Can You Get Pregnant After Ovulation?

Julie Kirk
sperm cells racing to fertilize egg

Your chances of getting pregnant will increase if you know when you are going to ovulate. If you are actively trying to get pregnant or ready to start trying, you may want to track your cycles to help pinpoint ovulation because sometimes it's all about the timing.

Can a Woman Get Pregnant After Ovulation?

Your best chances of getting pregnant are actually a day or two before ovulation. However, there is still the possibility of conceiving if you have already ovulated. When you ovulate, a mature egg is released from the follicle of an ovary and travels through a fallopian tube. The life span of the egg is only 12 to 24 hours. Sperm can live up to 5 days after sex, therefore, if the sperm is already present in the fallopian tubes by the time you ovulate there is a good chance the egg will be fertilized. The fertilized egg may then implant in the uterus.

Fertile Window

It is important to know when your fertile window is if you are trying to get pregnant. A woman's cycle is typically 28 to 32 days. Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period. Ovulation typically occurs around day 14 of your cycle, but because every woman is different and cycles can vary, you may ovulate anywhere between day 11 and day 21 of your cycle.

Your fertile window is the 5 days prior to ovulation and ends on the day you actually ovulate. This is your most fertile time and the best time to have sex to try to conceive.

Chances of Pregnancy Within and Outside Your Fertile Window

The probability of conception on specific days of your fertile window are:

  • On ovulation day, the day before or 2 days before, your chances of conceiving are around 30%.
  • Your chances of conceiving 3 or 4 days before ovulation is around 15%.
  • Your chances of conceiving 5 days before ovulation is around 10%.
  • Anywhere outside of your fertility window such as a week before or a week after ovulation, your chances of pregnancy are very low to non-existent.

Ways to Help Determine Your Fertile Window

To better determine when your fertile window occurs you can try using the following:

Ovulation Predictor Kit

An ovulation predictor kit can help determine if you are ovulating or not. The test detects if there is luteinizing hormone (LH) present and when it rises this means you are going to ovulate. While it can narrow down the timing of ovulation, it cannot guarantee that you do actually ovulate.

Basal Body Temperature

Tracking and logging your basal body temperature can help determine when you are going to ovulate. Your basal body temperature typically rises when you ovulate by less than ½ a degree F or 0.3 C.

Cervical Mucus

Tracking changes in your cervical mucus can help determine when ovulation is approaching. Your cervical mucus will become thin and stretchy at your most fertile time.

Factors That Can Affect When You Ovulate

The following can potentially affect ovulation:

  • Hormone imbalances can affect ovulation.
  • Shorter menstrual cycles of less than 21 days may indicate that you are not ovulating or ovulation is occurring much earlier than normal.
  • Longer menstrual cycles of over 35 days can also indicate you are not ovulating or you are not ovulating regularly.
  • You may have delayed or late ovulation which is when you ovulate after day 21. A few common reasons this may happen include, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), thyroid disorders, stress, medications, and breastfeeding.
  • Ovulation can be affected by stress, illness or sleep disruption which can directly affect hormones.
  • Eating disorders will typically affect your menstrual cycles which in turn will affect ovulation.
  • Extra weight can affect your hormones.
  • Extreme exercise that disrupts you menstrual cycles can affect ovulation.
  • You may simply be tracking your ovulation incorrectly.

Be Aware and Knowledgeable

If you are trying for pregnancy, understanding your cycles, how to track them and knowing when ovulation occurs is important. This will help you become more aware and have a better understanding of your body. Of course, if you have further questions or concerns, you will want to discuss them with your doctor.

Can You Get Pregnant After Ovulation?