How often should you have sex to get pregnant?

couple cuddling on the kitchen floor
Photo credit: / PeopleImages

You may have heard that having sex twice a day during ovulation makes it easier to get pregnant. It’s true that the more sex you have during this time, the better your chances, but you don’t need to stress about the exact frequency. Here's what to know about having sex to conceive, including how to recognize you're ovulating

When to have sex if you're trying to conceive

When it comes to having sex to get pregnant, try not to stress. Having sex during ovulation is definitely important, but how often you do it depends on you and your partner.

Advertisement | page continues below

Science shows that the highest pregnancy rates in couples occur among those who have sex daily, or at least every other day. That's not always possible, or even enjoyable, for everyone. But if you do wonder how often you should have sex to get pregnant, a good rule of thumb is at least every two to three days soon after the end of your period. You can become pregnant if you have sex anywhere from five days before you ovulate until a day after it, so this is when you will be at your most fertile.

Remember, sperm can survive inside your body for about 72 hours, so if you have sex in the three day-span before ovulation, you're more likely to get pregnant because there will be sperm already there to greet your just-released egg. The lifespan of an egg once released is only about 24 hours, so if sperm arrive even just 12 to 24 hours after you ovulate, it may be too late already.

Signs of ovulation to watch for

If you're trying to conceive, it's important to watch for ovulation signs. Most women ovulate about halfway through their menstrual cycle. That means if you have a 28-day cycle, you can expect to ovulate around day 14. But if your periods are irregular, it can be more challenging. You'll want to also be alert to the signs of ovulation. There are two main signs to watch for:

  • Changes in cervical mucus. Just before you ovulate, you'll notice that you produce more mucus that's thin and slippery (it's often likened to an egg-white consistency). Right after ovulation, it decreases and thickens. If you want to get pregnant, have intercourse at least every other day when you notice the thin and slippery cervical mucus.
  • An increase in your basal body temperature (BBT). Your BBT is your body's temperature at rest. It increases by half a degree to a degree during ovulation and remains there until your next period. Your most fertile days are the two to three days before this temperature increase. You can keep tabs on your BBT if you take your temperature every morning before you get up. While this temperature spike occurs too late to make a baby, you can use this information to time sex going forward.

This can be a lot to keep track of, so another, easier option is to use an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit. These are up to 99 percent effective in identifying when you're about to ovulate. They track your body's production of luteinizing hormone, which rises 24 to 48 hours before you ovulate. This gives you a couple of days to have sex before the egg release happens.

Is it possible to have too much sex if you're trying to conceive?

No, you can't have too much of a good thing. In fact, research even suggests that the more often a woman has sex, the more likely her immune system is to realize it's time to get pregnant. One 2015 study published in the journal Fertility & Sterility found that women who are very sexually active have greater changes in their helper T cells, which are cells that prevent your body from viewing sperm as an invader and attacking it. This theoretically make it easier for you to conceive.

The only downside to too much sex is if it stresses you out. That itself can affect your cycle. If having sex twice a day during ovulation is too much for you, then scale back.

Advertisement | page continues below

Other tips for trying to conceive

There's more to trying to get pregnant than just having sex. Other things you can do to help include:

  • Staying at a healthy weight. If you're overweight or underweight, it can impact your fertility.
  • Don't smoke or drink too much alcohol. Both can lead to decreased fertility.
  • Limit caffeine. Try to keep it to around 200 milligrams a day, or two eight-ounce cups of coffee.
  • Don't work out too much. Regular exercise is good for you, but strenuous exercise for more than five hours a week can make it harder to ovulate.
Follow your baby's amazing development

BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

Mayo Clinic. December 2021. How to Get Pregnant. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

ACOG. November 2020. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods of Family Planning. a new window [Accessed July 2022].

Cleveland Clinic. May 2021. When Should You Have Sex If You Are Trying To Get Pregnant. a new window [Accessed July 2022].

Cleveland Clinic. May 2021. Should You Use Ovulation Strips To Get Pregnant? a new window [Accessed July 2022]

PubMed ( Fertility & Sterility. December 2015. Sexual Activity Modulates Shifts In TH1/TH2 Cytokine Profile Across the Menstrual Cycle: An Observational Study. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

UptoDate. September 2021. Psychological Stress and Infertility. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Office on Women's Health. February 2021. Trying to Conceive. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Hallie Levine
Hallie Levine is an award-winning journalist who has covered health and wellness for more than 20 years. She lives with her three children in Fairfield, Connecticut.