Trying to get pregnant

Once you’ve decided to try for a baby, an active happy sex life is all most people need to conceive.

Fertility expert Professor William Ledger sees many couples hoping to get pregnant.

“Have a happy sex life,” is his top tip. He says that some couples with fertility problems don't have sex often enough to give themselves the best chance of conceiving.

Understanding a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle can be helpful. But there’s no need to try to time sex around your cycle. It’s better simply to have sex often throughout the month.

Understand the monthly cycle

Every month, hormonal changes in a woman’s body cause an egg to be released from the ovaries. This egg travels into the fallopian tubes, which connect the ovaries to the uterus (womb). This is called ovulation.

You’re most likely to get pregnant if you have sex within a day or so of ovulation. Ovulation usually happens about 14 days after the first day of your last period.

An egg lives for about 12-24 hours after it’s released. For you to get pregnant, a sperm must fertilise the egg within this time. Sperm can live for up to seven days inside your body, which means an egg is often fertilised by sperm that entered the body before the egg was released.

Read more about what happens during the menstrual cycle.

Learn more about the monthly cycle and pregnancy in When can I get pregnant?

Frequent sex boosts pregnancy chances

If you’re hoping to get pregnant, having sex every two or three days throughout the month will give you the best chance.

You don’t need to time sex around ovulation. Trying to do this can be stressful, and being stressed may mean you have less sex.

“Some people buy ovulation testing kits, or use temperature charts, to try to monitor when they’re ovulating,” says Professor Ledger.

“But temperature charts can be hard to keep and aren’t always reliable. Both kits and charts can cause unnecessary anxiety without being much use.

“Knowing your exact day of ovulation is only useful if you want to time intercourse to the day. Aim for less stress and more fun. After all, it should be a happy time.”

Find 10 tips for a great sex life.

Find out how to give yourself the best chance of conceiving in How can I get pregnant?

How long does it take to get pregnant?

Nine out of 10 couples in which the woman is under 35 will conceive naturally after one year of having regular unprotected sex.

There is more advice in How long does it usually take to get pregnant?

If you’ve been trying for a year or more and have not become pregnant, see your GP. Your GP can do tests to help identify possible fertility problems, and provide advice on the next steps.

If the female partner is over 35, or you’ve had problems before, such as an ectopic pregnancy or surgery that may have affected your fertility, seek help sooner.

Read more about fertility tests.

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2014

Next review due: 04/10/2016

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