Most of us spend years trying very hard NOT to get pregnant. When you finally decide that it’s time to start a family, it can be an unpleasant surprise to discover that it isn’t happening overnight. How long should you expect it to take to get pregnant, and when should you start to worry?

According to the statistics, only one in four couples conceives in the first cycle of trying. After six months, more than half have succeeded, and after a year, eight out of ten couples will have conceived. Of those who do not conceive in the first year, about half will do so in the second year, meaning that after two years of trying, ninety percent of couples will have got pregnant naturally.

Keep in mind that “trying to conceive” means having frequent intercourse (at least three times a week) and/or paying attention to intercourse timing. If you often fail to have intercourse during your fertile window, you can’t expect to conceive quickly.

What is infertility?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse,” or “the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year”.

Indeed, most fertility specialists will tell you not to worry until you have tried for a year. However, if you are a woman over 35, it is recommended that you see a doctor after six months of trying unsuccessfully. Women’s fertility declines rapidly after that age, and it is best to avoid losing time should you need a fertility treatment.

You should also consult your doctor earlier if you have specific reasons to be concerned about your fertility, for instance if you don’t have menstrual periods, or if either partner has been treated for cancer.

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