Timing intercourse to maximize conception can be difficult unless you have some idea of your fertile signs on your date of ovulation. The process of conception occurs when an egg is fertilized by a single sperm cell somewhere in the fallopian tube. The egg only survives for about 24 hours after ovulation, so it is necessary to ensure intercourse occurs early enough before ovulation that egg viability is not lost.

The fertile secretions released via the cervix give a rough indication of a woman’s fertility. Immediately following menstruation, there are typically a few days of a dry sensation during which little or new fluids are expelled through the cervix. These are considered infertile days. Following that period, the cervical fluid begins to become more abundant, starting first as a sticky or rubbery secretion and increasing in abundance and stretchiness until it roughly resembles the consistency of semen, which itself is highly nutritive to sperm. The spectrum of cervical fluid continues to a consistency that no only nourishes and sustains sperm but also is less fibrous and impenetrable to sperm than typical less fertile secretions or dryness.

Conception and intercourse can occur at two very different times. It is possible for intercourse on one day not to lead to conception until 5 days later; therefore, it is not feasible to simply test for pregnancy 2 weeks after intercourse if you are not certain when you have ovulated.

Ovulatory pain (mittelschmerz) or spotting may clue you in that conception is imminent if you timed intercourse correctly. The process of conception precedes implantation and production of HCG, the latter of which is associated with a positive pregnancy test. Immediately after conception, most women feel few symptoms, although some have reported:

  • Sore breasts
  • Nausea and/or headaches
  • More noticeable blue veins
  • Food cravings or aversions
  • Increased lotiony discharge

If conception does not occur, the cervical fluid quickly dries up and remains dry through to your menstrual bleeding, which typically will begin 2 weeks after ovulation. If 18 days or more elapse after ovulation with no sign of a period, you are almost certainly pregnant, and you can be very clear when your date of conception was. You also can time your due date from the conception/ovulation date by adding 9 months to the date of ovulation and subtracting 7 days. This method is much more accurate than the typical “pregnancy wheel” used by clinicians that assumes a 14-day estrogenic/pre-ovulatory period.

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