Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Fertility Unit
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Intercourse Timing

It only takes the egg between 12 and 24 hours to make its way through the fallopian tube after ovulation, while sperm can survive for three of four days inside a woman. The best chance of conception occurs when a couple have intercourse one to two days before ovulation.

A woman typically ovulates 14 days before her period. If a woman has a regular cycle length of 28 days, she will ovulate mid-cycle - 14 days after day one of her period. If the cycle is longer, say 34 days, ovulation occurs around 20 days after day one of a period - not mid-cycle.

Using this calculation will tell you when the best chance of conception will be.
Some women know when they are ovulating from changes in their body and the way they feel. Some typical indicators are breast soreness, heavier and more opaque vaginal discharge, tightness in the abdomen.

Many others have no noticeable symptoms.

Basal body temperature (BBT)

Two days after ovulation, your temperature rises slightly - around 1/4 to 1/2 a degree. While this is not useful for that particular cycle, recording your temperature every morning for a few months can show if your cycle is regular, and help predict your best day for conception.

Regular intercourse

Given that sperm can survive inside a woman for a number of days, if a couple is having regular sex (two to three times a week) there is a good chance that there will be sperm to meet your egg when it arrives.

It is a myth that men should "store" their sperm by abstaining from sex. Long periods of abstinence can lead to a decrease in sperm quality. Therefore couples are advised to have regular intercourse to maximise chances of falling pregnant.