Wait, can you get pregnant when you’re not ovulating? It all depends on timing mama. We explore when conception is possible under the watchful eye of embryologist expert Navya Muralidhar.
Whether you’re TTC or trying not to, knowing when you’re most likely to ovulate is pretty important.
But what if you’re not ovulating, or can’t find out when it’s happening?
What’s the deal?
Can you get pregnant if you’re not ovulating?
If you’ve been googling this enthusiastically, you may find a resounding “no” from every direction.
But ask “can you get pregnant outside your fertile window,” and the answer becomes a little more complicated.
Let us explain.
In this article: 📝
- Can you get pregnant at any time?
- How do you know you’re ovulating?
- Can you still get pregnant when you’re not ovulating at all?
Can you get pregnant at any time?
The short answer? Not exactly. Like learning the steps of a dance, this is all about timing.
The interval in your monthly cycle when you are most able to get pregnant is called the fertile window.
Ovulation usually occurs about halfway through your cycle on approximately Day 14—but the length of your cycle and the exact day of ovulation can vary from woman to woman.
Your chances of getting pregnant are highest a few days before ovulation and on the day of.
During ovulation, your body releases a mature egg from one of your ovaries.
The egg journeys down the fallopian tube with the mission of getting fertilized.
It hangs out in this area for about 12 to 24 hours – and if there’s an awaiting sperm there ready to do the job, they might decide to join forces.
And that’s why timing is everything.
If the sperm arrives and there’s no egg, or vice versa, fertilization can’t take place.
This brings us to the core question:
Can you get pregnant when you’re not ovulating?
If you’re striking out on Google and left unsure, maybe a better question is “can you get pregnant outside your fertile window?”
Because this is where a strict “no” becomes more of a “well…”
Sperm can live for up to five days in your cervix, so if you have sex five days before ovulation, it’s still possible to get pregnant.
Add to that, the unpredictability of your fertile window, and getting pregnant when you’re not expecting to be ovulating seems more likely.
Put it another way, if you’re not TTC would you still feel confident about having unprotected sex?
How do you know you’re ovulating?
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re ovulating. Here are some methods that can help:
Take an ovulation test
Ovulation tests detect a rise in the luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine.
This hormone rises when your body is ready to release an egg or has released one.
Track your basal body temperature (BBT)
Your BBT is your temperature when you’re totally at rest.
Ovulation can cause your BBT to rise by 0.5-1 degree Fahrenheit.
If you track your temperature for a few months, you’ll have some indication of when ovulation usually happens for you.
Watch out for ovulating symptoms
Not everyone gets them, but it’s worth keeping an eye out. Here are some of the common ones:
- Change in your cervical mucus. It becomes clear and slippery to help those sperm swim through the cervix and uterus. You can tell by inserting a clean finger into your vagina. If the mucus is stretchy and/or wet you might be in your fertile window.
- Ovulation cramps. These ovulation cramps are also called Mittelschmerz and are usually on the side of the ovary releasing the egg. You might also experience light spotting.
- Breast tenderness. If things feel a little more sensitive than normal, that’s par for the ovulating course.
Can you still get pregnant when you’re not ovulating at all?
Okay, so what if the above methods are turning up nothing for you?
You might have a condition called anovulation, which is when your ovaries don’t release an egg.
There are a few different reasons this might happen.
And what might cause that imbalance?
A few different things:
The exact definition of menopause is twelve months after you have your last period. But before this happens, things can slow down a bit.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that can affect ovulation.
This may lead to irregular cycles or no ovulation during certain cycles.
Other symptoms of PCOS include irregular and/or heavy periods, hirsutism (excess facial or body hair growth), weight gain, and mood swings.
If you suspect that this might be the case for you, talk to your healthcare provider.
There are some hormonal treatments available. Well-managed lifestyle changes such as movement and diet can also have a positive effect on some symptoms.
Early ovarian decrease
You may have heard this described as premature ovarian failure – but we’re less than crazy about this term (For more terms that we think need a revamp, check out our Renaming Revolution).
It’s absolutely not any sort of failure.
Rather, it just means that you reach menopause symptoms early.
The good news is, if you’re TTC, it is still possible.
Depending on the cause, treatment options can include medication, dietary changes, or even IVF.
Talk to your doctor about your options and how they can help you along this journey.
In the meantime you can also check out our fertility expert-approve guide on how to get pregnant.
We even explore natural ways to boost your fertility.
The bottom line? TTC is hard. And trying not to conceive can be tricky, too!
Wherever you’re at, you don’t have to do it alone.
Reach out to your friends, and family, and keep in mind the Peanut community is filled with other women asking the same questions you are.
We’re having the conversation.