How Long After Ovulation Can You Get Pregnant?

It is possible to become pregnant after ovulation. When a person has sex within 12-24 hours of the release of a mature egg, the chances of conceiving are high.

Ovulation occurs when one of the ovaries releases a mature egg. This is when the body is ready to receive sperm for fertilization.

If fertilization does not occur, the egg breaks down into the lining of the uterus. The body will then shed the remains during a person’s monthly period.

Ovulation occurs anytime between 12-24 hours. After the ovary releases an egg, it survives for about 24 hours before dying unless sperm can fertilize it.

If a person has sexual intercourse before or during the ovulation period, the chances of conceiving are high. This is because sperm can survive in the cervix for up to 5 days. Therefore, it is important to understand the fertile ovulation days.

What are Fertile Ovulation Days? How is it calculated?

Fertile ovulation days are the period during which it is possible to get pregnant by sexual contact. This is the day of ovulation plus the time that the sperm can live inside the cervix before fertilizing the egg.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a person can get pregnant if they have sex anywhere from 5 days before to 1 day after ovulation.

Depending on the menstrual cycle, fertile ovulation days can vary from one person to another.

To calculate fertile ovulation days, a person should note the first day of a period until the next period. This time frame is the menstrual cycle. On average, most menstruating people have a 28-day cycle.

However, it can take 21-35 days for some, according to the Office of Women’s Health. According to the ACOG, ovulation occurs around day 14 of the menstrual cycle.

For example, a person with a 28-day cycle will have fertile days 5 days before ovulation.

How many days after ovulation is it possible to get pregnant?

Pregnancy is possible 12–24 hours after ovulation. This is because the released egg only survives for 24 hours before the sperm can no longer fertilize it.

What is the probability of getting pregnant each day before or after ovulation?

The probability of getting pregnant in the days before and after ovulation varies from person to person.

One study examined the timing of intercourse and the probability of pregnancy in relation to ovulation. There were 192 pregnancies from 221 healthy women. The researchers concluded that they could estimate the probability of getting pregnant on each day of the fertile period between 10-33%, depending on the day.

5 days before ovulation 10%
4 days before ovulation 16%
3 days before ovulation 14%
2 days before ovulation % 27
1 day before ovulation 31%
ovulation day 33%

The same study authors also noted that the 7th day before ovulation and the day after ovulation may have a 12% chance of conceiving.

However, the chances of getting pregnant before or after ovulation depend on several factors, including:

  • age
  • frequency of sexual intercourse
  • menstrual cycle

What Methods Are Available to Determine or Predict Ovulation?

For those trying to conceive, tracking ovulation is crucial to allow them to identify the most fertile days in the menstrual cycle.

Here are some of the methods a person can use to monitor or predict ovulation.

basal body temperature chart

Basal body temperature (BBT) is the temperature at which the body is at rest.

Graphing BBT over a number of months by measuring after waking up each morning will help predict ovulation.

During or near ovulation, there is a slight increase in BBT. A person can use a digital thermometer to monitor these tiny changes in temperature.

Monitoring the BBT can help understand when ovulation has occurred and therefore can predict the days in the cycle when pregnancy is possible.

Ovulation detecting kits

The use of ovulation predictor kits such as test strips and digital tests will often help measure the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) that rises during ovulation.

A person would need to run tests for days in a row to detect the increase in LH.

Once they notice a consistent increase, experts recommend having daily sex for the next few days to increase the chances of pregnancy.

Circular graphics applications

Various cycle apps such as Clue period tracker and Flo period ovulation tracker can help calculate ovulation period and fertility window.

Creating an ovulation chart using these apps will show the date of ovulation and the days when a person’s body is most fertile.

fertility monitors

For people trying to conceive or wanting to avoid pregnancy, using fertility monitors to monitor ovulation can help people plan for intercourse.

Fertility monitors work by measuring important body changes such as BBT, heart rate and breathing.

By compiling this data, the fertility monitor can predict the fertility window.

cervical mucus method

Observing cervical mucus can provide insight into when a person may ovulate.

As ovulation approaches, cervical mucus turns into a thin, clear, stringy, slippery consistency. It may look similar to a raw egg white.

The mucus allows the sperm to swim to the egg, which is released during intercourse.

Ideally, this is the ideal time to have sex, as the chances of getting pregnant are high.

How to Determine the Best Time for Sexual Intercourse to Get Pregnant?

Watching for signs of ovulation, such as a slight increase in BBT, changes in cervical mucus, and increased sex drive can help determine the best time to have sex to increase your chances of conceiving.

In addition, having sex during the fertile period increases the chances of getting pregnant. During this time, the body is ready to receive sperm for fertilization.

How does a person know if they are not ovulating?

On average, the menstrual cycle lasts 21-35 days. An irregular cycle lasts less than 21 days or up to 35 days, or at least it could mean that person is not ovulating.

When Should You Talk to a Doctor?

If a person does not become pregnant after 1 year of trying to conceive, they should speak to a doctor.

Age can also determine when to seek help. People aged 35-40 should speak to a doctor after 6 months of trying to get pregnant. For those over the age of 40, a healthcare professional may perform some fertility tests.

A doctor may also test for possible signs of infertility or if a person has a history of recurrent miscarriages, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, previous cancer treatment, or irregular periods.

Summary

A person can get pregnant 12-24 hours after ovulation because a released egg can live in the cervix for up to 24 hours.

Understanding the menstrual cycle is essential for those trying to conceive.

Beyond that, a person can use methods such as BBT charting, cycle scheduling apps, fertility monitors, changes in cervical mucus, and ovulation predictor kits to increase their chances of pregnancy.

Medical News Today, How long after ovulation can someone get pregnant?, 2020

References

  • colombo B., et al. (2000). Daily fecundability: First results from a new data base.
    https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol3/5/3-5.pdf
  • Fertility awareness-based methods of family planning. (2019).
    https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/fertility-awareness-based-methods-of-family-planning
  • How can I tell when I’m ovulating?. (2019).
  • ovulation calculator. (2019).
    https://www.womenshealth.gov/ovulation-calculator
  • Trying to get pregnant. (2018).
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/getting-pregnant/
  • Wilcox. AJ, take meat. (1995). Timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation — Effects on the probability of conception, survival of the pregnancy, and sex of the baby.

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