The short answer is: If you are a healthy couple, as many times as you can.
You may have heard otherwise, but the advice to limit sex during ovulation is somewhat of an old wives tale. It does stem from a glimmer of truth, but this truth does not apply to most couples. Specifically, a relatively young couple (under 35) can have sex as often as possible with no adverse effect on sperm quality. On the other hand, if the male in the couple has issues with sperm count they should proceed with more caution. To be sure, consult with your doctor. If your partner is found to have fertility issues, your doctor may suggest limiting sex to increase the potency of each act.
When does the fertile period begin?
The length of your fertile phase depends on the life span of your partner’s sperm and your egg. Sperm can survive for a maximum of five days in fertile cervical fluid, and your egg has a lifespan of one day. This leaves a fertile period of six days within each cycle. This includes five days before ovulation and the day you ovulate. You may have heard of shorter fertile periods, and this is because your chances of conceiving increase drastically in the three days that lead up to ovulation (including the day of ovulation itself). So, if you are having scheduling conflicts and sex is just not an option for six days in a row, you may want to limit sex to those last three days.
How can I identify my most fertile period?
For some women, this can be a little tricky. If you have a regular cycle, however, it gets a little easier. Start tracking your cycle using an ovulation calendar. To be able to do this, you will need to note down the first day of your last menstrual period, and the average length of your cycles.
If you are tracking your basal body temperature, you will keep a record of your first morning reading every day of the month. When your temperature spikes, you have begun ovulating. However, since this is the last day of your fertile period, you have missed two to five of your most fertile days. If your cycle is regular, you can use this information for future months. If, for example, you ovulate on the 14th day of your cycle, you will start having sex on the ninth or the 12th day of future cycles.
Alternatively, if your cycle is irregular or you want some extra reassurance, pay attention to the changes in your cervical mucus. If you would like yet another option for tracking fertile days, you may use an ovulation prediction kit. These over-the-counter kits will tell you when there is a spike in luteinizing hormone in your body, and this can be used as an indication of fertility.
If tracking ovulation is too arduous, as a rule of thumb, having sex every two to three days will give you and your partner the best chance of conceiving.