What Does DPO Stand For & What Does It Mean in Fertility?

What Does DPO Stand For & What Does It Mean in Fertility?

If you’re trying to conceive, knowing how to calculate your DPO timeline can help. But what is the DPO meaning? Let’s find out.
We get it, when you’re TTC (that’s trying to conceive), it can feel like you’re in a world of acronyms.

So let’s break them down, one by one, with a little help from embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, starting with the DPO meaning.

Just what does DPO stand for?

In this article: 📝

  • What is DPO in pregnancy?
  • How many DPO is your period?
  • What DPO does implantation occur?
  • How many DPO do pregnancy symptoms start?
  • What are DPO symptoms day by day?
  • How many DPO can you take a pregnancy test?

What is DPO in pregnancy?

Okay, so what does DPO mean in fertility and pregnancy?

DPO stands for days past ovulation or days post-ovulation.

So it’s how many days after you have ovulated.

Ovulation happens when one of your ovaries releases an egg into your fallopian tube.

If a healthy, motile sperm is swimming toward that egg at the right time, conception might take place.

So, if you’re looking to score a BFP (Big Fat Positive) ‒ or a BFN (Big Fat Negative) ‒ on a pregnancy test, you’ll want to pay attention to DPO.

(BTW, if all these acronyms are feeling a bit OTT, here’s a crash course.)

How do I calculate my DPO?

So how do you count days past ovulation?

First off, it helps to know when you’re ovulating.

There are ovulation predictor kits (another acronym to add to the pile, OPK) that can help, and they can be pretty accurate, although, for more accuracy, it can help to take them for a few months to see what your cycle is like.

After all, every cycle is different ‒ some can be longer while others could be as short as 21 days.

Period-tracking apps can also help with this ‒ although you’ll want to make sure your data is safely stored, just in case.

Day 1 is the day after you ovulate.

So, if you ovulate on Friday, Saturday is 1 DPO, Sunday is 2 DPO, Monday is 3 DPO, Tuesday is 4 DPO, etc.

To understand how the DPO timeline fits into the grand scheme of things, here’s a quick recap of how your cycle works (understanding, of course, that everyone’s different):

  • Days 1 - 5: Day 1 is the first day of your period. If the egg that was released the last time you ovulated is not fertilized, it will leave your body, along with the uterine lining that was prepared for it. You might bleed for three days, you might bleed for eight. Five is the average.
  • Days 6 - 14: After your period, the lining of your uterus thickens again to prep for pregnancy.
  • Days 14 - 25: On about Day 14, ovulation happens and, the day after that, the DPO count begins. If fertilization takes place, the newly formed zygote develops to an embryo and journeys to the wall of the uterus with the aim of implanting itself there. It’s hard for us to tell for sure when ovulation and conception happen, which is why we count pregnancy from Day 1 of the LMP (Last Menstrual Period) rather than try to guess when conception occurred.
  • Days 25 - 28: If fertilization doesn’t take place, your body will prepare to shed the uterine lining, along with the egg that was released during ovulation.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there’s a different between cycle days (CD, which are listed above), and DPO (days past ovulation).

Every day in your cycle is a cycle day, but only the days after ovulation are DPOs.

So CD 15 could be 1 DPO if you ovulate on cycle day 14.

Then everything resets on the first day of your next period, back to cycle day one.

The whole process is managed by hormones, with the key players being estrogen, progesterone, LH (the luteinizing hormone), and FSH (the follicle-stimulating hormone).

How many DPO is your period?

So how many days after ovulation do you get your period?

Well, it varies from cycle to cycle, but very generally speaking, for an average 28-day cycle, 14 DPO is typically when you can expect your period to start.

For shorter cycles, it could be closer to 10 DPO, and for longer cycles, 16 DPO isn’t unusual.

The best way to tell when your period is going to start is to track it for a few months and keep an eye on your symptoms.

But this isn’t an exact science ‒ things like travel, illness, medication, and stress can all impact when your period starts, making it arrive sooner or later than expected.

What DPO does implantation occur?

If you’re trying to conceive, you can improve your chances of conceiving by having sex in your fertile window ‒ around the time you’re ovulating.

So 1 DPO could be a day or two after you’ve done the deed ‒ and if you’ve conceived, you could have a teeny zygote looking to implant.

So how many DPO does implantation occur?

Usually, it’s between about 6 DPO and 12 DPO, but it can be as early as 4 DPO or as late as 14 DPO.

How many DPO do pregnancy symptoms start?

This is where things can get a bit tricky.

Why? Because DPO symptoms after ovulation can be pretty similar (sometimes the same) as pregnancy symptoms, implantation symptoms, ovulation symptoms, and even PMS.

And sometimes, it can be psychosomatic ‒ especially if you’re symptom-spotting ‒ every twinge, headache, or other weird feeling could be a pregnancy symptom, but it also might not.

But according to our moms-to-be of Peanut, the average to experience pregnancy symptoms is around 5 DPO or much, much later.

(The vagueness is annoying, we know ‒ bodies are all so different ‒ but it certainly keeps the story interesting.)

Some of the early signs of pregnancy (before you miss your period) include:

  • Tender breasts: Getting ready to start producing breast milk for baby.
  • Fatigue: It might not look like it, but there’s a lot going on inside your body right now, so some fatigue is expected.
  • Bloating: Or any other digestive complaint, really ‒ gassiness, diarrhea, constipation… there’s a lot of change in your body, and your stomach could be taking the brunt of it.
  • A whole lot of peeing: One of the earliest, most common pregnancy symptoms, according to our moms-to-be of Peanut. But stay hydrated and be sure to keep track of where the nearest bathroom is!
  • Elevated BBT: Your basal body temperature may be slightly increased for more than 18 days after conception.
  • Nausea and (possibly) vomiting: We all know that morning sickness can strike at any time during pregnancy, so we prefer the term “pregnancy nausea”.
  • Creamy, white vaginal discharge: An increase in discharge (also called leukorrhea) is another way your body’s making things as safe as possible for baby ‒ no infections, please!
  • Cramps: Feeling cramps at any DPO can be disconcerting, but it could be implantation cramps or standard pregnancy cramps ‒ after all, your body has to make space for baby somehow! But if your cramps are severe or accompanied by heavy bleeding or clots, check in with your doctor, just in case.

But if you’re not feeling any of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean that you’re not pregnant.

Some people just don’t have any pregnancy symptoms and go on to have a happy, healthy pregnancy.

What DPO do breasts hurt?

Tender breasts are a common symptom of pregnancy, anywhere from 5 to 22 DPO.

There’s no specific DPO that your breasts are likely to hurt if you are pregnant, but many of our Peanut moms-to-be say that they get sore boobs at about 7 DPO, on average.

What are DPO symptoms day by day?

There’s no definite timeline for DPO symptoms, but here’s a snapshot of what you could expect:

  • 1 DPO: Thicker cervical mucus, bloating, and fatigue. It’s still very early days!
  • 2 DPO: Increase in discharge, tiredness, bloating, and gassiness.
  • 3 DPO: Fatigue, acid reflux, increase in discharge, and bloating.
  • 4 DPO: Sore breasts, tiredness, bloating, gassiness, and reflux.
  • 5 DPO: Frequent urination, breast tenderness, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
  • 6 DPO: Implantation cramps, implantation bleeding, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and frequent peeing.
  • 7 DPO: Implantation cramps, implantation bleeding, headaches, breast tenderness, fatigue, heightened sense of smell, constipation, gas, and mood swings.
  • 8 DPO: Cramping, light spotting, tender breasts, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, constipation, headaches, and nausea.
  • 9 DPO: Spotting, cramps, acid reflux, cravings, heightened sense of smell, nausea, tender breasts, mood swings, and increase in discharge.
  • 10 DPO: Implantation bleeding, cramps, tender breasts, headaches, exhaustion, nausea, frequent peeing, gassiness, and constipation.
  • 11 DPO: Cramping, spotting, darker nipples, sore breasts, fatigue, peeing more often, weird cravings, gas, bloating, constipation, headaches, and thick or watery discharge.
  • 12 DPO: Implantation bleeding, cramps, frequent urination, sensitive breasts, tiredness, dizziness, headaches, nausea, heightened smell, constipation, and gas.
  • 13 DPO: Cramps, light bleeding, exhaustion, sensitive nipples, food cravings and aversions.
  • 14 DPO: Spotting, cramps, sticky vaginal discharge, mood changes, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, frequent urination, tender breasts, food cravings, and aversions.
  • 15 DPO: Fatigue, sore boobs, sensitive sense of smell, frequent peeing, cravings, aversions, nausea, dizziness, cramps, metallic tastes in your mouth, and back ache.
  • 16 DPO: Low energy levels, heightened sense of smell, sensitive breasts, darker nipples, mood swings, bloating, cramping, and nausea.
  • 17 DPO: Headaches, mood swings, cramps, cravings, and aversions.
  • 18 DPO: Fatigue, bloating, constipation, gas, tender breasts, heightened sense of smell, headaches, back pains.
  • 19 DPO: Nausea, bloating, gas, constipation, food aversions, and fatigue.
  • 20 DPO: Sensitive breasts, tender and darker nipples, heightened sense of smell, food aversions and cravings.
  • 21 DPO: Frequent peeing, nausea, vomiting, food cravings and aversions.
  • 22 DPO: Dizziness, metallic taste in your mouth, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and bloating.

How many DPO can you take a pregnancy test?

So what DPO can you take a pregnancy test?

There’s no hard and fast rule here, but as a rough guide, it’s best to wait until you’re about 14 DPO to get a reliable result.

This is roughly when or after your next expected period.

Pregnancy tests work by checking for a hormone called hCG.

HCG is known as “the pregnancy hormone” because it generally rises to detectable amounts only when a woman is pregnant.

If you take a pregnancy test too soon after conception (like 4 DPO), hCG production might not be in full swing yet and not detectable, leading to a false negative.

On the flip side, testing too early might also detect a chemical pregnancy, which is when the egg is fertilized but doesn’t implant in the uterus, leading to a very early pregnancy loss.

This is very common, and it can be upsetting to get a positive pregnancy test only to get your period a few days later.

So, best to wait. But that’s easier said than done.

If you’re TTC, that 14-day two-week wait, (aka TWW, aka the time between ovulation and your next expected period) can feel long.

What day DPO do you test positive?

Again, there’s no definite answer here, but many of our Peanut moms-to-be got their first positive pregnancy test result between 10 and 12 DPO.

But if you can wait, the most accurate time to take your test is the day after your next expected period ‒ usually about 14 DPO for those with a 28-day cycle.

So if you get a positive at 9 or 10 DPO, you can see from your DPO pregnancy test progression that the line will steadily get darker, day after day.

Anything over 25 mIU/ml will usually show as a positive pregnancy test result.

But sometimes, pregnancy tests lines can get darker until about 22-24 DPO, then they start to look lighter ‒ this is because of a phenomenon known as the Hook Effect, where the levels get so high that they look like they’re going down on a test.

There are studies to find the average hCG levels by DPO, but they should be taken with a pinch of salt ‒ many moms-to-be have higher or lower hCG levels at different DPOs, but go on to have healthy pregnancies:

  • 14 DPO: Between 17-119 mIU/ml
  • 15 DPO: Between 17-147 mIU/ml
  • 16 DPO: Between 33-223 mIU/ml
  • 17 DPO: Between 17-429 mIU/ml
  • 18 DPO: Between 70-758 mIU/ml
  • 19 DPO: Between 111-514 mIU/ml
  • 20 DPO: Between 135-1,690 mIU/ml
  • 21 DPO: Between 324-4,130 mIU/ml
  • 22 DPO: Between 185-3,279 mIU/ml
  • 23 DPO: Between 506-4,660 mIU/ml
  • 24 DPO: Between 540-10,000 mIU/ml

How many DPO did you get a positive pregnancy test?

So we know there’s no exact DPO to expect a positive pregnancy test, but so you know roughly when to test, we asked our Peanut moms-to-be when they got their first BFP:

  • “I received first ever BFP on 8 DPO. The second pregnancy it wasn’t until 11 DPO.” ‒ Hannah
  • “I have a very faint positive at 8 DPO.” ‒ Julia
  • “11 DPO, I can see a very, very faint line!” ‒ Queen
  • “12 DPO, got my positive, been trying for a year with PCOS.” ‒ Sharon
  • “10 DPO, got my faint positive (I think). Update: retested at 12 DPO with a digital, definitely pregnant!” ‒ Jennifer
  • “11 DPO, pretty sure I have a faint positive.” ‒ Noor
  • “I waited till 14 DPO, and got a positive when I had a negative at 8 DPO.” ‒ Valerie
  • “I got mine the morning of 10 DPO and had all positives that entire day. Midday 9 DPO, I got what I considered a negative but after looking again when receiving my positives it was definitely a faint.” ‒ Lani
  • “Got mine at 10 DPO.” ‒ Alex
  • “12 DPO for me!” ‒ Sefora
  • “10 DPO it was faint, 11 DPO I could tell for sure I was never patient enough to wait!” ‒ Bridget
  • “Got my positive at 12 DPO.” ‒ Victoria
  • “I got a faint positive on 10 DPO.” ‒ Beth
  • “I was 8 DPO for my positive.” ‒ Lynn
  • “I was a BFP on a FRER at 9 DPO and then 10 DPO with a darker line on FRER and a pregnant 1-2 weeks on a clear blue digital!” ‒ Charlotte
  • “I got faints at 8, 9, 10 and it was much stronger at 11 DPO.” ‒ Elizabeth
  • “I got faint at 9 with First Response. Then a little darker 10 DPO morning. Did a digital at 10dpo and clear blue in the afternoon and was clear positive.” ‒ Sophie
  • “9 DPO very faint positive.” ‒ Christin
  • “9 DPO ‒ was a lot clearer on FRER than freedom test.” ‒ Bridie
  • “7 DPO for me ‒ I know, very early!” ‒ Samantha
  • “19 DPO, it was the first time I tested.” ‒ Naomi
  • “10 DPO and clearer every day after.” ‒ Roberta
  • “9 DPO! I was very surprised. I had no symptoms at all.” ‒ Courtney
  • “Got the faintest shadow of a line on 9DPO! Much clearer on a FRER at 10 DPO and the digital was positive at 10 DPO too!” ‒ Shannon

So that’s the wonderful world of DPO while TTC!

If you need support through this journey, we’ve got you ‒ you’re always welcome to join our Peanut TTC community.

You don’t have to struggle through on your own.

Wherever you’re at, we wish you the best of luck.

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