Whether planning or avoiding pregnancy, one way to get the result you want is to be aware of your cycle and how it works. Despite living with a menstrual cycle for several years, many women only have a superficial understanding on how to optimize the timing of their sexual activity in order to achieve or avoid pregnancy. Here’s what to know about using your cycle to your advantage.
When you go to your doctor’s office, it’s common to be asked when the first day of your most recent period was. This is because this date establishes the beginning of your cycle. One important caveat is that this does not include spotting or staining, but is rather the first day of actual flow. Make sure to always mark this date down if you’re trying to track the rest of your cycle, especially before you go to see your gynecologist.
Ovulation (an egg being released from the ovary) occurs exactly 14 days prior to your first day of flow. So, if you menstruate on day 28, ovulation occurs on day 14; if you menstruate on day 35, ovulation occurs on day 21; if you menstruate on day 25, ovulation occurs on day 11. If you keep track of your first day of flow, then you can extrapolate the days that you’ll be ovulating.
Insemination, whether through intercourse or reproductive endocrinology methods, just before ovulation is much more likely to result in a pregnancy than during or after ovulation. This is because fertilization is the results of the ovulated egg ‘landing’ in a pool of sperm waiting for it in the end of the fallopian tube. In addition, sperm can live for 48 to 72 hours, so alternating intercourse days prior to ovulation increases the chance for fertilization to occur.
For the couple trying to get pregnant, alternate day intercourse before and during ovulation is most likely to result in pregnancy; however, the average couple takes between 3-9 months to get pregnant. If you don’t get pregnant during this time frame with proper attention to your cycle, then your gynecologist can recommend other options and further testing.
For the couple trying to avoid getting pregnant, intercourse after ovulation is least likely to result in pregnancy; however, this relies upon regular, predictable cycles. Without regularity and predictability, this method of contraception is not reliable. For this reason, you should see your gynecologist for additional ways to prevent pregnancy and to ensure you understand the right timing for your cycle.
Whatever your goals for family planning, our expert team can help. To get started, we invite you to contact our New York City office by calling or filling out our online form.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!