Timing intercourse for baby making explained with advice on spotting ovulation.
While some find conceiving incredibly easy and do it without even trying, others really struggle to fall pregnant. However, the problem for many is simply down to unfortunate timing. As there is a relatively short window of opportunity to conceive during each menstrual cycle, understanding when the best time to have baby-making sex is can really help to speed things up.
The female reproductive system releases a single egg during each menstrual cycle, after which there is a period of 12 to 24 hours during which fertilisation can occur. Take with this that healthy sperm can survive for up to 5 days in fertile cervical fluid and you have a period of 6 days that can be considered as 'optimum' for baby making.
The 'best' time to have sex
Experts seem to be in agreement that the 5 or 6 days leading up to and including ovulation are the best time to have sex if you are trying for a baby as this will ensure that a healthy supply of sperm is available to fertilise the egg when it is released.
Although the most 'ideal' time to have baby-making sex is the day before or of ovulation, its best to try and have sex several times throughout this period rather than hedging your bets on a single opportunity, as this will ensure that sperm is present when the egg is released (rarely do couples conceive if they leave intercourse until after ovulation has occurred).
How to work out when you're ovulating
This is all well and good but the timing described above is completely reliant on knowing when you are going to ovulate; thankfully there are a range of methods that can help you to find this out.
Signs of ovulation
For some women, spotting ovulation is easy as they experience signs such as increased discharge, breast tenderness and a mild 'period-style' cramp in their lower abdomen (known as mittelschmerz); other women experience no symptoms at all. In the text book case of a 28 day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs on day 14. However, most women notice some variation in their cycle meaning that the day 14 'rule' rarely applies.
By counting the number of days in your cycle (starting on the day you begin menstruating one month and ending on the day before you begin menstruating the next month) over several months you'll be able to build up a picture of your average cycle length. Generally ovulation occurs roughly 14 days before the end of your cycle so although not accurate, counting back 14 days from the 'predicted' last day of your cycle will give you an idea of when you might be ovulating.
Charting your cycle
The above described method is a really imprecise way of predicting when your most fertile period will be. Monitoring your cervical mucus and cervical position are much more reliable indicators of when you are about to ovulate.
Charting your BBT (basal body temperature) can also be useful in predicting when the best time to have baby-making sex is. However, this method identifies when you have already ovulated rather than predicting when you are going to, this means that it is more useful in building up a retrospective picture rather than in telling you when you are going to ovulate in your current cycle.
A wide range of ovulation monitoring kits are also available to help you time intercourse, these can be particularly useful if you have a very irregular cycle.
The best approach
While the days before ovulation are the best time to try and conceive, its widely agreed that having regular sex throughout your cycle (2-3 times a week, perhaps with an extra couple of times thrown in during your most fertile period) is a better approach to take than methodically timing intercourse only for baby making.
This will help to keep you and your partner more relaxed about the whole conception process, ensure that there is a relatively constant supply of sperm present throughout the cycle (just in case your charting goes skewiff) and most importantly, will make making baby's more fun!
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