Q&A Index

Intercourse Timing and Frequency

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What are the best days to get pregnant? How often should I have intercourse when I am trying to get pregnant?

There are many factors which affect your probability of pregnancy. Your age, medical conditions, health, lifestyle and other factors all affect your likelihood of conceiving each cycle. You have varying degrees of control over many of these factors. The number one most important factor affecting your chances of conceiving, however, is something that you and your partner can control: the timing and frequency of intercourse in your fertile window.

What is the fertile window?

Your fertile window is made up of the days in your menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. The length of this fertile phase is determined by the maximum life span of your partner's sperm and your egg. Sperm can survive a maximum of five days in fertile cervical fluid and your ovum can survive for up to one day. Your theoretical fertile window is thus six days long, comprised of the five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation. You only have a chance to conceive when you have intercourse on these days. This means that pregnancy is technically possible from intercourse on any of these six days. The likelihood of actually becoming pregnant, however, is dramatically increased when you have intercourse in the three days immediately leading up to and including ovulation. This makes a practical fertile window of just three days.

In a recent analysis of 119,398 charts from women charting with Fertility Friend, we found that 94% of women who became pregnant had intercourse on at least one of these three days. For conception purposes, it is thus ideal to have intercourse during a three day fertile window which includes your ovulation day and the two previous days.

Intercourse Frequency

There has been some speculation that couples who are trying to conceive should reduce the frequency of sexual intercourse during the fertile window to increase sperm supply. This is not true for most couples. While couples with known male factor issues should consult their doctor for the best intercourse strategy, couples with normal fertility and no known sperm issues should not reduce the frequency of intercourse in the fertile window. Your probability of conception is increased when you have intercourse multiple times in your fertile window. While it is true that sperm concentrations decrease slightly with increasing intercourse frequency, frequent intercourse is still more likely to result in conception than infrequent intercourse for couples with no male factor fertility issues. Each additional act of intercourse within your fertile window increases your probability of conception for that cycle.

Identifying the Fertile Window Prospectively

Frequent intercourse within a narrow fertile window increases your chances of conception and can ultimately reduce the time it takes to conceive. Identifying your fertile window in advance, however, can be something of a challenge since the only certain indicator of ovulation (your temperature rise) occurs after your fertile window has passed.

To find your fertile window in advance, examining your pre-ovulation fertility signs (such as cervical fluid) and cycle statistics (such as when you have ovulated in previous cycles) can be of great benefit. Ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) which detect the surge of LH (luteinizing hormone) that precedes ovulation can also help. The Fertility Analyzer on Fertility Friend will display a Green Light when you enter signs that indicate that you may be entering or in your fertile window.

Fertility Analyzer Screen Shot

Identifying the Fertile Window Retrospectively

Identifying ovulation and your fertile window in retrospect is relatively simple. Once a clear and sustained thermal shift is identified and ovulation is detected on your chart, you can see that your fertile window occurred during the six days prior to the shift and your most probable highly fertile days were the three days before the shift.

Once you see the shift, it is too late to get pregnant that cycle as your most fertile time has already passed. There is great value, however, in identifying your fertile window in retrospect to determine if you have been timing intercourse optimally for conception. If you have been trying for several cycles, this will tell you whether you need to alter your intercourse pattern or seek help.

Using the Intercourse Timing Analyzer to Evaluate your Intercourse Pattern

Based on a statistical analysis of intercourse timing and frequency in successful cycles, we have developed an Intercourse Timing Analyzer (analysis menu above your chart) to help you evaluate your own intercourse pattern over multiple cycles. The Intercourse Timing Analyzer uses a statistical regression model based on successful charts to score your own pattern based on your intercourse timing and frequency in your fertile window.

The Intercourse Timing Analyzer will score your intercourse pattern for each completed cycle as it relates to your probability of pregnancy. The intercourse pattern is scored as Low, Good, or High depending on the pattern's likelihood of resulting in conception. You can then use this information to help determine the course of your Trying to Conceive Journey.

Intercourse Analyzer Screen Shot

If you have several charted cycles with a "low" score, then you have likely not been timing intercourse optimally for conception purposes. This may lengthen your time to conception, even if there are no other factors that are preventing you from conceiving.

You may find that you have been timing intercourse optimally for conception purposes for several cycles. In this case, you may decide to seek medical help to determine what could be preventing you from conceiving. Even if you have been advised to wait a full year or longer, it may be reasonable to seek help earlier if you know that you have been timing intercourse well within your fertile window.

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