Timed Sexual Intercourse

Intercourse before ovulation occurs (normally up to 24 hours before).

Timed sexual intercourse is when a couple plans to have sex around the time of the female partner’s “fertile window”. This is done in the hopes of increasing chances of conception, and the female partner becoming pregnant as a result. 

To understand how this works, you may need to understand more about the fertile window itself. Women, or non-binary or transgender people who were born female, will be at their most fertile over a certain number of days towards the middle-to-end of their menstrual cycle. These days are commonly referred to as the fertile window, and will normally happen around 4 or 5 days before ovulation occurs. After this time, one of the person’s ovaries will release a mature egg. This makes a total of 6 days per month in which a female partner is most likely to get pregnant.

To increase chances of conception where the fertile window is known, an expert may recommend that a couple have sex the day before ovulation is due to start. This is an example of timed sexual intercourse. In cases where the fertile window is not known, a doctor or healthcare provider may instead recommend that a couple have sex every 2 to 3 days without using contraception. 

The timing of the attempts is crucial to the success at conceiving. This is because the body only releases an egg on the day of ovulation. The cell itself is fragile and will deteriorate quickly, so once the egg has been released there will only be a window of 24 hours or even less time for the egg to be fertilised before it breaks down. Sperm cells, on the other hand, can live for up to 5 days in a female reproductive tract and can fertilise eggs that are released at any point in that time.

If you are trying for a baby and need to know when you are most likely to be fertile to proceed with timed sexual intercourse, there are several different methods to work it out. The quickest way to do it will be to purchase an ovulation predictor kit from a supermarket, a chemist, or online. This is a home test that uses a urine sample to tell you when you are most likely to be fertile. It does this by reading how much luteinizing hormone (LH) is present in your urine.

A doctor or fertility specialist may also suggest that you track your period over several months to determine when you are most likely to be menstruating. Once you know this, it is possible to count backwards to find the day you are most likely to start ovulating. Knowing this should help you to work out your fertile window. There may also be several different indicators about your body that could suggest you are ovulating or approaching ovulation, such as:

  • Wetter, clearer, and more slippery cervical mucus
  • A small rise in basal body temperature (this can be measured with a thermometer)
  • Breast tenderness (which may be experienced by some people)
  • Bloating (which may be experienced by some people)
  • Abdominal pain (which may be experienced by some people)

It must be noted that while the last three points on this list are common symptoms for many people around the time of ovulation and their next menstrual cycle, they are not a reliable method of predicting ovulation.

For the most reliable method of tracking your fertile window and ovulation, you will need to speak to your doctor or healthcare provider. They will be able to help you keep an accurate record of your monthly cycle, helping you to establish a pattern and give you the most chances of succeeding at conception with timed sexual intercourse.