When Does Conception Occur?

When Does Conception Occur When you want to start your family or expand it, one of the most commonly asked questions relating to this quest is "when does conception occur"? Many people think that they can just have sex and get pregnant. For some people it happens that way, but for many conception takes a bit of planning. Fertilization can only happen in a 12 to 24 hour timeframe during your WHOLE cycle.

What is Ovulation?

Ovulation normally occurs about two weeks before a woman's period starts. Your eggs, in your ovaries, begin growing tiny sacs filled with liquid around them. These fluid filled sacs are follicles. Your body goes through a series of hormonal changes at this time. When your body triggers the release lutenizing hormone (LH), ovulation is right around the corner. A positive ovulation test result indicates you will be ovulating in 24 to 36 hours. This is when you are most fertile and the chances of you getting pregnant are the greatest. Ovulation is when your egg bursts out of the follicle into one of your fallopian tubes.

What Happens After Ovulation

After you ovulate, the follicle develops into the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is responsible for producing the increased progesterone needed by your uterus. Progesterone helps the uterus build a nice thick lining. The changes are necessary for the successful implantation should fertilization of the egg occur. After ovulation, your egg starts the journey down your fallopian tube to your uterus. If there are sperm available, fertilization may occur. If not, the egg will disintegrate and be absorbed by the uterine lining when it arrives.

Timing Sex for Conception

Timing is everything if you are trying to get pregnant. The closer to ovulation you have intercourse the better. If you have a typical 28 day cycle, try to have sex on the 10th, 12th, and 14th days of your monthly cycle. This will help sperm be available to fertilize the egg once ovulation has occurred.

What is Conception?

Now that you understand what ovulation is, it is important to understand what happens during conception. Conception occurs when the sperm meets the egg and fertilizes the egg. It isn't as easy as just having the sperm bump into the egg. There can be many sperm trying to tunnel their way into the egg to fertilize it. Only the strongest, quickest sperm can perform the feat. Once one sperm has made it's way through all the egg's defenses, the outer part of the egg changes chemically, preventing any other sperm from being added to the dna mix.

When Does Conception Occur?

If you use an ovulation calendar, you will notice that it says you are fertile for about 5 days. This does not mean conception can happen all those days. Conception can only happen after ovulation and in the following 12 to 24 hours. You can only get pregnant for 12 to 24 hours each month, directly after you ovulate. Surprising, isn't it? How long it takes for the sperm to fertilize the egg depends on how strong it is. It has to work it's way through the egg's defenses before conception is complete. Your fertile time frame takes into considertion sperm's ability to survive after ejaculation. Healthy sperm can survive up to 5 days in your reproductive track. This means sperm could have been hanging around your fallopain tubes for a couple of days before the egg make it's grand entrance.

What Happens After Conception?

The fertilized egg will travel through the fallopain tube to the woman's uterus. Once it arrives, it will implant in the uterine wall. The implanted embyro will divide into the fetus and the placenta. Growth will continue for approximately the next 38 weeks. Yes, pregnancy is 40 weeks long, but the date is calculated from when ovulation occured, not when you get a positive pregnancy test.


Holesh JE, Lord M. Physiology, Ovulation. [Updated 2017 Oct 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2018 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441996/ “Egg Meets Sperm.” Khan Academy, Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/cells/embryology/a/egg-meets-sperm. Brown, Haywood MD. “Stages of Development of the Fetus - Women's Health Issues - Merck Manuals Consumer Version.” Merck Manuals Professional Edition, www.merckmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/normal-pregnancy/stages-of-development-of-the-fetus#v809218.

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