This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Ovulation is the process by which a mature egg is released from a follicle that has developed in your ovary.
For healthy women, with normal reproductive functioning, the process of ovulation is something that occurs regularly. For women with 28 day cycles, ovulation usually occurs around day 14. A short window of 12 to 24 hours marks the time in which an egg can be fertilized after being released from the ovary. During this time, you are most fertile and therefore, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is much higher.
Why is Ovulation the Best Time to Try to Get Pregnant?
Typically, the most fertile time of the month will begin three to four days before ovulation and ends anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after ovulation has occurred. Sperm are able to survive for three or four days after ejaculation in the female reproductive tract and your egg can live for 24 to 48 hours following ovulation. These two facts add together to create approximately a 5 day period that you need to have sex if you are wanting to get pregnant.
Having intercourse extremely close to the time of ovulation means that you will greatly enhance your chances of becoming pregnant. In fertile women, who experience regular cycles, there is a 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant during each period. This means that 75 to 85 percent of women will become pregnant within one year if they are having intercourse without birth control. Of course, this makes knowing your fertile days even more important. Additionally, noticing the hormonal and physical changes that you experience each month during your cycle can provide some clues about when ovulation is right around the corner.
Your Age and Your Chances of Getting Pregnant Each Month
In addition to timing when you have sex, your age can also affect your chances of getting pregnant each month. American Society for Reproductive Medicine outlines your chances of getting pregnant each month in their Age and Fertility. A Guide for Patients report.
“A woman’s best reproductive years are in her 20s. Fertility gradually declines in the 30s, particularly after age 35. ” At 30, you have 20% chance of getting pregnant each month. If you are not having sex during your fertile period around ovulation, that percentage will drop to almost nothing. By the time you are 40, that success percentage drops to below 5%. That means less than 5 women out of 100 will successfully get pregnant in any given month at 40.”
How Hard Is It To Get Pregnant?
How do I Know When I’m Going to Ovulate?
The easiest way to determine when you will ovulate is using ovulation predictor kits. As stated above, they will let you know you will be ovulating soon.
Ovulation comes with many physical signs, giving you a good idea as to when it will occur. Some physical signs that you might experience include:
- Breast Tenderness
- Discomfort in the Lower Abdomen – About 20 percent of women will experience discomfort or pain in the lower abdomen when the egg is leaving the ovary. This condition is known as mittelschmerz” at can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
- Changes in Cervical Mucus – Before ovulation, cervical mucus is generally cloudy and thick in nature. However, right before ovulation, it will become clear, slippery, and stretchy in a state that resembles raw egg whites.
- Basal Body Temperature Shifts – Right after ovulation, your body temperature can increase anywhere from 0.4 to 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Tracking your BBT has to be done for several months to accurately determine when you are ovulating though.
TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read Summary
Your chances of getting pregnant are highest when you have sex at ovulation and are in your 20’s. If you meet these criteria, you have about a 25% chance of getting pregnant each month of trying. The older you get, your odds of getting pregnant each month decreases. Having sex at non fertile times is fun, but won’t get you pregnant.
Wilcox AJ, Dunson D, Baird DD. The timing of the “fertile window” in the menstrual cycle: day specific estimates from a prospective study. BMJ: British Medical Journal. 2000;321(7271):1259-1262.
“Pregnancy.” Trying to Conceive. Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2017. <https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/before-you-get-pregnant/trying-to-conceive.html>.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Age and Fertility. A Guide for Patients.