• Grace Health

How long does it take to conceive after unprotected sex?

Updated: Mar 28

Trying to conceive may seem difficult and confusing to many. Understanding the whole scientific process behind it might help shed light on the topic. However, you could still wonder how long it takes.

Simply put, the egg and sperm can meet between 12 to 24hrs after unprotected sexual intercourse. Many couples expect that it’s straightforward after this step but there’s more to it. Here’s how reproduction works, how to time it, and how to maximize your chances of getting pregnant.


Step one: Fertilization

Fertilization occurs when the sperm manages to swim to meet the ovulated egg, It attaches itself to the egg to form a zygote. Usually, this takes place in the fallopian tube and not in the uterus. In order for this to happen, a woman needs to be in her fertile window. This means that one or more eggs have matured enough to be released from the ovary, ready to get fertilized by a sperm(s). Fertilization happens 12- 24 hours after sperms have been released and are on their way down the tube.


This might sound bleak but don't worry. Sperms can live up to 3-5 days. This means that having unprotected sex for about a week to ovulation could be sufficient to have the egg fertilized by the sperm.

There is a possibility to conceive after having sex a week before ovulation. It is important to note that conception can still occur soon after having sex because the sperm would meet the egg quickly after ejaculation.

Step two: Implantation

This is the process where the embryo reaches the uterus and attaches itself to the endometrium: the lining covering the inside of the uterus. This happens after conception. The implanted embryo will begin to grow and develop into a fetus.


At this stage, you are likely to experience symptoms such as period absence, swollen breasts, nausea, and in some cases lower abdominal pain similar to cramps. However, a few women may experience small blood flow referred to as implantation bleeding.


Step three: The pregnancy test

This tests for a positive or negative result of a pregnancy hormone called Human chorionic gonadotropin Hcg, which is usually released by the body. The amount of Hcg quickly increases during the first few weeks of a normal pregnancy. It is detectable within the early phase of pregnancy, often it could even before you noticed you missed your period. In some scenarios. It is possible to test positive for pregnancy and having your period days later. This is a result of something called a chemical pregnancy.

Meaning it's too early to be considered as a miscarriage.


You can purchase a home pregnancy testing kit at supermarkets, drugstores, or online. Make sure the pregnancy test kit is not expired. Ensure that you follow all instructions and follow up with your doctor if you have a positive result or if you have a negative result but your period does not start.

In cases where symptoms are not present, you might want to go for a blood test. Although it is not really required, a few medical conditions will need blood samples of Hcg. For example, sudden onset of severe abdominal pain, if you've had a miscarriage and a late period lasting more than one 1month.


Step Four: Early pregnancy symptoms

It is advisable to have a pregnancy test after a more than 2 weeks delay in your period, to confirm the possibility of pregnancy. A positive test tells you that you are pregnant!

Some early pregnancy symptoms are:

  • Fatigue

  • Severe Nausea and vomiting

  • Heightened senses (sense of smell and sense of taste)

  • Frequent urination

  • Tender breast

These symptoms may occur within the 8th to 12week of pregnancy.

How can you increase your chances of getting pregnant?

Here are some tips and important things to note to maximize your chances:

  • Regular sex every second day or more during the week before ovulation- when the fertile window is open!

  • Learn to identify your fertile window and ovulation by tracking signs like fertile discharge, increase in baseline body temperature by using the Grace Health App.

  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, emergency pills, and other contraceptive methods

  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight by eating food rich in vitamins.

  • Avoid stressful activities and situations.


In summary

  • There are four steps you need to take into consideration when trying to conceive. These are Fertilization, Implantation, early pregnancy signs and symptoms, and how to test for pregnancy.

  • Regular sex every second day or more during the week before ovulation- the best time for conception is when your fertile window is open.

  • It is also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle as you begin this journey. Stay informed and stay in control. What have you learned in this blog post today? Share with us in the comments below.

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