According to a recent study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine, a pretty significant percentage of women in the US lack basic knowledge about how the female reproductive system works and how pregnancy occurs. For instance, only 10% of women surveyed were aware that sex needs to happen BEFORE ovulation in order for pregnancy to be possible. Yikes!
In the interest of improving the statistics from the study cited above, I’m going to be writing a weekly installment explaining various reasons why a woman may not be getting pregnant, and how charting her fertility signs can help her to pinpoint those reasons. In this first installment, we’re going to be talking about something that may appear obvious at first, but is actually pretty misunderstood, based on the results from the Yale study – when to time sex to maximize your chances of getting pregnant.
The first and most important step a woman can take to learn when to have sex to get pregnant is to start tracking her primary fertility signs – cervical fluid and basal body temperatures. This will allow her to confirm if and when she’s ovulating each cycle. If she’s not ovulating at all, then it doesn’t matter when she’s having sex – pregnancy is not possible without ovulation. If through tracking your signs you find that you aren’t ovulating, don’t despair – tracking your signs may help you to determine the reason why you’re not ovulating (stay tuned for future blog posts about this). From there, you can take the necessary steps to restore your reproductive health.
If a woman confirms that she is in fact ovulating, then she can use her charts to figure out the best times to have sex to conceive. The key things to remember are:
-Sex must occur BEFORE ovulation in order for pregnancy to be possible. After ovulation, the egg lives for only 12-24 hours if fertilization does not occur. So by the time you’ve noticed a temperature shift, it may be too late. Once you’ve confirmed ovulation with a sustained temperature shift, it’s definitely too late, and if you didn’t conceive during the fertile window for this cycle, you won’t be able to conceive until the next cycle.
-Sperm can live in fertile cervical fluid for up to 5 days – so it’s possible to get pregnant from having sex as early as 5 days before you ovulate. Because it’s not possible to tell when you’ll ovulate ahead of time, start having sex as soon as you start noticing cervical fluid.
-The BEST time to have sex is when you notice wet, fertile-quality cervical fluid – preferably the stuff that resembles raw eggwhites or water gushes :) For a more detailed description of the different types of cervical fluid, check out this article.
-According to the Yale Study, half of the participants believed having sex more than once a day increased chances of conception. While it seems to make sense, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, some doctors recommend having sex every other day during the fertile window to allow the man’s body to replenish its sperm count.
Easy enough, right? Just remember – if your temperatures are still in their lower range, and if you’re observing wet, fertile-quality cervical fluid, then this is an excellent time to get down to baby-making business.
However, some women track their signs diligently and have sex at all the right times, and still have difficulty getting pregnant. In next week’s installment, we’ll start exploring possible reasons for this.
Questions? Ask me in the comments!