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Getting pregnant

ovulation; calculator; fertility; sex; period; cycle; egg; sperm; survival; conception; conceive; ;


Fertile 'window'

An egg survives no more than 24 hours after ovulation - unless, of course, it is fertilised by a sperm. However, sperm can survive for longer within the genital tract (your vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes).

This means that you don't have to time sex at the exact moment of ovulation to get pregnant. It is probably more realistic to think of a "fertile window" of about five to 6 days when live, healthy sperm could meet a freshly ovulated egg - about five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation.

Signs of ovulation

You will usually ovulate around 12 to 16 days before your next period starts (on average 14 days). This means that if your menstrual cycle is regular and about 28 days long, you may ovulate about 12 to 16 days after the beginning of your last period. 

  • Some women can tell when they are ovulating because their cervical mucus becomes more plentiful and slippery.
  • Some women also experience a sharp pain low down on one side of their abdomen.
  • Many women find that their libido (desire for sex) increases around the time they ovulate.

There are other signs of ovulation that you may be able to notice. There is information about these on the Pregnancy, birth and baby website 

When to have sex

If you have unprotected sex every two to three days then healthy sperm with good motility will be in the right place whenever you ovulate. Regular sex throughout your cycle is the approach that fertility experts recommend for increasing your chances of getting pregnant.

Having sex when your cervical mucus is wet, slippery and therefore most receptive to sperm will increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Ovulation calculator

To increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant it may be useful to work out when you are most likely to become pregnant based on your cycle.

Most women ovulate (their ovaries release an egg) about 12 to 16 days (on average about 14 days) before their next period.

If your periods are regular – for example your period regularly starts about 28 days or maybe 32 days after the beginning of your last period it may be possible to use an ovulation calculator to work out fairly accurately when you are likely to ovulate, although not all experts think that this is reliable. This ovulation calculator from the Baby Center website may be useful. http://www.babycenter.com.au/tools/ovu/

If there is not a clear pattern to your periods – one may start 28 days after the previous period one month, and 35 days after the next one, you will not be able to use this calculator.

Likelihood of getting pregnant

The odds of a young fertile couple conceiving by having sexual intercourse around the time of ovulation are approximately one in five every month. Around nine out of 10 couples achieve a pregnancy after one year of unprotected sex.

If you do not become pregnant, there is a topic 'Problems in becoming pregnant' that has more information.

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.


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