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Determining the Date of Conception
Because the human egg is capable of fertilization for only 12 to 24 hours after ovulation the date of ovulation may be taken as
being the date of conception. However, ultrasound determination of the date of ovulation has the same imprecision as does
the ultrasound estimate of the gestational age and, therefore, a precise date of conception cannot usually be determined as with in vitro fertilization.
In addition, although a woman is most likely to become pregnant if she has sex on the day of ovulation conception may also
occur from live sperm still in her reproductive tract on the day of ovulation if she had sex for up to five days before ovulation.
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The default for this calculator bases the calculation on a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP), under the assumption that childbirth
on average occurs at a gestational age (age of a pregnancy calculated from the woman’s last menstrual period) of 280 days, or 40 weeks.
Although there is some debate regarding when pregnancy technically begins, whether at fertilization of the egg (conception), or when
the egg adheres to the uterus (implantation), gestational age does not vary based on different definitions of pregnancy since it is based
on LMP. In terms of gestational age, pregnancies typically last between 37 and 42 weeks, with 40 weeks often being used as an estimate
in calculations. Thus, the due date is usually estimated by calculating the date that is 40 weeks from the start of a woman’s LMP.
Estimating due date based on ultrasound involves the use of soundwaves to look inside the body and compare the growth of the fetus
to typical growth rates of babies around the world. It is a simple process that can be performed quickly and easily, that has no known
risk to babies, and can be an accurate estimate of the due date early in the pregnancy.
Using conception date to estimate due date is similar to using the last menstrual period, except for a difference of about two weeks
in the point of measurement, based on the timing between the last menstrual period and the date of conception.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
When using in vitro fertilization, the estimation of the due date is generally more precise than calculating the due date based on
natural conception, since the exact transfer date is known. It still uses the average gestational age at birth of 40 weeks from a
woman’s last menstrual period, as do the other methods. In the case of IVF, however, the due date estimate can be made based on
LMP, day of ovulation, egg retrieval, insemination, as well as the date of the 3-day or 5-day embryo transfer. In this calculator, the embryo transfer date is used.