What’s the Biggest Conception Mistake People Make?

I’m trying to conceive, and I want to get this right! So what does everyone else do wrong that I should totally avoid?
ByThe Bump Editors
May 2017
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Sorry, but there are no firm statistics on what mistake couples make the most, but we’ve got a solid list of what must be the top 10. Of those, we’re willing to bet that mistiming sex is most common. And why are people mistiming it? Well, mostly because knowing when you’re  ovulating is less than straightforward.

The way most people are taught about ovulation is simple: There are 28 days in a woman’s cycle, and she ovulates on or around day 14. So if she and her partner have sex every other day for the five or six days before she ovulates — and one of the sperm reaches its destination — she should be able to conceive. The problem with the simple explanation is that it’s not that likely to pertain to you. Ovulation doesn’t always fall neatly on the calendar on the same day every month, and even if your cycles are regular, they might not be exactly 28 days. That’s when it gets more complicated.

Instead of counting 14 days from your last menstrual period, you really want to be pinpointing ovulation, and then highlighting those few days right before it to hit the sheets with your partner (because sperm can live for a few days inside the body). There are a few popular methods women use to do this:

Ovulation calculator
If you’ve got regular periods, you can use this easy tool to identify the next time you’ll likely be ovulating.

Use your menstrual cycle, combined with your body’s signs, such as cervical mucus and basal body temperature, to identify when it’s ripe time for babymaking.

** Ovulation predictor kit
**These home kits and monitors test for luteinizing hormone (LH). LH levels surge when you’re most fertile.

Of course, there’s no better way to test if you’re fertile than to have sex, so if you’re unsure, it certainly doesn’t hurt to do it! Getting the timing right might take a little while, but it can be really fun to practice. And remember, one of the other biggest conception mistakes is waiting too long to talk to a fertility specialist, so if you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year if you’re under 35 or more than six months if you’re 35 or older, make an appointment right away.

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to Get Pregnant With an Irregular Period

Samuel Wood, MD
Reproductive Endocrinologist

Fertility 101

Kelly Alfieri

Sign You’re Ovulating: Sex Fantasies!

Sarah Yang

Cervical Mucus?

Paula Kashtan

How Long Are Eggs Viable?

Jackie Gutmann, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia
Fertility Specialist

When Sperm Meets Egg, Sparks Fly

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

What Is Anovulation?

Kaylen M. Silverberg, MD, clinical assistant professor, department of obstetrics and gynecology, division of reproductive endocrinology/infertility, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and reproductive endocrinologist with Texas Fertility Center in Austin, Texas

What Is Puregon?

Mark P. Leondires, MD, medical director and lead infertility doctor with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut
Fertility Specialist