile window
This ovulation calendar estimates when you will ovulate based on the date of your last menstrual cycle and the average number of days between your periods. First, we count back 14 days from the start date of your next expected period to calculate the date you're most likely to ovulate. Then, we calculate your fertile window, which can extend a few days before ovulation and possibly up to one day after. Just note that this is not an exact science — menstrual cycles can vary from woman to woman and month to month (typical cycle length is anywhere between 21 and 35 days). And, if you have irregular periods, that might make it tougher to pinpoint your fertile window.
Wondering how to tell when you're ovulating? Pay attention to these signs of ovulation:
- Your basal body temperature falls slightly, then rises again when ovulation has taken place.
- Your cervical mucus becomes clearer and thinner with a more slippery consistency similar to that of egg whites.
- Your cervix softens and opens up.
- You may feel a slight twinge of pain or mild cramps in your lower abdomen.
- Your sex drive may increase.
- You may notice some light spotting.
- Your vulva or vagina may appear swollen.
Tips for getting pregnant
Want to up your odds of getting pregnant faster? Here are some tips to try:
1. Take your prenatal vitamin
Start popping that prenatal at least a month before you begin trying for a baby. One study showed that women who were taking their prenatal vitamins while undergoing fertility treatments were twice as likely to get pregnant as those who were only taking a folic acid supplement while going through the same treatments. So while it's not a guarantee that you'll hit the baby jackpot sooner, it's definitely worth a shot!
2. Know the signs of ovulation and time sex around it
Familiarize yourself with the typical ovulation symptoms to look out for and have sex starting a few days before you ovulate, which typically happens midway through your cycle (so on day 14 of a 28-day cycle). Having sex the actual day of ovulation would be ideal, but it can be hard to pinpoint it.
3. Eat well
Eating the right foods and nutrients when you're trying to conceive can help your dreams of getting pregnant come true more quickly. Make sure you're incorporating plenty of healthy fats like omega-3s, folate, calcium, protein, iron and fiber into your daily diet.
Moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day has been shown to boost fertility, so now isn't the time to turn into a couch potato. Whether it's hitting the gym, going for a jog or lifting weights, try to fit in some kind of workout while you're trying to conceive.
5. Don't worry
Stress can delay ovulation, which in turn will get in the way of conception, and it has also been shown to increase the frequency of uterine contractions, so implantation will be more difficult. Try to find ways to relax: take a yoga class, soak in a bubble bath, go on a rejuvenating walk, write in a journal or get a massage.
6. Get enough sleep
Aim to log in seven to eight solid hours of sleep when you're trying to conceive. Research has shown that spotty sleep has been linked to irregular periods, which can in turn hinder your fertility. Sleep is also important in staving off stress, which has also been found to hamper baby-making plans.
7. Cut out bad habits
If you smoke, it's time to quit, as smoking has been shown to have a negative impact on fertility and getting pregnant. It's also a good idea to stop drinking alcohol (or at least seriously limit your intake) while you're trying to conceive and cut back your caffeine consumption to no more than 200 milligrams a day (about a 12-ounce cup of coffee).