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What Are The Odds of Conceiving When You Have Sex After Ovulation?

What Are The Odds of Conceiving When You Have Sex After Ovulation?

If you are like most women in Australia, you probably wonder if you have a chance of conceiving when you have unprotected sex after ovulation. The simplest answer is that your odds of getting pregnant will reduce. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying to get pregnant. 

Sex after you ovulate might enhance your odds of pregnancy. Besides, you might be mistaken about your actual ovulation day. We shall explore all the odds in this post to educate more women in Australia.

How many days after ovulation can you get pregnant?
How many days after ovulation can you get pregnant?

Back to basics: What is conception?

The conception process is slightly more detailed than the story of an egg meeting a sperm or a sperm meeting an egg. While it’s true that the meeting of sperm and eggs is a vital prerequisite to pregnancy, it is still important to know that the process is a bit more complicated than this.

Although women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever need (over 1 million), only 400,000 eggs will be left by the time a woman hits puberty. These eggs are usually suspended in an undeveloped state, and they only grow and develop into mature eggs before ovulation occurs.

Around ovulation, one egg is released from a follicle (the eggs grow and mature in a follicle), then takes about 30 hours to travel from the ovary to the fallopian tube end. The egg stays there and waits for another 30 hours. If fertilisation does not occur within 24 hours, the egg will disintegrate. 

If there are sperm waiting around the reproductive tract before ovulation occurs (sperm can survive in the reproductive tract for up to five days), or if sperm make it to the reproductive tract once an egg is released, fertilisation can occur. 

Many medical experts agree that fertilisation does not necessarily result in successful conception. It takes about six days for the fertilised egg to travel to the uterus, where it gets implanted into the uterine lining. This occurs within 6 to 10 days after fertilisation in the fallopian tube.

Once the fertilised egg is implanted in the uterus lining, it develops and receives the nutrients it requires to result in a pregnancy.  Only about 40% of the fertilised eggs make it past the implantation stage, and it’s at this point that medical professionals consider it a pregnancy.

Getting pregnant: When is the BEST time to have sex?
Getting pregnant: When is the BEST time to have sex?

Conceiving from sex after ovulation

The best way to get pregnant is you have sex before ovulation. You are not alone if you were likely confused about this and may have been told that sex needs to come after ovulation. Many women in Australia don’t realise that the ideal time to have sex for pregnancy is before ovulation, not afterwards.

But let’s say you think you have ovulated – do you need to have sex just in case? The answer is yes. Studies were done to determine the odds of conception at different menstrual cycle stages. The best odds of conception are having sex a day before ovulation and on the ovulation day. However, not everyone agrees that it’s possible to conceive when you have sex after ovulation has passed. 

Based on several studies, the odds of conceiving from having intercourse might be anywhere in the following ranges:

  • 21% to  35%  a day before ovulation
  • 10% to 33% ovulation day
  • 0% to 11% a day after ovulation
  • 0% to 9% two days after ovulation

These statistics assume that you have unprotected sex just once during the fertile window. In case you have sex before ovulation and a day after. Your odds of conceiving will be significantly better than if you only had sex after ovulation.

How long after ovulation can one conceive?

This mainly depends on your ‘conceive’ definition. The fertilisation of the ovulated egg needs to take place within 12 to 24 hours because the egg will no longer be viable after this. 

However, egg fertilisation does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. People who have gone through in vitro fertilisation or IVF can confirm that having an embryo or fertilised egg does not guarantee a pregnancy. The only time you are considered pregnant is when the embryo implants itself into your uterine lining. The implantation process takes place between 5 to 10 days after you ovulate, and it will take several other days before you get a positive pregnancy test result.

Why should you have sex after ovulation?

There is one reason you should consider having sex even if you have ovulated: it might enhance your odds of implantation. One minor study focused on examining the effects of sexual intercourse on IVF and pregnancy success. In the study, certain couples were required to have sexual intercourse around the embryo transfer period, while the other group abstained from sex during this period. The pregnancy rates between the groups initially were not that different, but the number of couples that were still pregnant by the 6th to 8th week was significant.

Of the group that participated in sex during the embryo transfer period, 11.01% still had the pregnancy at the 6th to 8th week. Only 7.69% of those who didn’t have sex during the end embryo transfer were still pregnant by the 6th to 8th week. The assumption is that semen plays a vital role in the health and development of the embryo.

How many times a day should you test for after ovulation?
Chances of getting pregnant after ovulation?

Ovulation day errors

It is also important to remember that ovulation day errors may occur. For instance, you may be wrong about the ovulation day because most ovulation prediction techniques are not highly accurate. So, while you may think that you have ovulated, there is a chance that you’re mistaken.

Currently, there are various ways to detect the most fertile period, including:

  • Tracking changes in the cervical mucus – is considered to be one of the best techniques
  • Charting basal body temperature
  • Using ovulation tests 

Although a basal body temperature chart is one of the most accurate methods you can rely on to determine your ovulation day, it is not error-free. Also, if you are trying to determine your ovulation day by checking the levels of luteinising hormone in your urine (like you do use an ovulation test), you might not know the exact day.

Conception after your fertile window

If you are trying to get pregnant, it might be tempting to worry about whether you are having sexual intercourse at the ideal time. There are days when you are more likely to conceive, but don’t forget that sex isn’t just about making the baby.

That said, if you have sex after ovulation, it’s natural to want to know if it counts. Whether you know you have ovulated or not, continue having sex. You might have miscalculated your ovulation day or assumed that you have ovulated when you haven’t. And even if you have ovulated, having sex afterwards may help the embryo.

Can you get pregnant after ovulation? Your odds of getting pregnant will reduce, but you can still fall pregnant having sex after ovulation