In theory, during the average woman’s menstrual cycle there are six days when sex can result in pregnancy. This conception risk period, also called ‘fertile window’ is the five days before egg release (ovulation), plus the day of egg release.1
You are at risk of conception if you have unprotected sex in the 5 days before ovulation because sperm can live for about 5 days, and can be waiting in the fallopian tubes, ready to fertilise your egg.2 An egg only lives for 24 hours.2
The highest risk of pregnancy is when ovulation happens shortly after unprotected sex
Sperm viability declines in the days after sex. This means that the risk of conception is highest when ovulation happens during the first three days following unprotected sex.3
When is this conception risk period?
You have no way of knowing when your fertile window is – and it can be at a different time every month.1
This means that you are at risk of pregnancy almost throughout the whole of your menstrual cycle.1
You might not ovulate on the same day of your cycle from one month to the other 1
Women with a regular cycle can be in their fertile window any time from day 6 to day 211
Women with an irregular cycle can be in their fertile window from day 8-281
Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries.1 A woman is born with all her eggs. Once you start your periods, one egg (occasionally two) develops and is released during each menstrual cycle.2
After ovulation, the egg lives for approximately 24 hours3
Once the egg is released from the ovary it travels down the fallopian tube towards the womb. Fertilisation happens if a man’s sperm meets and fuses with the egg.1 Sperm can survive in the fallopian tubes for up to five days after sex.3
If the egg is not fertilised, the egg is reabsorbed into the body. Hormone levels fall, and the womb lining comes away and leaves the body as a period.1,2
A woman cannot get pregnant if ovulation does not occur.
The menstrual cycle is the process where an egg develops each month and the lining of your womb is prepared for possible pregnancy.1
The menstrual cycle is driven by body chemicals called hormones. A cycle is counted from the first day of bleeding (your period) to the first day of your next period.2 The rise and fall of hormonal levels during this time control the menstrual cycle.
What’s happening in your womb
What’s happening to your hormones?
The menstrual cycle is controlled by a complex interaction of hormones.1 In each cycle, rising levels of hormones cause the ovary to develop an egg and release it (ovulation).2 The womb lining also starts to thicken.
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