Best time to conceive

You want to get pregnant, so the next question is - when is the best time to conceive? To answer this, you need to know the pattern of your menstrual cycle, which is calculated from the first day of your period to the day before the start of your next period.

If who haven't had to think much about this since school biology, a quick reminder:

  • Day one of your cycle is the first day of your period
  • The time from your period to ovulation is known as the follicular phase
  • During the follicular phase your body releases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and this causes one of your ovarian follicles to become dominant and release an egg into a fallopian tube
  • Meanwhile, the hormone oestrogen starts to thicken your womb lining in preparation for a fertilised egg
  • The mucus in your cervix gets thinner, wetter and more stretchy (this is to allow sperm to reach an egg more easily)
  • Ovulation, when the egg is released from an ovary, is triggered by luteinising hormone (LH) around 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period (the amount of time from the first day of your period to ovulation varies between different women)
  • If more than one egg is released it will happen within 24 hours of the first egg being released, and if more than one egg is fertilised it can lead to a multiple pregnancy
  • The time from ovulation to the end of your cycle is known as the luteal phase
  • Ovulation triggers your body to produce another hormone, progesterone and this one ensures your womb lining is ready for a fertilised egg to implant  
  • After ovulation, your cervical mucus reverts to being thicker and stickier
  • If the egg isn't fertilised, your hormone levels fall and this menstrual cycle ends
  • Then the whole thing starts again - the womb lining breaks down and you have your next period

The average menstrual cycle is around 28 days, but both longer and shorter cycles are common and normal.

What Mumsnetters say about the best time to conceive

  • It still amazes me that I managed to get to 35 without even knowing the basics. The first time we started trying to conceive I started noticing all these PMT symptoms that I had never taken any notice of. Four years later and a whole lot wiser, it still amazes me how ignorant I was about my cycle before I had to pay attention. Ignorance is (was) bliss. sootykalucy
  • One of our consultant gynaecologists says that although you may ovulate on average 14 days before your period, that's just it - it is an average and it might be on day six one month, day 20 another. JohnnyTwoHats


Last updated: 4 months ago