The days of the week women are most likely to fall pregnant have nothing to do with cycles

Couple happily looking at a positive pregnancy test. (Getty Images)
Turns out there are some days of the week when couples are more likely to conceive a baby. (Getty Images)

Anyone who has ever tried for a baby will appreciate it is difficult to predict exactly when you might conceive, but it seems there are certain days of the week when pregnancy is more likely.

Turns out couples are more likely to be successful at the weekend with 36% of conceptions happening over the weekend.

The research, by hormonal health company Mira, tracked the hormones of 10,000 customers, who had fallen pregnant, daily by testing urine samples with a fertility stick while they were trying to conceive.

The stick measured hormone levels and noted ovulation, while the app, included with the kit, helped users record when they had sex and pregnancy news.

By looking at three logs within the app – intercourse, ovulation and pregnancy – researchers could figure out how many users got pregnant and when it happened.

Results revealed couples were more likely to conceive at the weekend than any other days, with over a third of those trying revealing the conception happened on a non-work day.

Unsurprisingly, one of the factors impacting higher weekend conception is the likelihood of couples having more sex.

“Studies show that the frequency of sexual activity is significantly higher on weekends," explains Rosemary MacKenzie, medical affairs specialist and NFP (Natural Family Planning) practitioner at Mira.

"It’s also known that stress experienced during weekdays prevents couples from sexual activity and affects overall satisfaction."

MacKenzie says daily life stressors can also contribute to cortisol (the stress hormone) release that can interfere with conception too.

"That’s why it’s so important for couples trying to conceive to take actions to manage their stress and prioritise their intimate relationship to improve their chances of conception.”

Woman feeling stressed trying to conceive. (Getty Images)
Trying to conceive can be stressful. (Getty Images)

Feeling more relaxed at the weekend is no doubt a potential contributor to that period being a popular time for conception, but the relationship between stress and fertility is complex.

"Researchers seeking to understand the interplay between the two often get mixed results," explains Dr Kara McElligott, gynaecologist, menopause practitioner and medical advisor at Mira.

"Cortisol is a marker that has been used to study stress in the body. Chronically high levels of cortisol, in either men or women, have been associated with changes in fertility, such as lower sperm quality, irregular ovulation and a longer time until conception."

However, Dr McElligott says it is important to note that stress is a protective response to what our brain perceives as an abnormal or dangerous situation.

"The body’s physical and psychological reactions to stress are designed to shunt energy into what the body needs to fight or flee immediately," she explains. "Reproductive function is a low priority when the body is in fight-or-flight mode, so in times of chronic stress, low fertility is an adaptive mechanism."

In modern society, while we do not face the same dangers that existed when these protective systems evolved, Dr McElligott says our hindbrain cannot tell the difference.

So it's important not to heap on the pressure of trying not to feel stressed.

"Yes, it's good to relax and have fun when trying to conceive, but it's okay if that doesn’t come naturally," she advises. "Since reproduction is tied to the species' survival, it's unsurprising that trying to conceive is an instinctive stressor for couples.

"In addition, high-stress levels – for brief periods or around the time of conception – are not likely to affect your ability to conceive."

According to Dr McElligott, it is chronic ongoing stress that's most likely to disrupt the processes supporting fertility.

"The first step to lowering stress is to acknowledge that the stress response is your body’s way of trying to protect you, then focus on what you can do to: a) remove stressors where possible; and c) decrease the chronic stress response by showing the subconscious brain that you are safe," she adds.

And there are some things that could help when trying to reduce the stress surrounding trying to get pregnant including:

  • Communication. Talk to someone you trust in your support community about your feelings.

  • Physical self-care. Strive to eat a balanced diet, get one-five hours of physical exercise per week, and get at least eight hours of sleep at night.

  • Seek out activities that reinforce a sense of safety and wellbeing in your body: such as yoga, mindful breathing activities, and spending time in green outdoor spaces.

Couple relaxing on a bed together. (Getty Images)
It's important to try to take the pressure off when trying to conceive. (Getty Images)

As well as trying to control your stress levels (which can be stressful in itself), there are some other things you and your partner can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant.

“There’s a wide range of factors that can help to increase fertility naturally," explains Terry Sullivan, managing director at Fertility Family.

"These range from diet, supplements, sleep and exercise, to things you might not immediately consider, such as your mental health."

Eat the right foods

A balanced diet, with the right nutrients, will help your body to produce both egg and sperm of a higher quality.

"Using fresh ingredients like a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, slow-burning carbs, and no extra sugar can all make a difference when it comes to increasing your chances of conceiving," advises Sullivan.

Take Folic acid

Folic acid, or ‘Vitamin B9’, is very important for the development of the neural tube in a baby. "400mcg a day is the recommended amount for women trying to conceive," Sullivan adds.

Consider a nutrient supplement

Sullivan says getting all the necessary nutrients from your diet can be challenging, so supplementing with the correct blend of micronutrients is important for optimising the quality of eggs or sperm and increasing the chances of conceiving.

"While a lot of over-the-counter conception vitamins lack scientific backing, selecting a supplement like Impryl, which has proven clinical effectiveness, is something we would recommend," he adds.

Rest up

Sleep also plays an important role in trying to conceive, as fatigue can impact fertility, so Sullivan recommends trying to get into a routine which allows for enough rest.