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When Trying to Get Pregnant, Are Millions of Women Doing It All Wrong?

When Trying to Get Pregnant, Are Millions of Women Doing It All Wrong?

True or False? Trying to conceive in the two days after ovulation increases a woman's chances of success.

If you answered true, you’re in good company — nearly 60 percent of women surveyed thought so too — but it’s actually FALSE.

In a 2014 study, a group of researchers from Yale University surveyed 1,000 reproductive-aged women to evaluate common attitudes and understandings about trying to conceive. What they found was startling.

A lot of women have no idea when they are most fertile.

There’s a lot of science that goes into knowing when the best time to try is. Luckily, all you really have to do to find out when you’re fertile is use this one super handy equation:

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Yep, that’s the real equation researchers came up with to determine the days of your menstrual cycle that are most fertile. So what does that mean for you?


In general, you are most fertile for a 6-day window that starts 4 days prior to ovulation and ends 1 day after ovulation — within that window, your chances only change by about 3% percent, so there's no need to "perfectly time" intercourse to conceive. 


For real, when you account for all the factors that go into getting pregnant, your chances during the 6 day window fluctuate from about 11%-14% on any given day. Outside of the fertile window, your chances of conceiving are generally less than 5%.

Why is this? Well, while the egg is available for fertilization for a very short period of time, sperm can actually survive in the female reproductive tract for days. When you have sex earlier in your cycle, sperm are ready for fertilization right when the egg is released and chances of conception go up.

If you’re in the habit of waiting until you get a “positive” on your ovulation predictor kit (OPK) or until you see a rise in your basal body temperature (BBT) before you start trying, chances are you’re missing the boat.

How to maximize your chances

  1. Don't stress being perfect. Like we said above, your chances of conception only change by about 3% within the fertile window, so don't stress trying to time intercourse to the exact moment you ovulate. Statistically, your best chances are actually 2 or 3 days before ovulation. 
  2. Identify your fertile window. Most women with a regular cycle will ovulate about 14 days before their period starts, so time intercourse accordingly. If your cycle is irregular, things will be more difficult. You won’t be perfect every cycle and that's ok. Remember, it’s always better to try on the early side.
  3. Try multiple times. During your six day window, try to have sex every other day, but not more than once per day.  
  4. Make improvements that actually matter. While the timing of intercourse won't dramatically change chances of conception, there are a number of things you can do that will. The Conceivable Program gives you the tools and knowledge to dramatically change your fertility.