Timing Intercourse for Optimal Chances of Conception

To optimize the chances of conception, fertility specialists suggest timing intercourse to coincide with the most fertile stage of the menstrual cycle.


Identifying the Fertile Window

Ovulation is the phase in a woman’s menstrual cycle where one of the ovaries releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube. The egg remains viable for a period of 12-24 hours after ovulation.

Timing intercourse based on a woman’s menstrual cycle optimizes the chances of becoming pregnant. Conception is most likely to occur in the five days leading up to ovulation and continuing a few hours past ovulation. This period is known as the fertile window.

Women with regular menstrual cycles can often easily determine their ovulation dates, but the process is more difficult if periods are irregular. Reproductive endocrinologists recommend the following methods for self-tracking ovulation:



If ovulation cannot be confirmed or further testing is indicated, fertility specialists sometimes recommend blood tests, transvaginal ultrasound or endometrial biopsy.


Timing Intercourse for Optimal Chances of Conception

Once a woman has identified her signs and symptoms of ovulation, sexual intercourse is timed for the most fertile days.The optimal chances of conception increase with the frequency of intercourse.

Some studies have indicated daily intercourse during the fertile window produces the highest conception rates. However, pregnancy success rates of couples engaging in sexevery one to two days have been found to be only slightly higher than those of couples who had sexual intercourse two to three times a week.The real benefit comes from timing intercourse with the 5-day window prior to ovulation.

There is no evidence that specific sexual positions or timed bed rest after intercourse improves the chances for conception. However, long periods of sexual abstinence have been found to negatively impact sperm quality, and some lubricants – including KY jelly, Astroglide and olive oil – can impede conception by decreasing sperm motility.

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