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?
As we’ve already mentioned it’s impossible to say how long it takes to get pregnant because it’s different for every person. Some women get pregnant very quickly (in the first 1 – 3 months of trying) which can be upsetting for those who have been trying for longer with no success.
Different factors can affect a couple’s chances of conceiving, such as:
- General health
- Reproductive health
- How often you have sex
How does age affect fertility?
Women’s fertility declines because the number and quality of their eggs decreases over time. Male fertility also declines with age, though not as much as female fertility.
We understand that women are often told their fertility decreases with age, and this can be frustrating and upsetting because your age is not something you can control. Many women wait to have children later in life with good reason, such as 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.
Given the impact of age is so important on female fertility it’s hard to give average times taken to conceive without mentioning it. One study found that for couples having regular unprotected sex:
- Around 7 out of 10 women aged 30 will conceive within one year
- Around 6 out of 10 women aged 35 will conceive within one year
- Around 4 out of 10 women aged 40 will conceive within one year.
After the age of 40, it gets harder to conceive and you may be offered fertility treatment.
Fertility and lifestyle
Fertility is affected by lifestyle and there are some things you can do to improve your fertility. For example, if you smoke it will take you longer to get pregnant than a non-smoker. If you give up smoking now, your chances of conceiving faster will increase.
Other things you can do to improve your fertility include:
- Being a healthy weight
- Being active
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Managing any chronic conditions, such as diabetes
- Limiting alcohol
- Avoiding recreational/illicit drugs.
You can read more about preconception health here.
How frequently should you have sex in order to get pregnant?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises 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, for instance if you or your partner works away, works long hours, or you have a lot of other responsibilities. It can also be 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). You can read more about how to determine when ovulation occurs here. 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 to seek help getting pregnant
Your GP should usually be your first port of call if you’re concerned about fertility. The guideline in most areas suggest couples should have been having regular sex without contraception 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 such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- If your partner has a known fertility issue, such as low sperm count
- If you are concerned you or your reproductive partner may have an undiagnosed medical issue that may be affecting your ability to get pregnant.
Learn more about how long it takes to get pregnant
- Sozou PD, Hartshorne GM (2012). Plos One. Published: October 4, 2012 Time to Pregnancy: A Computational Method for Using the Duration of Non-Conception for Predicting Conception
- NHS website. How long does it usually take to get pregnant?
- NICE guidelines website. Overview | Fertility problems: assessment and treatment | Guidance