If you’re actively trying to conceive (TTC), you know that timing intercourse around ovulation is key to getting pregnant. The app tells you that your fertile window is coming up and ovulation day is near. 

But as ovulation day approaches, life gets in the way of your fertility plans. Maybe you worked late and aren’t feeling sexy. Maybe your partner got invited on a bro trip and suffers from perpetual FOMO.

What happens if you can’t do the deed on ovulation day?

The answer to this question lies in another question:

Do you have a 100% chance of getting pregnant on ovulation day? 

In this article, we share statistics to help you plan intercourse around your best chances of conceiving. Here’s why putting all that effort into one day of the month may not be your best strategy.

When is ovulation?

To time sex around ovulation, you first need to know when it’s happening. Ovulation is the part of your cycle when the egg is released from the ovary. This step has to happen for the sperm to meet the egg and turn into a pregnancy.

It typically occurs 14 days before your next period. So, for someone with a 28-day cycle, ovulation happens around day 14. Ovulation day varies from person to person. It can even fluctuate from one cycle to the next for the same woman.

Tracking your menstrual cycle and getting familiar with the subtle changes in your body is the first step to figuring out when you ovulate. 

How do you know when you’re ovulating?

Once you know how to estimate the timing of ovulation, you can start working with the clues your body is giving you to confirm it. Paying attention to physical signs and symptoms, along with at-home testing, can help you pin down the precise day the egg is released. 

Here are some ways to track ovulation at home:

  • Cycle tracking. Mark your calendar the day you start your period, because this is day one of your cycle. If you have a regular menstrual cycle (21-35 days), ovulation generally happens right in the middle. Your cycle ends when you get another period. If you find yourself subtracting 14 days from your next period and the math still isn’t mathing, it’s totally fine to defer to technology. A cycle tracking app can help predict your next period, fertile window, and ovulation day.

  • Basal body temperature charting. Your basal body temperature goes up slightly after ovulation. By taking your temperature every morning when you wake up, you can spot a pattern and confirm which day you ovulated.

  • Ovulation predictor kits. At-home ovulation tests measure a hormone called LH, or luteinizing hormone, in your pee. This hormone kicks off ovulation, so the point of testing is to see when the hormone is the highest. Ovulation predictor testing isn’t a one-time thing — it may take several tests to catch a spike in LH. When a test strip detects a surge in LH, ovulation is likely to occur within the next 12-48 hours.

  • Look for physical symptoms. Subtle changes in your body happen during ovulation to improve your chances of pregnancy.

  • Cervical mucus, also known as vaginal discharge, gets more clear, thin, and takes on a consistency similar to egg whites. The position of your cervix changes too, and may feel more soft to the touch than other times in your cycle.

  • You may also notice ovulation pain, or discomfort on one side of the low belly, around the time of the egg’s release.

What are the odds of getting pregnant on ovulation day?

Trying to pin down ovulation day is an important piece of the puzzle when TTC, but isn’t your only shot at getting pregnant. In fact, the chances of conceiving on ovulation day are actually slim compared to the rest of the fertile window.

Sperm can live for up to five days in the woman’s body, and the egg can survive for 12-24 hours after ovulation. This means you can conceive any time during your fertile window, which covers the five days before ovulation to the day after.

Your chances of getting pregnant on each cycle day are as follows: 

Be the expert in you.

Take the Quiz

  • 3 days before ovulation: 27%

  • 2 days before ovulation: 33%

  • Day before ovulation: 41% 

  • Ovulation day: 20%

  • Day after ovulation: 8%

So, if you’re wondering if you have a 100% chance of getting pregnant on ovulation day, the answer is no. It’s more important to have sex during the fertile window to improve your odds.

Tips to stay sane while TTC 

The TTC journey involves a lot of mental math, detective work, and problem-solving that you may not have realized you had in you. It’s healthy to take a break from overthinking every now and then and enjoy the ride. Here are some tips to keep you sane along the way:

  • Stay patient. Remember that every couple has their own challenges, and no two fertility journeys are alike. No matter how badly you want it, some couples take longer to get pregnant than others. 

  • Use your resources. If you’ve been trying for more than a year (or six months if you’re over 35), it might be time to see a fertility specialist. They can run tests and help you figure out the next steps based on your individual situation.

  • If you’re not in a position to see a specialist, that’s okay. You can connect with thousands of women going through similar situations by joining the Rescripted community. You’ll get the chance to read familiar stories and learn more about your own body — wherever you are on your fertility journey.

  • Trust the process. At the end of the day, the things affecting your fertility are largely out of your control. Remember to find ways to enjoy life so you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture…because your day will come. 

Medical Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or consultation. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your healthcare regimen. 

Alexa Davidson is a registered nurse and freelance health writer. She’s written for various women’s health companies, covering topics like natural hormone balance, fertility, and disease prevention. On her own fertility journey, Alexa has experienced profound loss and is passionate about supporting others with similar experiences. When she’s not researching or writing, Alexa can be found in the kitchen, where her specialty is making healthy versions of comfort foods. Nashville Hot Tofu, anyone?