To get pregnant, the sperm must come in contact with an egg. This is very different from most of the stories told to us by our parents! But getting pregnant is very simple — If the sperm comes in contact with the egg, fertilisation takes place. Once the egg is fertilised, it travels down the fallopian tube and towards the uterus. The fertilised egg increasingly starts to divide into more cells, growing into a ball. This ball is now known as a blastocyst. It enters the uterus 3–4 days after conception. Since sperm can remain in a woman’s uterus for five days after sex, fertilisation can happen any time during those five days.

For 2 to 3 days, the ball of cells floats in the uterus. Implantation occurs when the ball of cells attaches to the uterine lining, and pregnancy begins. Implantation usually begins six days after fertilisation and completes in 3–4 days.

When a fertilised egg implants in the uterus, it releases pregnancy hormones that stop the uterine lining from shedding. This is why people don’t get periods when they are pregnant. After sexual intercourse, it might take up to two or three weeks to become pregnant.
If you are planning to conceive a baby, don’t rely on luck. Discover how to conceive, starting with ovulation tracking and fertility dos and don’ts.1

Predicting ovulation:

Your chances of getting pregnant can be increased by being aware of when you ovulate (when the ovary produces an egg) and by having regular sex — five days before and on the day of ovulation.

Ovulation is the release of the mature egg from the ovary during a menstrual cycle. After being released, the egg travels down the fallopian tube and stays there for 12 to 24 hours, where it can be fertilised. Under ideal conditions, sperm can survive inside the female reproductive system for up to 5 days after sexual intercourse. Your chances of becoming pregnant are highest when live sperm are found in the fallopian tube during ovulation.

Normally, ovulation occurs around 14 days before the next menstrual period begins. The time between ovulation and the start of the next period may vary depending on the duration of each person’s cycle. If you don’t have a regular 28-day monthly cycle (like many other women), you can use a period tracker to track the duration, ovulation and most fertile days of your menstrual cycle.

To get pregnant quickly, look for ovulation signs and symptoms in addition to the period tracker:

  • Change in vaginal secretions (cervical mucus) — Just before ovulation, you might experience an increase in clear, moist, and stretchy vaginal secretions. Shortly after ovulation, cervical mucus thickens, turns cloudy, and becomes less noticeable.
  • Change in basal body temperature — Your basal body temperature, or resting body temperature, slightly increases during ovulation. Measure your temperature every morning before getting out of bed with a thermometer that can measure the basal body temperature. Keep a record of the outcomes and look for a pattern. You’ll be most fertile during the two to three days before your fever rises, and this is your best chance for you to become pregnant.

An over-the-counter ovulation kit can also help to determine when you are most likely to ovulate. These kits examine your urine for the hormone surge that occurs just before ovulation. Ovulation occurs 36 hours following a positive test result.

Fertility do’s:

Following these simple steps can help you to get pregnant:

  • Have sex regularly — Highest pregnancy rates are found in couples who have sex every day or every other day.
  • Have sex right before ovulation — If having sex every day is not possible or pleasurable, try having sex every two to three days once your period has stopped. By doing this, you can make sure that you have sex when you are most fertile.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight — Overweight and underweight women are more likely to experience ovulation problems. Maintaining a normal weight helps in preventing ovulation disorders. Sometimes weight changes can result in hormonal fluctuations which result in infertility. Obesity can increase your risk of miscarriage. Pregnant women are advised by experts to aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 27.

Fertility don’ts:

To enhance your ways to get pregnant:

  • Avoid smoking — Tobacco has numerous negative effects on fertility, your overall health and the health of the fetus. If you smoke, you should consult your doctor before trying to get pregnant.

Smoking causes alterations in your cervix and fallopian tubes, which might result in a miscarriage. It can also result in an ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb) which doesn’t lead to a child.

  • Don’t consume alcoholic beverages — Fertility has been associated with heavy alcohol consumption. It’s best to avoid alcohol if you’re trying to get pregnant. Alcohol has an impact on every stage of pregnancy, especially the first few weeks.
  • Avoid caffeine consumption — According to a study, caffeine consumption of fewer than 200 milligrams per day has no impact on fertility. This is about one or two cups (6 to 8 ounces) of coffee per day.
  • Don’t overdo it when it comes to intense exercises — Exercise that is intense and rigorous and which is done for more than five hours a week has been linked to hormonal changes and also to decreased ovulation. If you are at a healthy weight, intense running, aerobics, swimming, or biking makes it difficult to get pregnant. 2 3

Call your doctor when:

Consult your doctor or a fertility specialist if you’ve been trying to get pregnant but haven’t been successful.

When should you seek medical attention, and how long should you wait? Your age will determine that.

  • Women under the age of 35 should try for at least a year before seeking medical attention.
  • Women who are 35 years of age and older should see a doctor after six months of trying.

Make an appointment with your doctor immediately if you experience irregular or no periods, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, a history of miscarriage, hernia surgery, or a problem with the testicles (in the male partner).

The doctor will evaluate your overall health and medical history. People who are having problems conceiving can benefit from medications, artificial insemination procedures, and surgery.