Can You Get Pregnant After Ovulation?

The short answer is yes, getting pregnant is still possible for about 24 hours after ovulation. 

How is it possible to get pregnant after ovulation?

Ovulation is defined as the moment when the ovary releases an egg. After the egg is released, it begins its journey down the fallopian tubes into the uterus. In order for conception to occur, the egg must be fertilized at some point during this journey. If not, the egg dies within 24 hours and is shed along with the uterine lining during a woman’s period. In this sense, not only is it possible to get pregnant after ovulation, it’s necessary. If you define the moment of getting pregnant as when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, this necessarily happens after ovulation. 

Can sex after ovulation lead to pregnancy?

But when most people ask this question, what they’re really wondering is whether intercourse that happens after ovulation can result in a pregnancy. And the answer to that question is also yes. Under ideal conditions, sperm can live for up to five days inside of your vagina, patiently waiting for the egg to be released. This is why the fertile window is said to last about six days: it’s the lifespan of the sperm added to the lifespan of the egg. If you have sex a few days before ovulation, the sperm may survive long enough to still be there for ovulation. And if you have sex after the egg has already been released, it’s possible that the sperm could reach the egg before it expires. 

When is the best time to have sex if you want to conceive?

While it’s possible for the heartiest sperm to survive for up to five days, for most sperm, it’s more like two days. That means that the best time to have sex if you want to conceive a baby is the two days before ovulation, and the day of ovulation itself. This is the time period when over 70 percent of all pregnancies are conceived. Of course, pinpointing ovulation is easier said than done. Even if you religiously take your temperature every morning, it’s impossible to know exactly when you ovulated. The only way to do that is with an ultrasound. 

Given the difficulty of pinpointing the precise moment that ovulation occurs, it’s important to have sex often during your entire estimated fertile window. That way, you can be sure you don’t miss any chances. 

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