Your period is over, and now you’re wondering how long it can take to conceive. While it’s unlikely that you can get pregnant right away, the exact number of days depends on the length of your cycle and when you have sex. Most women ovulate mid-way through the menstrual cycle. This means in a perfect, 28-day-cycle world, you would get pregnant roughly 14 days after the start of your period. That said, your body may differ from another woman’s, and your cycle sometimes varies. This makes predicting possible pregnancy days more complex than simply naming a number.
The first day of your menstrual cycle is day one of your period. Your hormone levels are dipping, and you aren’t ovulating. This means you’re not likely to get pregnant during your period. Your period probably ends between five and seven days later, although some women have different cycle lengths.
Following your period – between days seven and 14 of your cycle – a follicle begins to develop in your ovary. The egg bursts out when the follicle is mature. This typically happens somewhere around day 14. The egg travels for a few days after leaving the ovary. The ideal time to get pregnant is soon after the egg is released, while it travels down your fallopian tube toward your uterus.
Number of Period Days
The length of your period helps determine how soon after your period you can get pregnant. If you have a regular 28-day cycle and seven-day periods, you can get pregnant five or six days after your period ends. If your cycle or period is shorter, this changes. For example, if your period only lasts for four days, 10 days go by in between when menstruation ends and when you can conceive. A longer period means that the opposite is true, and you have a shorter time between its end and ovulation.
Number of Cycle Days
Having a 21 or 35 day cycle – or any number other than 28 – means you don’t necessarily ovulate on day 14. To calculate the best day to conceive, subtract 14 from your overall cycle days. If you have a 21-day cycle, you likely ovulate on day seven, for example. To help with the calculation, ovulation predictor kits detect hormones in your urine similar to the way pregnancy tests work, although the kits test for a different hormone.
Egg and Sperm Lifespan
Once released, your egg isn't viable for very long. You have from 12 to 24 hours after ovulation to get pregnant, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Your egg isn’t the only factor in getting pregnant. Your partner also needs to provide sperm to fertilize it. The length of time sperm can live varies. Some only live for a short while, and other may live up to seven days inside of you. On average, sperm remain viable for two or three days in your reproductive tract.
Other Possible Days
Looking at the egg release, its lifespan and how long sperm lives equals a window in which you can get pregnant. This may make it seem like you’ve gotten pregnant on a different day than you thought. For example, if you ovulate on day 14 and your period is seven days long, you should have sex seven days after your period ends to conceive. While this can be true, it’s not the only possibility. If you have sex five days after your period, it’s possible the sperm could live long enough to fertilize your egg on day seven. Likewise, if you have sex eight days after your period and your egg lives for one day, you can still get pregnant. For the best chance of getting pregnant, plan to have sex every other day for the week surrounding ovulation -- a few days before and after you think you should ovulate, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center website.