Written on January 24, 2024 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Trying to conceive can require a lot of planning, knowledge, and an understanding of your body and general human biology. It’s not exactly sexy, but it is crucial if you are hoping to get pregnant.
Conception is a tale as old as time (literally)—sperm meets egg and implants in the uterine lining, then gestates and grows for about nine months, and then you give birth. But let’s rewind and start at the very beginning.
To conceive “naturally” or by way of penetrative sex, a person who is born with ovaries and a uterus (among other body parts) must ovulate. Then, sperm must be introduced into the “female” reproductive system (often via ejaculation from a penis). However, there’s more to this process. At the most basic level, the person providing the egg must ovulate, and the person contributing sperm must have healthy sperm that have good motility.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), ovulation most commonly happens 14 days before the first day of your period, regardless of the length of your menstrual cycle.
One way to track ovulation is by using a calendar, though there are also other methods, such as through a number of smartphone applications. Reliable, but not foolproof, methods of knowing when you are ovulating include :
You do not have to have sex at the exact moment that you ovulate to get pregnant, nor do you have to have sex every day to get pregnant. ACOG posits that, due to the fact that sperm lives for as long as five days in a woman's body, and an egg lives for up to 24 hours after ovulation, the fertility window is up to 6 days per cycle. This means that having sex five days prior to ovulation, or even up to one day later, could lead to pregnancy.
According to ACOG, in order to have the best chance of conceiving, “research suggests you should have sex every day or every other day during this six-day window.”
There is no one correct answer to this question. Conception isn’t accomplished every time people have sex, and even when they do, many factors contribute to and hinder the timeline of conception (for example, sperm motility).
If you and your partner are struggling to conceive or have concerns about getting pregnant, talk to a trusted health care provider as they are an excellent resource for education and medical intervention. In this day and age, reproductive technology is sophisticated and provides many options for those who are trying to conceive.
In conclusion, "How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?" is a question with a nuanced answer. By understanding the various factors at play, managing expectations, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can navigate this journey with informed optimism.
Are you hoping and/or trying to get pregnant? Are you curious about your hormonal health?
Everlywell’s Women's Fertility Test measures five key hormone levels in those assigned female at birth that can affect your menstrual cycle, ovulation, and ability to become pregnant. This test can be a helpful first step in understanding reproductive and general health.
The hormones that are tested include estradiol, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and total testosterone. To learn more about these hormones and their functions, visit the Women's Fertility Test information page.
All you need to do is order your test, collect a sample via finger prick, and send your sample to one of our CLIA-certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) labs, and your tests will be reviewed by an independent board-certified physician within your state. Finally, you will receive results that are easy to understand, personalized, and actionable.
Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist is an American Board of Sexology Certified Sexologist and trained Sexuality Educator who primarily works in sexual health communications as a health writer. Gillian earned her BA in Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies and Spanish from Union College (NY), spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar, and then continued her education with Modern Sex Therapy Institutes before earning her MPH from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health with a Certificate in Sexuality, Sexual & Reproductive Health. She is the owner of The Gigi Spot, LLC, a digital sexuality education platform and brand. Gillian aims to educate and use compassion and empathy to foster positive change and development. Her professional interests include sexuality education, curriculum design and consulting, and sex technology.