When is the Best Time to Get Pregnant?

Best time to get pregnant

When it comes to pregnancy, it’s more science than magic, and the only sure thing is that every woman, and every couple, is different. Here are some things you can do to increase your chances of successfully getting pregnant. 

Set the stage. Before you start trying, set up an appointment with your doctor to discuss the things you can do to get ready. He or she will conduct a physical, and may suggest a Pap test, STD screening, or vaccinations. They will also review the medications you are taking and how they may affect fertility, as well as any risk factors such as health conditions or family history. They may also suggest genetic counseling if you meet certain criteria.

Your doctor will also recommend some steps you (and your partner) can take to create a friendlier environment for pregnancy: quit smoking and stop taking any illicit drugs, avoid alcohol, limit caffeine intake, control chronic illnesses, reach and maintain a healthy body weight, and get plenty of exercise. They will also advise you to start taking a prenatal vitamin for at least 3 months before trying to get pregnant, to ensure you’re getting plenty of folic acid and other key nutrients.

RELATED: How Much Folic Acid do I Need?

Track the rhythm. Though each woman’s cycle varies, a typical cycle follows a rhythm. When you’re ready to start trying, one of the most effective ways to get pregnant is to start tracking that rhythm to determine when you’re most fertile. Here’s how:

  1. Use an old-fashioned calendar, or download one of hundreds of apps, to help you track your menstrual cycle and pinpoint when you’re most fertile. The first day of your period marks day 1 of your cycle. Start numbering your days from there.
  2. On average, a woman ovulates, or releases an egg, around day 14. If you’re an average woman, you are most fertile from five days before an egg is released to 24 hours after. That puts your “fertile window” between days 9-15.
  3. However, the vast majority of women don’t have tidy 28-day cycles, so there a few more ways you can predict fertility:
    • Take your temperature daily: body temperature often dips immediately prior to ovulation and spikes immediately after.
    • Monitor your cervical fluid: This mucus becomes more thin and stretchy as you approach ovulation.Other data points: Some apps will also suggest you track physical and emotional symptoms to help pinpoint when you’re ovulating.
    • Use an ovulation test: You can also buy over-the-counter ovulation tests to search for the presence of the ovulation-triggering luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. Usually, these tests should be used first thing in the morning, but can be used twice a day as long as it has been three hours since you last used the restroom. Read the instructions carefully, as each test differs.
  4. If your temperature spikes, your cervical fluid is thin and stretchy, your ovulation test is positive, or you’re anywhere in the “fertile window,” have sex and track it! If you become pregnant, tracking when you had sex will help pinpoint your date of conception, and thus your due date.
Determine next steps. If you are still unable to get pregnant, see your healthcare provider early, as your age and how long you’ve been trying may affect any infertility treatment that your provider may suggest. A couple is believed infertile if conception does not happen:
  • After one year of unprotected sex
  • After 6 months in women over age 35
  • If there are known problems causing infertility
However, there are still many options available that can help you and your partner determine what, if anything, is preventing pregnancy, and what treatments may help you conceive and have a baby.