WE know that sex can lead to pregnancy – but people often wonder how soon after intercourse you can really get pregnant.
Once you learn the science and timing, it all makes a bit more sense – here’s everything you need to know.
How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
Fertility experts tell us that the egg and sperm can meet within minutes after ejaculation.
But it’s not that straightforward for everyone as conception can also take as long as five days.
To see those two lines on a pregnancy test – fertilisation and implantation will need to happen.
Fertilisation can only occur if a viable egg and sperm meet – and the time it takes depends on whether the person has ovulated yet and how quickly the sperm reach the egg.
Pregnancy after sex may take place up to 1 week before ovulation
Sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for around five days – so pregnancy after sex may take place up to one week before ovulation.
Once the egg has been fertilised, implantation needs to take place, where the egg, now an embryo, plants itself in the lining of the uterus.
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Find out if you have sex while pregnant
The body now begins producing more of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).
This typically happens 6–12 days after ovulation – which means that most people cannot have a positive pregnancy test result until at least 10 days after.
Speak to your GP if you have been trying for a year to conceive.
When do symptoms of pregnancy start?
Could you be pregnant?
The proof is in the pregnancy test – but before taking the test you may get a heads-up in the form of some early pregnancy symptoms.
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According to the NHS website if you have a regular monthly menstrual cycle – the earliest sign of pregnancy is a missed period.
In the first few weeks of pregnancy you may have a bleed similar to a very light period, with some spotting or only losing a little blood.
This is what is known as implantation bleeding – and is different to a period.
It’s important to remember that every pregnancy is different and not everyone will notice symptoms immediately.
Very early pregnancy symptoms, like sensitivity to smell and tender breasts, may show up before you miss your period, as soon as a few days after conception.
While other early signs of pregnancy, like spotting, might appear around one week after the sperm meets the egg.
Others , like urinary frequency, often appear a few weeks or so following conception.
That said, early pregnancy symptoms happen at different times in different people.
Here are some of the earliest pregnancy symptoms to look out for according to the NHS:
- Swollen or painful nipples or breasts
- Food cravings
- Changes in mood or emotion
- More frequent urination
- Aversions to certain foods
- Raised basal body temperature
- Smell sensitivity
- Implantation bleeding
- Changes in cervical mucus
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Excessive saliva
How likely is it to get pregnant after sex?
It all depends on ovulation – if you thought sex needs to come after ovulation — you’re not alone.
Many people don’t realise that the best time to have sex to get pregnant is before ovulation – not after.
The likelihood of getting pregnant after sex, once you have ovulated is small – one day past ovulation, your odds are between 0 per cent and 11 per cent.
If you have sex one day before ovulation your chances of getting pregnant are at their highest – and are around 21 per cent to 35 per cent.
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Your chances are also relatively high on the day of ovulation – at around 10 per cent to 33 per cent.
These numbers assume that you have sex just once during your fertile window, but if you have sex before you ovulate and the day after, your odds will be significantly better than if you have sex only after you ovulated.