Ovulation & Fertile Window
How Many Days After Ovulation Can You Get Pregnant?
When trying to conceive, timing is one of the most important things to consider. Once a month, your body goes through a reproductive process that allows for conception. This process is called ovulation - and women have just a handful of days around ovulation to get pregnant.
Below, you will learn more about ovulation and how you can increase your chances of conceiving by understanding the timing of ovulation.
How does ovulation work?
Ovulation happens when one of your ovaries releases a mature egg into the fallopian tube, where the egg will wait to be fertilized by sperm. Two hormones facilitate ovulation: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In addition, your estrogen levels peak in the days leading up to ovulation.
Ovulation usually happens once every cycle and is stimulated by a surge in luteinizing hormone. Follicle-stimulating hormone is responsible for the growth and development of the egg follicles located in the ovaries. Ovulation typically takes place in the middle of your cycle (typically 14 days before the start of your next cycle, if you have a 28-day cycle) and lasts about 12 to 24 hours.
How can you predict ovulation?
There are various ways to predict when ovulation might occur. Each family planning method can be helpful separately, but when using more than one method together, you can increase your chances of getting more accurate results, which, in turn, can help you get pregnant by timing your intercourse properly. Here are a few methods you can use:
Body temperature changes
Measuring your basal body temperature (BBT) is one way to predict ovulation. Your BBT is the temperature at which your body is at rest. Your body’s temperature increases slightly during ovulation.
To measure your BBT, you need to record your temperature daily throughout your menstrual cycles. It may take a few cycles to learn your pattern and get accurate results because other factors can raise your body temperature. Your temperature typically rises by about 0.4 to one degree higher than your average temperature, usually between 96 and 98 degrees.
Tip: Use a basal body thermometer (not a regular thermometer) to get a precise enough reading to catch the changes. Alternatively, you can use Tempdrop, a fertility monitoring tool, to monitor and track your fertile window easily.
Changes in cervical mucus
Cervical mucus is the thick fluid produced by the cervix. You can use your cervical mucus as a clue to predict your ovulation day. Throughout your cycle, your mucus changes in color, texture, and volume.
After your period ends, your mucus is generally thick, white, and tacky. It becomes clearer, slippery, and wet a few days before ovulation (think of the composition of an egg white). When your mucus is clear and slippery, it allows the sperm to move freely in your reproductive tract.
After ovulation, your mucus again becomes drier, thicker, and cloudy. This consistency means the fertile window has likely closed.
Ways to check your cervical mucus:
- Use toilet paper to wipe and examine your mucus
- Use your fingers
- Check your underwear
- Use kegg, the next-generation fertility monitor that measures and records your mucus in only 2 minutes daily. kegg is an intuitive way to check your mucus and accurately predict when your fertile window is.
Chart your cycle
Get your calendar out! Whether using an ovulation predictor kit, an ovulation calculator app, or a traditional calendar, you can use this method to chart your cycle and predict your day of ovulation.
After the first day of your period (i.e. the first day of your full flow), you can count how many days until you estimate you’ll start your period again (about 28 on average).
The number of days between the first day of your last cycle and the first day of your next cycle is your cycle length. Remember, ovulation may occur about 12 to 14 days before the start of your next period, not the 14th day of your current cycle, if you have a 28-day cycle.
Charting your cycle can also help provide you and your OBGYN with useful information if you have irregular periods. It’s always good to know your flow schedule.
Note: If you have irregular periods, this method may not be as reliable. Try using a basal body thermometer or use the cervical mucus method to learn your cycle pattern and predict when you ovulate.
Fertility trackers are a great way to predict your ovulation day. Here is a list of a few fertility trackers Ovaterra’s scientific team recommend:
- kegg Fertility Tracker and Kegel Ball
- Proov Predict & Confirm Kit
- Oova Ovulation Tracking Kit
- Tempdrop Fertility Monitor
Fertility trackers can help you get more accurate results compared to just guessing or using only a calendar. The four trackers above all leverage smartphone apps to take the guesswork out of interpretation, too. Head over to our ovulation tracker selection guide, if you are looking for a high-quality fertility tracker.
How soon after ovulation should you have sex?
As soon as you get a positive result indicating that you are ovulating, you should have sex. Your egg can only survive up to 24 hours after its release, so you want to have sexual intercourse ASAP for fertilization and implantation.
Tip: Having sex in the five days preceding ovulation (and on ovulation day) offers you more time to relax and not stress about missing your window of opportunity. That’s why ovulation predictors are a crucial tool on your fertility journey.
What is a fertile window?
The fertile window is the period when you are fertile and conception can occur. The fertile window can last for up to seven days during your menstrual cycle. Having sexual intercourse on a fertile day can greatly increase your chance of conceiving.
Your fertile window starts about five days before ovulation, continues the day of ovulation, and lasts approximately 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. This is a total of six to seven days. An egg can survive in the fallopian tube for up to 24 hours, but sperm can last much longer, extending your fertile window beyond the day of ovulation.
Sperm can survive in the women's reproductive tract for up to five days. You can choose to have sexual intercourse within the five-day window before ovulation to allow the sperm to wait for the egg to release from the ovary. If the sperm fertilizes the egg, the egg (now an embryo) attaches to the uterine lining (called implantation) and starts to develop into an early pregnancy.
How to calculate your fertile window
If you have a regular, 28-day menstrual cycle, you can expect to ovulate 12 to 14 days before the first day of your next period. So, if you use a calendar to pinpoint those days, you can count five days before and one day after to estimate your fertile window.
If you have irregular menstrual cycles, you may need to use ovulation tracking tools to help you better estimate your day of ovulation and fertile window. Keep reading to learn more about what you can do to predict your ovulation schedule.
Who should test their fertile window?
Are you wondering if testing is right for you? Testing for your fertile window doesn’t cause harm, so anyone could use this family planning method to conceive.
However, a few signs may indicate you should start using fertility trackers to become pregnant.
- You don’t know when your fertile window is
- You want to speed up the conception process
- You have been trying to become pregnant for a few months without success
- You have irregular periods
- You are of advanced maternal age (35 and above) and want to get pregnant quickly
How many days after ovulation can you get pregnant?
Because an egg can only survive 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, you can conceive up to just one full day after you have ovulated.
There are ways to predict when you will ovulate better, thus allowing you more time to conceive during your menstrual cycle.
Let’s dig deeper into ovulation prediction methods.
What if my periods are irregular?
If your periods are irregular, pinpointing your fertile window may be more challenging. Using fertility monitors and ovulation tests can help you better predict when you are approaching or are ovulating.
It likely takes you a few menstrual cycles to understand how your ovulation works. If you are having difficulty because of irregular periods, speak with your healthcare provider about what you can do to increase your chances of pregnancy.
When should I talk to a doctor about getting pregnant?
If you are considering starting a family, you should consult your OBGYN. Your healthcare provider can help you better prepare for pregnancy.
It is important to know some information before speaking with your doctor, like knowing the first day of your most recent menstrual cycle. If you can provide more information to your doctor, it may help them understand why you have not yet conceived.
The bottom line
Ovulation is a vital step in the reproductive process. By using ovulation tracking to detect when you can become pregnant, you can increase your chances of conceiving sooner.
After your body releases an egg from your ovary, you have about 12 to 24 hours of viability for conception; i.e. there’s only less than a day for that egg to join with a sperm. However, you have 4-5 days leading up to ovulation when you can conceive. Therefore, healthcare providers usually recommend having sex more than once during your fertile window rather than waiting until ovulation happens.
Talk to your doctor if you are ready to start or grow your family - and please reach out if we can answer any questions about detecting your fertile window and getting pregnant. We are with you.
Ovaterra provides reproductive health resources for general, educational purposes only. This content is not intended to replace medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional. Similarly, when making your financial decisions, please consult qualified financial professionals who can make individual recommendations.
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