Trying to get pregnant is often a time of great expectations and excitement, which is why it can quickly get very frustrating if conception doesn’t happen as soon as you would have liked or expected.
So how long does it take to become pregnant?
There is no simple answer to this question, as it depends on a series of individual circumstances such as your general health, age, and frequency of sex – not to mention the luck factor. Even couples with serious fertility issues may strike luck on their first attempt, while others may struggle for months or years for no apparent reason.
Here’s what the statistics say:
- 25 percent of couples – one in four – get pregnant in the first cycle of trying
- 60 percent get pregnant within six months
- 80 percent get pregnant within a year
- 90 percent get pregnant within two years
So even though many couples don’t succeed right away, most of them will get that positive pregnancy test within a year or two.
Unfortunately, statistical averages don’t take into account individual differences in fertility. Your own chances of conception may be better than average if you are young and healthy, and they may be lower if you are above 35 or have health or lifestyle issues which may affect your fertility.
While about nine in ten women trying to conceive will get pregnant naturally, the tenth couple will be diagnosed as infertile. It is likely that close to 95 percent of couples could get pregnant naturally if they tried long enough, but most couples with fertility issues will prefer seeking help rather than wait and see.
If you have tried for more than a year without success, you should see a doctor. If the woman is more than 35 years old, you should seek help after six months of trying unsuccessfully. Her fertility decreases for every year, and you want to avoid wasting precious time.
Risk factors for increased time to pregnancy (TTP)
If any of the below apply to you, it may take you longer than average to conceive. But again, remember that statistics are just statistics. Couples with the odds against them sometimes get pregnant quickly and easily too.
That said, if you are at increased risk of fertility issues, and/or you find that it takes longer than expected to conceive, you may want to make sure you do everything you can to optimize those aspects of your fertility that you have some control over.
Read more: 10 tips for getting pregnant faster
As mentioned above, women’s fertility gradually declines with their age and in particular after their mid-thirties. The reasons are that older women’s ovarian reserve (number of eggs) is lower: as you age, there are fewer and fewer good-quality eggs.
While men remain fertile for much longer than women, male fertility also declines with age. A study of male fertility published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that as the male partner’s age increased, so did time to pregnancy: Compared to 25-year-olds, men over 45 were five times more likely to have tried for over a year, and twelve times more likely to have tried for more than two years. The effect was similar even when the female partner was young.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, both male and female smokers are about twice as likely as nonsmokers to experience fertility problems, and the risk of infertility increases with the number of cigarettes smoked.
It’s not only tobacco either: One study found that men under 30 who used cannabis in the three months prior to giving a sperm sample, were almost twice as likely to have poor sperm morphology (less than four percent normal sperm cells).
To increase your chances of getting pregnant faster, quit smoking. Allen Carr’s “Easyway” method has helped countless smokers from all over the world get rid of their habit – you can do it too.
Overweight or underweight
Overweight and obesity in women can cause hormonal imbalances and ovulation problems, and it is also associated with poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility.
In men, overweight is associated with poorer sperm quality, a lower appetit for sex, and increased risk of erection problems.
On the other hand, underweight is also associated with ovulation issues in women, and with reduced sperm quality in men.
There’s no quick fix for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, but any improvement of your diet and weight will contribute towards improved fertility.
You may want to consult a professional dietitian for guidance and support, or just try some inspirational reading. The Anderson Method is simple and common-sense, and a good place to start if you are feeling lost in the jungle of weigh-loss advice.