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How to Get Pregnant / Pregnancy / Smartmum

When Is the Best Time to Get Pregnant — and Can I Influence the Gender?

When Is the Best Time to Get Pregnant — and Can I Influence the Gender?

When Is the Best Time to Get Pregnant — and Can I Influence the Gender?

After you and your partner have made the decision to become parents it’s natural to ask when is your fertile period. Having sex at the right time is important to increase the chances of conception, and may even influence the gender of your baby.

The Fertile Window

This is a 6-day period that ends with ovulation. When your body releases an egg, that is the best time to have sex to increase your chances of getting pregnant. This is related to how long an egg and sperm cells can survive inside the female body. A sperm cell that enters your body can wait around for 2 to 3 days, while the egg can only survive for a day. To give the sperm and the egg the highest chance of successful fertilisation, the earliest you should have sex is about 2 to 3 days before ovulation. And the latest? A day after ovulation.

How to Figure Out Your Ovulation Date

The first thing for you to know is your ovulation date. This usually falls in the middle of your menstrual cycle, but the menstrual cycle itself can vary from woman to woman — between 22 and 36 days. If you count the first day of your last period as Day 1, then ovulation should happen between Day 14 or 15, assuming an average 28-day cycle.

For a more accurate assessment, you could also use a conception calculator. These calculators generally ask you to enter the first day of your last period and the length of your menstrual cycle to produce a date range that shows your fertile window and the corresponding due date if you decide to have sex within that period.

Does the Timing of Sex Affect the Gender?

Although as parents, every baby is precious regardless of gender, sometimes it makes sense if you can choose to conceive a boy or a girl. For instance, when you want to give your boy a baby sister or vice versa.

The gender of the baby may depend on a number of factors, including the position you have sex in to get pregnant. But you can also time intercourse to affect the chances of conceiving a chosen gender. Dr Tan Thiam Chye, obstetrician and gynaecologist, says that the most accurate way is to predict when your ovulation is. Women always produce the X chromosome; and an egg is always an X chromosome. So whether you have a boy or a girl, it depends on the sperm, which can be either X sperm or Y sperm. The Y sperm — the male sperm — is faster moving and more mobile. However, it swims much faster, but it dies faster too. Meaning that if you have sex on the day of ovulation, you may get a boy. If you have sex a few days before ovulation, as the X sperms will survive longer, you will likely get a girl.

There are also many methods told as old wives’ tales, says Dr Tan. “Actually the Chinese even have a calendar. Which day determines whether you’ll get a boy or a girl. That’s related to the electromagnetic field. So some days when the electric field is in a certain direction, they believe you attract more of the Y chromosome sperm than others. In fact, a lot of my patients tell me it’s very, very accurate, but the scientific evidence is not strong.”

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A/Prof Tan Thiam Chye
MBBS (S'pore), M.Med(O&G) (S'pore) Head & Senior Consultant Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology KK Women's and Children's Hospital Director (Clinical), Office of Patient Experience Deputy Director (Education), KKH Campus Associate Professor Duke - NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore

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