How Soon After Sex Do You Actually Get Pregnant?

We all know that sex leads to pregnancy but how soon after sex do you actually conceive? Conception may occur anywhere from three minutes to five days after sex. Implantation starts five to 10 days after fertilisation, which is around five to 15 days after sexual intercourse.

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You might start noticing some pregnancy symptoms as early as a week after sex, or it might take several weeks to start. But sometimes most women hardly spot early signs of pregnancy. So, you may get pregnant within minutes after sex, but it’s also possible to have intercourse on Thursday and not conceive until Monday!

Could speed up the fertilisation process by lying down after sex? It seems like a good idea. Since sperm swims through the reproductive, perhaps their journey would be less stressful if they just swim horizontally and not upwards. However, things aren’t as simple as that.

How Soon After Sex do you conceive?

You might think that fertilisation takes place as soon as the sperm reaches the egg. However, how fast a sperm swims doesn’t give a detailed answer to this question.

Research indicates that it takes the sperm about two to 10 minutes to travel to the fallopian tube from the cervix (where they hope to fertilise an egg.) This has nothing to do with gravity. Regardless of what position you’re in, they will swim “up” through the uterus, and if there is an egg waiting, fertilisation will take place as quickly as three minutes after you had sex.

That said, sperm can stay for up to five days inside the female reproductive system. This implies that the day you conceive might not be the same day you had sex. If you had sex on Sunday, and you ovulate on Friday, conception may take place days after you had sexual intercourse.

Sometimes, a specialist will estimate the day of fertilisation depending on how many weeks the fetus measures in an ultrasound, and most often than not, this conception date wouldn’t match any of the days that the couple had sex. This possible delay between intercourse and conception explains how that can happen.

While you’re more likely conceive if you have sex two to three days before ovulation, you can get pregnant from sex that took place six days before the release of an egg from the ovary.

How Long After Sex Does It Take for Implantation to Occur?

Conception is when an egg is fertilised by a sperm cell. Implantation is when the fertilised egg (which is usually called a blastocyst) attaches itself to the uterine walls. Technically, you’re not pregnant until this happens. Implantation doesn’t occur immediately after fertilisation.

A lot of people think that fertilisation takes place in the uterus. This is totally untrue. Conception actually occurs in the fallopian tube; this is where an egg is fertilised by a sperm cell. After conception, the fertilised egg needs to undergo a series of development stages before it can implant itself into the uterine wall. It also has to travel from inside the fallopian tubes down into the uterus. This takes a couple of days.

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Usually, implantation takes place anywhere between five and ten days after conception. But as you read above, an egg can be fertilised as soon as a few minutes after sex or as long as five days after. This means that implantation can take place as early as five days after sexual intercourse or as late as 15 days after you’ve had sex.

How Soon After Sex will you start noticing Pregnancy Symptoms?

Whether conception takes place within minutes of sex or some days after, will you be able to feel you’ve conceived it happens? Unfortunately, no.

Some women claim to know they’re pregnant within minutes of intercourse. But in fact, it’s scientifically impossible. Any signs of potential pregnancy won’t appear until embryo implantation (at the very, very earliest), and that will take around seven to 10 days to happen. It takes time for the fertilised egg to travel to the uterus from the fallopian tube and locate a comfortable spot in the uterine wall.

It is also highly unlikely to experience pregnancy symptoms at the time of implantation. While most women don’t start to notice pregnancy signs until a few days past their expected period, some women don’t even notice any symptoms at all.

The earliest time to start noticing pregnancy signs would be around seven days. But usually, pregnancy symptoms become visible between two to four weeks after conception.

Will you conceive faster when you lie down on your back after sex?

Majority of women have received advice to lie still for a while after sex, in hopes it’ll make it easier to conceive. But there have been no scientific proofs to back up these claims. However, there has been some research on intrauterine insemination (IUI) treatment (also known as artificial insemination or AI) that shows that lying horizontally might be helpful.

The AI procedure involves transferring specially washed sperm directly into the woman’s uterus through the cervix, using a thin catheter. In one study, researchers had tried to know how effective IUI treatment would be if the woman remained in a horizontal position for 15 minutes after the procedure.

Researchers discovered that the women who remained horizontal for 15 minutes after the procedure had a 27 percent pregnancy rate after three cycles. The women who were urged to get up right after the sperm transfer had an 18 percent pregnancy rate after three cycles. Remaining on their back did improve pregnancy rates. Whether that would work as well for sexual intercourse, no one really knows.

For How Long Should You Lie Down On Your Back?

If you’ll be lying on your back, how long should you retain the position for maximum benefits? Again, no research has been done on sexual intercourse to answer this question. However, we have another research on AI that may give us a clue.

In this particular study, 396 couples having IUI treatment for cervical issues, male factor infertility or unexplained infertility were randomly allocated to a post-IUI “rest” group. Women were either asked to remain on their backs for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 20 minutes after insemination.

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The clinical pregnancy rates in this particular study were significantly different between the 5 and 10-minute category.

Clinical pregnancy rates per cycle:

  • 4.5 percent for those who remained on their backs for 5 minutes
  • 15.9 percent for those who stayed on their backs for 10 minutes
  • 19.7 percent for those who remained on their backs for 20 minutes

The difference between the 10 and 20-minute category was not regarded as statistically significant. So, the researchers suggest women remain lying down for at least 10 minutes post-insemination.

All this said if you need to go to the bathroom immediately after sex (especially if you’re prone to frequent urinary tract infections), get up and go ahead. You won’t be ruining your chances of getting pregnant.

[Note: The result of both studies referenced above should not be compared. The first study looked at the cumulative pregnancy rate after three treatment cycles, while this second study is looking at the pregnancy rate per cycle.]

Bottom line

You may get pregnant within minutes after you’ve had sex, but, most times, hours or days will pass between the day the egg was fertilized and the day you did the “horizontal baby dance”. You might wonder if lying down during or after sex can help you speed up chances of conception, but it probably doesn’t matter what position you’re in.

Sperm cells will swim straight to your ovaries whether you’re lying down or standing on one toe! Keep in mind that a pregnancy test can’t detect the moment you got pregnant or even your implantation day.

There needs to be sufficient pregnancy hormone in the body before the test can come up positive. This takes time. So it’s best to wait until your period delays for a day or two before peeing on a stick. Otherwise, you may get a false negative result even if you’ve conceived.

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