Finally! A breakdown of everything that's going on in your body when you're trying to conceive, from 1 day past ovulation, all the way to 19 days after. Find out all you'll need to get through the TWW and beyond.
Trying for a baby can be equal parts magical, stressful, exciting, and frustrating. Whether you're trying for the first time, or you've already been down this road before, there's just so much to keep track of and so many different terms to learn.
DPO, or 'days past ovulation' , is one of the more important terms to get your head around. That's because how many DPO you are not only tells you when you can reliably take a pregnancy test , it can also help you to keep track of the potential pregnancy symptoms you might be experiencing.
After all, it's very common for hopeful parents-to-be to keep an eagle eye on every little change, in case it might be the clue that you're finally heading for a BFP (big fat positive on a pregnancy test). So if you're obsessively symptom-spotting, don't judge yourself! You're definitely not alone.
The whole trying to conceive (TTC) process can be hard enough without you having to wonder just what on Earth is going on in your body. That's why we've pulled together a ll the important information from the NHS , Healthline , and other experts, to help you to get a handle on where you are in the baby-making process .
We've broken it down so you can see, as best we can tell you, what to expect at every DPO from day 1 to 19, and you'll be able to find the links for each day in the appropriate sections below. The links for the specific days will tell you what symptoms (if any) you can expect at that stage, and you'll be able to see what some members of our Netmums community have experienced when they were the same number of DPO, and if it resulted in a pregnancy or not.
How the conception process works
On the day that you ovulate, an egg is released from one of your ovaries, and starts to travel down the fallopian tube towards your womb. If the egg meets sperm on the way, it might become fertilised. If not, the egg will leave your body during your next period.
Sperm can live in the body for up to 5 days, so if you had sex around 4 days before you ovulated, or on the day immediately afterwards, the egg could become fertilised within 24 hours of ovulation.
If the egg is fertilised, it continues moving down the fallopian tube towards your womb. According to Healthline , the fertilised egg usually implants in the womb about 8-9 days after fertilisation, though it can vary by quite a few days either way.
Generally, implantation usually happens somewhere between 6 - 12 days past ovulation (6dpo - 12dpo). However, everyone's body is different, so it's tricky to be exact about when it happens.
If a fertilised egg has implanted in your womb, your body will start making the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). High levels of hCG are what give a positive pregnancy test , and it also contributes to early pregnancy symptoms , like nausea, sore breasts and fatigue.
It can take time for hCG to build up in your body, though. According to Healthline , it takes about 7-12 days after implantation for hCG levels to be detectable . So that's anything from 13dpo onwards, or roughly around the time that your period would be due.
What's happening in my body at 1DPO to 5DPO?
Welcome to the start of the dreaded Two-Week Wait (TWW). That's the time you'll need to wait after ovulation before you can start taking normal pregnancy tests and have a decent chance of an accurate result.
This early in the process, you're not going to be pregnant yet, but the wheels could be in motion.
There are two possibilities for what's happening right now:
- An egg has been released from your ovaries and has started to make its way down the fallopian tube – but it hasn't yet been fertilised by sperm (This means you're not yet pregnant, but there's still time for your egg to be fertilised!)
- An egg has been released from your ovaries, and was fertilised in the fallopian tube by sperm – but it hasn't yet made its way all the way down your fallopian tubes to implant in your uterus (This means that you could get pregnant if the fertilised egg implants, but only time will tell.)
It's a good idea to keep track of when you last had sex, as that will influence when fertilisation takes place (if it does happen this time). Even if the egg has been fertilised, this is generally still too early for it to have implanted, so you are unlikely to be experiencing any of the early symptoms of pregnancy yet.
For a breakdown of what's most likely happening on each specific day past ovulation, check out the links below:
What's happening in my body at 6DPO to 13DPO?
This is the phase that decides whether or not you'll get pregnant this time around. From 6DPO there starts to be a chance that, if the egg was fertilised, it has implanted in your womb.
It's still too early to start using normal pregnancy tests, as even if you are technically pregnant, your hCG hormone levels won't be high enough to be detected yet.
Here's what could be going on during this window:
- an egg has been released and travelled down your fallopian tube, but wasn’t fertilised (you’re not pregnant)
- an egg has been released and was fertilised as it travelled down your fallopian tube, but hasn’t implanted yet (you may or may not be pregnant)
- an egg has been released, fertilised, and has implanted (you’re pregnant!)
As we mentioned above, implantation normally takes place between 6DPO and 12DPO, so this is an especially exciting part of the process. Some mums are convinced that they've even felt the exact moment that the egg has implanted, and there are some very early symptoms that you might start to feel in this stage.
Once the egg has implanted, your body starts to produce the pregnancy hormone hCG, which can cause you to start to experience some of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. The sooner it is after ovulation, the less likely you'll be feeling anything though, as it still takes time for the hormone's levels to build up enough to affect you.
Like we've said, it's also still a little too early for you to be taking standard pregnancy tests yet, for the same reason - they detect hCG, and even if you are technically pregnant, normal tests are unlikely to be able to detect it yet.
There are some more expensive and sensitive tests, like First Response Early Result (FRER) tests, that you can take from 6 days before you expect your period to start, though even these might give you a false negative the earlier you take them.
For a look at what's likely to be happening in your body on specific days past ovulation, and any symptoms you might start to experience, check out the links below:
What's happening in my body at 14DPO to 19DPO?
Congratulations! By this stage, you've reached the end of the TWW, and can start to use pregnancy tests with a decent chance of them being accurate.
There are two options for what's going on in your body at this stage:
- an egg has been released from your ovary, but made it through your fallopian tube without being fertilised (you’re not pregnant)
- an egg has been released from your ovary, was fertilised, and has now implanted in your womb (you’re pregnant)
By now, the dice have been rolled, and you are either pregnant or not. However, depending on which day implantation happened, and your body's own peculiarities, it might still be a bit too early to know for certain if you're pregnant or not.
That said, there's a decent chance that, if you are pregnant, the hCG levels have built up enough for a pregnancy test to pick them up. You're also more likely to be feeling symptoms by now.
One thing that makes it a bit complicated for symptom-spotters is that quite a few of the early pregnancy symptoms are pretty similar to how you'll feel just before your period arrives. It's just something you'll need to keep in mind, to help you to manage your expectations.
To get an idea of what's likely to be happening in your body on specific days in this window, and any symptoms you might experience, have a look at the links below:
If you're looking for more information about how to track your ovulation, and how to tell when it's happening, take a look at the articles below. Plus, if you're after some support from other hopeful parents-to-be, you can hop on to our Forum to join or create a Trying to Conceive club.
Ovulation calculator and fertility calendar: find your best days to conceive
CHAT: Trying to Conceive clubs