How to get pregnant

For the best chance of getting pregnant, you need to get your fertile eggs and your partner's sperm together as often as possible.

For the best chance of getting pregnant, you need to get your eggs and your partner's sperm together as often as possible.

More than 8 out of 10 couples where the woman is aged under 40 will get pregnant within one year if they have regular unprotected sex. More than 9 out of 10 couples will get pregnant within two years.

Regular, unprotected sex means having sex every 2 to 3 days without using contraception.

You don't need to time having sex only around ovulation, though it is helpful to know when you are ovulating. Having vaginal sex every 2 to 3 days will give you the best chance of getting pregnant. Sperm can live for 2 to 3 days and this means there will always be fresh sperm in your system when you ovulate (release an egg).

Remember it’s important for you and your partner to try and keep sex enjoyable by concentrating on each other and your relationship, rather than worrying about conceiving. This will help you limit stress.

Are you ready to conceive? Use our tool to find out.

How does pregnancy start?

Your cycle starts on the first day of your period and continues up to the first day of your next period.

This is what happens during the cycle and the start of a pregnancy.

  • Eggs mature in your ovaries once a month.
  • The lining of your womb starts to get thicker to prepare for fertilised eggs.
  • Once the egg is mature it is released from one of the ovaries – this is called ovulation.
  • During ovulation your cervical mucus (this is the substance in your cervix, between the vagina and the womb) becomes thinner and clearer to help any sperm to swim to the egg.
  • If you have sex, millions of sperm will swim up the cervix into the uterus and the fallopian tubes to meet a mature egg.
  • If sperm is present at the point of ovulation, or during the next 24 hours, the egg may be fertilised (only one sperm has to join with the egg for this to happen).
  • If the egg is fertilised, it starts to move towards the womb and divide into more cells.
  • Once it reaches the womb the fertilised egg has to attach the lining of the womb, this is called implantation and is the start of pregnancy. Many fertilised eggs don’t implant and are passed out of the body.
  • If the egg has not been fertilised, the egg is re-absorbed by the body, the hormone levels drop, and the womb lining is shed – the beginning of your next period.

Now that you know all about how to get pregnant, use our tool to find out if you are ready to conceive.

Best time to have sex to get pregnant

To boost your chances of conceiving, aim to have regular sex (every 2 to 3 days) throughout your cycle so you know that there should hopefully be good-quality sperm waiting when the egg is released. An active sex life is all most people need to conceive.

If you know when you ovulate each month you can give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant by having sex in the days leading up to ovulation. Continue having sex during ovulation. After this your fertile time will be over for that cycle.

Use our ovulation calculator to find out more about ovulation.

Best position to have sex in to get pregnant

The position that you have sex in does not make a difference to conception so long as the man ejaculates sperm into the vagina. Once this happens the sperm can swim up through the cervix and into the womb and fallopian tubes to meet an egg if it is there.

Many people also say that if the woman raises her legs upwards after sex it helps the sperm get to the womb. There is no evidence to say that this is true. The route from the vagina to the womb is not a straight line, so you do not need to worry about all the sperm coming back out when you stand up.

When does ovulation happen?

Ovulation usually happens about 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, so it helps to know your cycle length before you start trying to get pregnant.

You may have not known when you ovulate within your cycle, and if you have been using a hormone contraceptive such as the Pill, you won’t have had a natural menstrual cycle for a while, because the Pill prevents ovulation (egg release) from happening.

As a first step, mark on your diary the dates that you bleed during a period. You can then count how many days from the first day of your period to your next period to work out the length of your cycle.

Use our ovulation calculator to find out more about ovulation.

The following signs can also help you know when you ovulate:

Cervical mucus changes

The cervix secretes mucus throughout the menstrual cycle, starting off sticky white and gradually becoming thinner and clearer.

Before and during ovulation the mucus increases and becomes much thinner, slippery and stretchy. Women often compare it to raw egg white.

This thinner mucus is designed to help the sperm swim easily through it.

The last day you notice the wetter secretions is sometimes known as ‘peak day’ and for most women this occurs very close to the time of ovulation.


You can also find out about your menstrual cycle by keeping a note of your temperature each morning when you wake up. Your temperature rises by about 0.2°C when ovulation has taken place.

As it only shows you when you have ovulated, and doesn’t tell you when your fertile time starts, this is not very useful for most women.

Using ovulation predictor kits (OPK)

Ovulation predictor kits are available from chemists and are fairly simple to use. They work by detecting a hormone in your urine that increases when ovulation is about to take place.

The simplest urine kit tests for luteinising hormone (LH), which increases 24-36 hours before ovulation. This will help to identify the best two days for conception, although a woman can be fertile for a day or so before and after this time.

It is best to become familiar with your usual menstrual cycle to help figure out when you should start testing. If you have an irregular cycle then an ovulation predictor kit can help you identify the time of ovulation but expect to use more of the test strips.

Find out how long it takes to get pregnant.


  1. Macdonald S, Macgill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ midwifery: a textbook for midwives, 14th edition, London Balliere Tindall
  2. NICE Guideline (2013) Fertility problems: assessment and treatment National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
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Your stories of planning for pregnancy

  • Couple Amanda and Judd with daughter Shelbie


    I just knew that there were no guarantees for us when trying to conceive

    Amanda, 26, had irregular periods and she knew getting pregnant would be a challenge. She and her husband decided to become healthier when they were planning to have a baby. They now have a daughter called Shelbie.

  • Hayley, Sam and baby Amaryllis


    “One chance for a baby”

    Hayley, 27, and Sam, 28, a barista from Lincolnshire knew their health conditions would make conception a challenge. But they didn’t give up. Following fertility treatment, they now have a daughter, Amaryllis. This is their story.

  • Claire Gale


    “I knew I was ready to try again”

    Claire Gale, 30, and husband Mark, 32, from Bournemouth always wanted a family. Last year and 8 weeks into her pregnancy, Claire miscarried, but she trusted her body to tell her when it was time to try again for a baby.

  • Lauren with her baby Cherry


    Our emotional pregnancy journey

    Lauren, 33, from Essex, and her husband Victor, 33, struggled to conceive and endured a miscarriage and pre-eclampsia before they had their beautiful daughter Cherry.

    Last reviewed on June 5th, 2018. Next review date June 5th, 2021.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Jul 2020 - 04:20

      Me and my partner are trying to conceive however my periods are irregular and I fail to understand my cycles. I used the ovulation calculator but still I don't get it. My previous menstruation date was 19/05/20. Around June I ddnt see my periods and the ovulation calculator had told me that am ovulating around 27/06/20 till 03/07/20, i had sex in those days but yesterday my periods came I don't know what's happening please help. Me and my partner are trying to have a baby and it's been 6months now trying what could be wrong?

    • By Ruthy (not verified) on 23 May 2020 - 15:47

      I had sex three days before my ovulation and on my ovulation day and i started having cramps few days later,fatique and sore boobs and body temperature and i haven't missed my period yet could i be pregnant

    • By Ruthy (not verified) on 23 May 2020 - 15:47

      I had sex three days before my ovulation and on my ovulation day and i started having cramps few days later,fatique and sore boobs and body temperature and i haven't missed my period yet could i be pregnant

    • By Rebecca (not verified) on 20 May 2020 - 10:31

      l have miss my period for three month.l have test it , it was negative so l want to the hospital for checkup .they told me am nt pregnant but still l have nt get my period

    • By Joy Uba (not verified) on 18 May 2020 - 20:38

      Am trying to get pregnant

    • By Titi Ade (not verified) on 19 Apr 2020 - 01:14

      my last month period (March) come on 11 bt In April it come 5. after the five days discharge i hav sex after 3 days of the period. Now am feeling dizzy and weak... can that be a pregnancy sytoms...

    • By Mardeisha k barnes (not verified) on 27 Jun 2020 - 21:18

      I haven't had my period this month. To don't know want that mean. It trying figure out I had miscarrieage. But still have my period can't someone tell me want that mean.just need help please help

    • By Sara (not verified) on 5 Jul 2020 - 17:36


    • By Stanley Alozie (not verified) on 10 Apr 2020 - 16:50

      Feeling hotness around the top of the stomach and also lower part of abdomen when am getting close to seeing another period. What is happening?

    • By Joy (not verified) on 23 Jan 2020 - 15:30

      I had an abortion 3years ago after have been having unprotected sex n m not getting pregnant till now
      Pls what can I do ??

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 21 Feb 2020 - 09:22

      I also have the same problem

    • By Blessing (not verified) on 23 Jan 2020 - 02:39

      I do menstruate but i find it difficult to ovulation and i really want to get pregnant.what should?

    • By leanne (not verified) on 11 Jan 2020 - 18:44

      hi there my name is leanne and me and husband have tried everything but we just can't get pregnant. Any advices? feel free to email me at leanne buchanan 37

    • By Jannice (not verified) on 9 Jan 2020 - 19:08

      It's hard to get pregnant

    • By Precious (not verified) on 3 Jan 2020 - 12:22

      Hi i have been trying to conceived since 2018 but it seem nothing it happening ansd since 2019 doctor ask me to go for scan which i did and the result show that there is fluids in pouch of Douglas and since then i have been treating it but nothing it happening

    • By Ruthugwuanyi (not verified) on 17 Jan 2020 - 23:52

      Look for the women that are massaging womb they will help you get rid of the fluid in your womb

    • By Sangita mishra (not verified) on 28 Dec 2019 - 11:04


    • By Margie miracle (not verified) on 26 Dec 2019 - 12:25

      I always have irregular periods,evenif when i timeup the ovulation day after my periods,its the very i start bleeding and i want a child,now what should i do?

    • By ikran (not verified) on 21 Dec 2019 - 17:29

      I have sex and until seen my period

    • By ikran (not verified) on 21 Dec 2019 - 05:28

      my problem is I have many sex and my period still coming

    • By Ruth (not verified) on 17 Dec 2019 - 06:47

      If my cycle is 33 days when did likely to ovulate in other to get pregnant

    • By Teopolina (not verified) on 12 Sep 2019 - 15:28

      My really period always it start on 23 septmber, and my question is. If I slpng with my boyfriend on tomrw until 15septmber I will make a pregnant or not answer me pls

    • By Abigial (not verified) on 7 Jul 2019 - 13:24

      my period start in every 17th of the month is it normal? Can i be able to conceive?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 25 Jun 2019 - 17:55

      Hi if a take folic acid now and not pregnant is this OK to do this

    • By Rainbow baby (not verified) on 2 May 2019 - 14:27

      Hi! I had my lmp dec 24 an my period normally last 5-7 days I had sex with guy #1 on the dec 28/29 basically day 5/6 of my period he pulled out then I had sex with guy #2 on Jan 6-12 my app say I ovulated jan 6 now I'm 18 weeks pregnant. Is it possible guy #2 is the father?

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 25 Dec 2019 - 09:02

      Whenever you ovulated the egg released so possibly yes

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Jan 2019 - 17:07


    • By Hunny (not verified) on 26 Apr 2018 - 08:55

      My LMP 3/11/18 I slept with my regular partner a lot before and after my LMP but I slept with a different person on 3/26/ 18 he pulled out . I’m 6weeks and 3 days as of 4/25/18. Who can be the father

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2018 - 09:41

      Hi - Thank you for your message.
      Your LMP is used to determine how many weeks pregnant you are (gestation) and when your estimated due date (EDD) is. Working on the premise you have a regular 28 day cycle - you would have conceived sometime around 17/03/2018 - this is an estimation based on that about 10 to 16 days before the start of your next period, an egg is released from one of the ovaries (ovulation).
      If sperm is present at the moment of ovulation, or some time during the next 24 hours, the egg may be fertilised.

    • By Jess (not verified) on 20 Apr 2018 - 16:01

      Hi there-

      I recently stopped taking my birth control pill. I finished the pack and didn’t continue the next. I had my period and when it ended I was sexual active multiple times, and didn’t use any form of protection. About two days after the unprotected sex, I started feeling weird. And about a week after the sex, I am experiencing cramps and fatigue. I was wondering if I could have ovulated right after my period and became pregnant ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 23 Apr 2018 - 13:52

      Hi Jess, Yes it is possible to ovulate in the first month after stopping the pill. I would suggest that you do a pregnancy test if you miss your next period.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Apr 2018 - 17:12

      My cycle is 31 days so when am I likely to ovulate?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Apr 2018 - 09:10

      Hi there.
      Try using our Ovulation calculator(see link below) to work out when you are likely to ovulate using the date of the first day of your last menstrual period and your cycle length- you can do this each month and track it more easily in this way.
      All the best
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Lucy K (not verified) on 10 Apr 2018 - 17:06

      My cycle length keeps changing. My last one was 31 days. When am I most likely to ovulate??

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Apr 2018 - 09:09

      Hi Lucy
      Try using our Ovulation calculator(see link below) to work out when you are likely to ovulate using the date of the first day of your last menstrual period and your cycle length- you can do this each month and track it more easily in this way.
      All the best
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Azhunny (not verified) on 7 Apr 2018 - 08:02

      My last menstruated period was around 9/18/17
      My bf and I had broke up
      I slept with a different guy after 10/11/17
      Found out I was pregnant 10/19/17
      Can I be confident it’s the first mans baby?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Apr 2018 - 15:52

      With these dates, it is not possible to be 100% sure who the father is. The only way to be certain is to do a DNA test.

    • By Kelsie (not verified) on 1 Jul 2019 - 01:31

      Hey so this was back in 2018 I see but I was just wondering was it the first guys baby? I have a similar situation.

    • By Andrea (not verified) on 2 Apr 2018 - 06:19

      Hi, how possibly can I avoid another conception coz I have 10months baby & my husband & I r always on sex? My menstrual cycle starts 22nd day of the month. Am still breastfeeding my baby, is it enough?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Apr 2018 - 14:14

      Thank you for your comment. There's lots of choices for contraception; you can talk to your GP or make an appointment for your local contraception clinic to discuss what would be best for you.
      You can still get pregnant even though you are breastfeeding-as you are already having regular periods, breastfeeding is probably not stopping you ovulating so you would need another method of contraception.
      I have attached a link that you may find helpful-

      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Mar 2018 - 21:09

      I'm 36 years and trying to have a baby but i'm worried because my age and I've irregular periods.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Mar 2018 - 14:56

      Very pleased that you have seen our website. We hope that you are able to use our advice about conception and top tips for pregnancy.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Oct 2017 - 14:54

      Me and my husband have been tring to have a baby for thr past 6 months now the problem is we actually dont really have sex very often well we do but im sure not so much like peolle trying to have a baby as we both work full time... this month we had sex on our ovulation day which was the 14th day starting from my period.. some peolle have said when you start ovulation tha 8 days after is very important so you should try and have sex within that 7 days as well.. i would like some tips thank you

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Oct 2017 - 14:01

      Hi, Firstly try not to worry. It can take many months before you get pregnant and this is quite normal. Have a look at our page 'Top tips to get pregnant'.
      Good luck

    • By Rabiya (not verified) on 14 Sep 2017 - 21:57

      Can I do gym while trying for baby ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Sep 2017 - 10:20

      Being in good shape can help you conceive. The body works more efficiently when you are fit and having a toned body usually makes you feel more confident about yourself.
      Pregnancy can put a lot of strain on the body and is tiring. If you have the correct balance of muscular strength and flexibility, you can cope more easily with its demands.

      The government recommends that everyone does 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.
      If you haven’t done much regular exercise before start with 15 minutes of continuous exercise three times a week.
      Then you can increase that bit by bit to 30-minute sessions four times a week and then to daily exercise. The exercise should be enough to increase your heart and breathing rates, but you should still be able to have a conversation.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Jul 2017 - 15:06

      Can I go swimming and that when trying to get pregnant

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Jul 2017 - 15:03

      Yes, there is no reason not to swim when you are trying to conceive. In fact a good exercise regime for you and your partner can help you conceive and to be in the best health for your pregnancy. Good luck

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