When am I likely to conceive? What days should I have sex?
In the WebMD Trying to Conceive Community, Yvette Smith, MD, MPH, says she is asked these questions almost every day in her office. And women are clearly asking them online too.
Her quick answer to both questions is: the days right before and including the day you ovulate. Most women ovulate two weeks before their next period. So to calculate when you will ovulate, Smith says to count the number of days in your last few cycles, beginning with the first day you begin bleeding during your period. You’ll probably get a slight range in the number of days in your cycle. Then subtract 14 days from the last day, and you’ve got it.
So If your cycle is usually 26-28 days, Smith says you will ovulate somewhere between days 12 and 14. Since you are most fertile on the days leading up to ovulation, you’ll want to have sex at least every other day between days 10 and 15.
Members of the Trying to Conceive Community have a lot to say on this subject. One woman voiced her frustration that her cycle isn’t always regular. Smith empathized. She pointed out that only about 25% of fertile couples conceive within a given month even with perfect timing, but 90% will conceive within a year. She said doctors recommend that women under 35 try to get pregnant for a year and women over 35 for six months before becoming concerned (unless either partner has a health concern that may be affecting fertility).
Someone else said she finds it helpful to use a combination of methods -- charting her cycle, checking cervical mucus and position, and using an ovulation predictor kit. Another member of the community mentioned that charting allowed her and her doctor to compare her cycles and understand when she was and wasn’t ovulating.
Smith said that some of these methods of predicting ovulation depend on a woman having a pretty regular cycle. The more irregular your periods are, the more likely it is that you are ovulating irregularly or not at all, she said. She recommends that women talk to their doctors if their cycles vary by more than a few days.
Smith also noted that ovulation even in a regular cycle can vary within a few days. So if you are having sex a couple of times during those days before ovulation, you don’t need to worry about it being on the exact day. You don’t want to make sex a chore.