One of the most frequently asked questions we get is how to target relationships and how many relationships to have in the fertile period.
Recall that a woman’s fertile period is one window about 6-7 days which includes the 4-5 days preceding ovulation, the day of ovulation and the day after. In fact, the oocyte remains fertilizable only 12-24 hours after ovulation and then degenerates. For this reason, intercourse that takes place within the day of ovulation is more fertile, and it is important that the oocyte already finds the spermatozoa waiting for it as soon as ovulation has occurred.
Why is a woman fertile even 4-5 days before ovulation?
It is one of the reasons why unwanted pregnancies occur. Many couples think they are only fertile on the day of ovulation. Another mistake is to think that you only ever ovulate on the fourteenth day. It is not so.
A lot of women don’t have perfect 28-day cycles with a 14-day luteal phase. Many women don’t ovulate on day 14. Normal ovulation can occur as early as day 10 until day 20 of the cycle. If you have irregular or very irregular cycles, ovulation can also occur later. In these cases, however, it is good to investigate the reason for the irregularity with the doctor.
The hormonal mechanisms that lead to ovulation are complex, before the peak of the LH hormone which then leads to ovulation, there is an increase in estrogen levels which not only act on the ovaries but also on the maturation of the endometrium and on the production of cervical mucus.
This mucus is very important to help spermatozoa on their journey to the fallopian tubes where conception will take place. Cervical mucus improves the motility (movement) of sperm and helps them survive. The spermatozoa in the presence of fertile mucus can survive up to 3-5 days in the woman’s body after intercourse, and for this reason a child can be conceived even with intercourse occurring up to 5 days before ovulation.
In a very interesting study published in The New England Journal of medicine, the probability of pregnancy was calculated based on the distance of intercourse from ovulation.
The likelihood of conceiving ranged from 0.10 when intercourse occurred five days before ovulation to 0.33 when it occurred on the day of ovulation. Almost all pregnancies in the study were attributed to sexual intercourse during a six-day period ending on the day of ovulation. Despite what was hypothesized by Shettles’ method, the study found no relationship between the sex of the unborn child and the timing of intercourse.
Those with extremely regular periods can use the calculator to get an idea of when they will be fertile to target intercourse for pregnancy. It is always recommended to verify that you actually ovulate in those days with other more reliable methods (observation of cervical mucus or other symptoms accompanying ovulation, use of ovulation tests, or monitoring of basal temperature).
This check is especially important if you have doubts as to whether ovulation has occurred or not.
We remember that CALCULATIONS SHOULD NEVER BE USED TO AVOID PREGNANCY. In fact, it can always happen that you ovulate before or after the expected period.
How many relationships in the fertile period?
If you use the calculations because you are very regular, or the ovulation tests with a double hormonal indicator (such as the Clearblue Viola or the Persona tests) which identify the entire fertile period by also recording the increase in estrogen and not just the LH surge, the recommendation is that of having intercourse every other day, every other day for the entire period considered fertile.
If you do not want to do calculations, check ovulation with tests or other, it is recommended to have about 3-4 intercourse a week interspersed to cover the fertile window.
However, it has been seen that the couple tends to have more relationships in the fertile period even if they are not aware of it. In a 2004 study it was found that the frequency of intercourse increases during the follicular phase, peaking at ovulation and decreasing sharply thereafter. The 6 consecutive days with more frequent intercourse corresponded to the 6 fertile days of the menstrual cycle. Sexual intercourse was 24% more frequent during the 6 fertile days than the remaining days without bleeding. Therefore, there are biological factors that promote intercourse during a woman’s 6 fertile days.
And after the fertile period or before? However, try to have relationships according to your needs and possibilities.
There is a theory that sperm can be useful for the developing embryo. This means that sex after ovulation, and therefore after conception, can help you become pregnant. In short, another good reason to have more sex.
Having a fertilized egg does not guarantee pregnancy. And this is very evident in assisted fertilization treatments where not all embryos transferred to the uterus result in a pregnancy and a baby in her arms. I wish it was like that!
A small but interesting study looked at the effect of sexual intercourse on pregnancy success after IVF. In this study, a group of couples had sexual intercourse around the time of the embryo transfer. The other group abstained from sex.
The initial pregnancy rates between the groups were not particularly different. However, the data changed between 6 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. Of the group that had intercourse during the embryo transfer period, 11.01% were still pregnant for 6 to 8 weeks. As for couples who had not had sexual intercourse during embryo transfer, only 7.69% were still pregnant for 6 to 8 weeks
The theory therefore suggests that sperm may contribute to the induction of immunological tolerance towards the embryo. Immunological tolerance is a natural occurrence in which the mother’s immune system does not oppose the presence of the unborn child. This tolerance is determined by a series of mechanisms of fetal, maternal and placental origin.
This is an area still to be explored but extremely fascinating.
Why intercourse every other day?
How often you should have intercourse depends primarily on your personal preferences as a couple and whether or not you have male infertility problems, such as sperm count problems.
The experts advise not to have intercourse more than once a day. It may seem that more sex equates to greater chances of pregnancy, but in reality, having sex too frequently can negatively alter semen parameters. In fact, daily ejaculations decrease the number of spermatozoa and the volume of seminal fluid. For this reason, the recommendation is to have intercourse every other day during the fertile period.
When to get medical checks
As soon as you decide to have a baby, the recommendation is to have a gynecological check-up and children preconceptional exams (free for the couple), and obviously start taking folic acid.
If you are sure you are targeting intercourse correctly but the pregnancy does not come, it is necessary to do more in-depth examinations after 12 months of failed attempts if the woman is under 36, or after only 6 months if the woman is over 35-36. years. This is because after the age of 36 female fertility begins to decline.
AJ Wilcox, Donna Day Baird, David B. Dunson, D. Robert McConnaughey, James S. Kesner, Clarice R. Weinberg, On the frequency of intercourse around ovulation: evidence for biological influences, Human Reproduction, Volume 19, Issue 7, July 2004, Pages 1539–1543, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/deh305
Wilcox AJ, Weinberg CR, Baird DD. Timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation. Effects on the probability of conception, survival of the pregnancy, and sex of the baby. N Engl J Med. 1995 Dec 7; 333 (23): 1517-21. doi: 10.1056 / NEJM199512073332301. PMID: 7477165.
Mayorga-Torres BJ, Camargo M, Agarwal A, Du Plessis SS, Cadavid ÁP, Cardona Maya WD. Influence of ejaculation frequency on seminal parameters. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2015; 13: 47. doi: 10.1186 / s12958-015-0045-9
Kelton P. Tremellen, Diana Valbuena, Jose Landeras, Agustin Ballesteros, Javier Martinez, Sergio Mendoza, Robert J. Norman, Sarah A. Robertson, Carlos Simón, The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction, Human Reproduction, Volume 15, Issue 12, December 2000, Pages 2653-2658, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/15.12.2653