Improve your chances of getting pregnant

When am I most fertile during my cycle?

You’re most fertile when an egg is released from your ovaries (ovulation). However, for the best chance of getting pregnant, have sex every two to three days throughout the month. Visit the NHS Choices for more information (external link).

Regular sex

Although you’re most fertile during the days around ovulation, if you’re trying to conceive, you don’t need to time having unprotected sex to match when you’re ovulating.

Trying to plan sex around the time you’re ovulating can be stressful. If you’re stressed you’re less likely to have sex as often, which can affect your chances of getting pregnant.

Your menstrual cycle

Your menstrual cycle lasts from the first day of your period up to, but not including, the first day of your next period. The length of a woman’s menstrual cycle can vary. Anything from 24 to 35 days is common, although it could be longer or shorter than this. On average, it lasts 28 days.


During your menstrual cycle hormones are released to stimulate your ovaries. An egg stored in your ovaries begins to grow and mature. When the egg is mature it’s released from your ovaries (ovulation) and travels down the fallopian tubes. Occasionally, more than one egg is released. Ovulation occurs 14 days before the start of your next period.

Some women may recognise signs that they’re ovulating, such as:

  • breast tenderness
  • abdominal pain
  • slight vaginal bleeding
  • change in vaginal secretions so they become thinner and more stretchy
  • increased sexual desire.

Natural family planning

Natural family planning methods are used by couples to achieve or avoid pregnancy based on evidence based and scientifically accurate information about fertility. The Billings Ovulation Method™ teaches you to recognise the natural signs and symptoms of fertility and infertility in each menstrual cycle at any stage of your reproductive life, including during breastfeeding. It is a healthy, proven and highly effective method, easy to learn and simple to use. Couples choosing this method should be taught by an accredited Billings™ teacher. Information, teaching centres and statistics available at Fertility Care Scotland on 0141 221 0858.

Complications and further help

For some women getting pregnant happens very quickly, but for others it can take longer. This can be upsetting, but it is normal. If you’ve been trying for a baby for one to two years without success, see your GP for advice.

Last Updated: 24 June 2014
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