Is there a best time to have sex to get pregnant?

couple in bed in the morning
Photo credit: / Dean Mitchell

Some studies claim that a man's sperm count is higher in the morning, but the differences are so minimal, it doesn't matter much in terms of getting pregnant. Say your mate's sperm count goes from 87 million in the evening to 88 million in the morning. This may sound like a lot, but it doesn't change much in the real world. After all, it only takes one little swimmer to do the job.

There are many other more important things that affect your chances of getting pregnant, including ovulation and staying healthy. Here's your guide. 

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Why having sex during your fertile window is more important 

If you really want to swing the odds of getting pregnant in your favor, you're better off focusing on timing sex close to ovulation. For women with a typical 28-day cycle, the fertile period is from around day 10 to around day 16 of the cycle. Having sex twice during this period of time should be enough for fertile couples to conceive.

Other ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant

Adopt healthy habits

  • Eat well. Start making smart food choices now so your body will be stocked up with the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. Having a low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder for some women to become pregnant.
  • Stop unhealthy habits such as smoking and drugs, which can interfere with fertility. Get help if you need it.
  • Take prenatal vitamins. Nutrients your body needs for a healthy pregnancy and baby include iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and – perhaps most importantly – folic acid.
  • De-stress. While we don't know the exact connections between stress and fertility, we do know that high stress levels can affect your hormone function, which can in turn affect your menstrual cycles.

Manage pre-existing conditions

Certain health conditions and risk factors could affect you or your baby if you become pregnant. Meeting with your doctor for a preconception visit can help you identify and address pre-existing conditions, such as depression, diabetes, or high blood pressure, that could affect pregnancy and fertility. Your doctor will also review any medications that you take to make sure they're safe for pregnancy and discuss other options if changes need to be made.

Relax and have fun

Try not to take all the fun out of sex by making it a job. (If you're having fertility troubles, this can be hard to do.) Don't force yourself to have sex more often just to improve your chances of conception. Healthy sperm can live for three to seven days in the female reproductive tract, so two times during your fertile period is plenty. More is not better if you're not having fun!

Our ovulation calculator will do the menstrual math for you and give you an idea of when you'll be ovulating.

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ACOG. 2021. Good health before pregnancy: Prepregnancy care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

CDC. 2021. Planning for pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

March of Dimes. 2020. Your checkup before pregnancy. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2021. How to get pregnant. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

MedlinePlus. 2020. Steps to take before you get pregnant. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Office on Women's Health. 2021. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Trying to conceive. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Elizabeth Dougherty

Elizabeth Dougherty is a veteran parenting writer and editor who's been contributing to BabyCenter since 2015. She's an intrepid traveler, devoted yogi, and longtime resident of Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and son.