USC Fertility


Sperm Should Be Waiting For The Egg

Myths about the best timing and frequency of sex when trying to get pregnant can lead to unnecessary stress. Even when a couple is trying to conceive, they do not need to have sex every day and there is no need to drop everything and rush into bed at the exact moment of ovulation.

Since sperm lives about two to three days inside the female reproductive tract, having sex two to three times a week is enough to result in pregnancy for most couples.

For couples who prefer not to have intercourse that often, the key is to have the sperm waiting for the egg. Women with 28 to 30 day menstrual cycles typically ovulate around the twelfth or fourteenth day of the cycle. Upon ovulation, the egg is released from the surface of the ovary and is then captured by one of the fallopian tubes. The egg has a 24-hour lifespan during which it can be penetrated or fertilized by sperm.

Research studies have shown that sex on the days just before ovulation most often lead to pregnancy. Highest pregnancy rates were seen if sex occurred on the day before ovulation (the day of the LH surge detected by over the counter ovulation predictor kits).

Sex as early as six days before ovulation also had a chance of pregnancy, but it was much smaller. If the only time sex occurred was after ovulation, there were no pregnancies. This is how we know that the sperm should be waiting for the egg.

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