Most people want to know how long it will take them to get pregnant. Although we do know how long it takes on average for a person or couple, it is impossible to tell how long it will take you to get pregnant, because each person is unique. In this article, we discuss the average time to conceive and when you should consider speaking with your doctor about fertility.

How long does it take to conceive?

Most couples (around 8 in 10) will get pregnant within one year if they have regular, unprotected sex. For some, it can happen quickly, but we know it gets harder to cope with the longer it takes.

Does age affect fertility?

Yes, it does. This can be frustrating and upsetting because your age is not something you can control. Many people wait to have children later in life with good reason, like wanting to create a safe and supportive environment, focusing on their career first or trying to find the right partner to have a child with. The impact that age has on fertility can be due to the number and quality of eggs decreasing over time or the quality of sperm reducing with age.

How to improve your fertility

Fertility can also be affected by your lifestyle and there are some things you can do to improve it. These include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Managing any long-term conditions (like diabetes)
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Avoiding recreational drugs 

How often should we be having sex?

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines advise to have sex every 2 to 3 days throughout the month to increase your chances of conception. However, we understand that this can be impractical or undesirable – having a set schedule for sex can make it feel like a chore. Some couples time sex by when the woman ovulates (releases an egg). Taking an ovulation test every day can feel burdensome and this can become tiring over time. It’s important to choose which method works best for you and your partner. You might decide to alternate between methods. 

When should I get help with conception?

Your GP should usually be your first port of call if you’re concerned about fertility. The guidelines in most areas suggest couples should be trying to conceive for at least a year before being investigated for fertility. However, there are situations when you shouldn’t wait to see your GP. These include:

  • If you are over 36
  • If you have a known issue that could affect your fertility (like endometriosis, PCOS or low sperm count) 
  • If you are concerned you or your partner may have an undiagnosed medical issue that may be affecting your ability to get pregnant