Most women will ovulate mid-cycle, around day 14–15. For couples trying for a baby naturally it is ideal to have sexual intercourse 1–2 days before the LH surge as the sperm are able to wait next to the ovary for 48 hours until ovulation occurs. This will mean having sex on days 12–13. It can take between 30 minutes and two hours for the sperm to travel up into the cervix and into the fallopian tube where insemination takes place.

Midway through your menstrual cycle just before and during ovulation, you should have a stringy discharge that exits the vagina. This is known as cervical mucus as it drips down from the cervix. The sperm travel up into the cervix via the woman’s cervical mucus discharge. It looks a bit like egg white and for that reason it’s often referred to as that. You can check if you have this egg white discharge by taking some of it in your fingers and pulling it apart. It should stretch apart, unlike your normal discharge at other times in your cycle. When you begin to notice this egg white discharge, you should start having sexual intercourse.

If no cervical mucus exists, it could mean it is high up in the vaginal canal, that there isn’t a lot, or there is none at all. An artificial substitute lube that mimics a woman’s cervical mucus can be used to assist the sperms’ travel into the cervix. This is applied to the woman’s vagina before sexual intercourse and can be bought from most pharmacies. Once the sperm reach the ovary, they can wait and recharge for a few days until the egg is released.

Couples can start trying two-three days before ovulation and then once to twice a day until one day after ovulation to ensure they have covered all chances. Men should ejaculate ‘old’ sperm from their testis three days prior to sexual intercourse to ensure that only fresh, healthy sperm are used for conception. Fertilisation needs to take place 12–24 hours after the egg has been released from the ovary, so it’s best to have sex before ovulation than afterwards. It is not advisable to try excessively at other times in the cycle as this can lead to male fertility problems, for example poor sperm quality caused by exhaustion of the body’s resources.