How Soon After Sex Can You Get Pregnant?

Pregnancy Timeline: What to Expect and When to Test

Have you ever noticed how time seems to slow to an agonizing crawl when you're waiting for important news? If you're trying to get pregnant, you might be familiar with this phenomenon, thanks to the infamous “two-week wait” that you must endure before finding out whether or not you have successfully conceived. The stage is set for pregnancy when sperm meets egg, but it isn’t official until the fertilized egg makes itself at home in the uterine lining.


Pregnancy test.

The Role of hCG in Pregnancy

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Every month, the ovaries release a mature egg into the fallopian tubes in the event that a sperm will be around to fertilize it. Fertilization occurs when the sperm cell from the male meets and successfully penetrates the mature egg from the female. The egg is only viable for a short period of time, so fertilization must take place within 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. If it's not fertilized within this time, the egg will dry up and be reabsorbed into the body.


After fertilization, the egg hangs out in the fallopian tube for a few days before it begins the journey to its final destination in the lining of the uterus. Implantation happens when the egg buries itself into the lining of the uterus, where it will continue to grow and develop throughout the pregnancy. The timing of implantation varies for every woman but typically ranges between five to 12 days after ovulation. Since pregnancy is not official until the egg implants, the fastest you can get pregnant after sex is five days after ovulation, but it could take up to 12 days.

When to Take a Pregnancy Test

Pregnancy test.

How Long After Your Period Can You Get Pregnant?

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When you're eager to find out if you’ve successfully conceived, you may be tempted to take a pregnancy test too early. Pregnancy test results are most reliable when taken after a missed period. Even though some brands of pregnancy tests suggest that you can take the test several days before your period is due, a quick read of the label reveals that doing so drastically reduces your chances of a reliable result. Pregnancy tests work by detecting the pregnancy hormone HCG, which is not produced until implantation. Women with irregular periods should wait at least three weeks before testing to obtain an accurate result. If you get a positive result on a home pregnancy test, make an appointment with your doctor to confirm with a blood test to ensure that everything is progressing smoothly.