How long does it take to get pregnant?

Body clockMany different factors affect your chances of getting pregnant, and it is also a very individual thing, but there are some factors that can influence how long it takes to get pregnant.

According to NHS Choices, most couples will conceive within a year if they have regular unprotected sex. It says that about 84 out of every 100 conceive within a year and about 92 out of 100 take up to two years. 

Trying to conceive can become an all-consuming obsession and your period starting each month can become extremely demoralising.

The thing to remember is that it is totally normal not to conceive as soon as you start trying. 

What factors affect getting pregnant?

  • Age

The most obvious factor is age, although there will always be the examples of over-40s getting pregnant at their first try, the truth is that fertility begins to decline when women hit 35.

NHS statistics say that at age 35, 94 out of 100 women will get pregnant after three years, but by age 38, only 77 out of 100 will do so.

  •  How often you have sex

You won't get pregnant very quickly if you're not having sex, but how frequently should you be doing it? The sit-com cliché of the baby-crazed woman sitting in bed tapping her watch with ovulation stick in hand is fairly familiar, but the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence advises against obsessive targeting of ovulation times because the stress it can cause can be counterproductive.

The best way to go about it is to have sex when you think you might be fertile by trying to notice the signs that you are ovulating, but also cover all bases by having sex every two to three days so that there will be sperm in the right place whenever you do ovulate.

Having sex every day, while tempting (or perhaps not!), may actually lower the quality of sperm.

  • Health

Your general health will have an effect on the time it takes you to conceive. A history of reproductive health problems, STIs, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), previous surgery on reproductive organs and endometriosis can make it more difficult to conceive, as can a history of asthma or diabetes.

Women who are either underweight or overweight may take longer to conceive as both conditions affect hormone levels, which can suppress ovulation.

  •  Diet and lifestyle

Exercise, a healthy diet and laying off the fags and booze can give you a better chance of conceiving.

NICE recommends no more than two units of alcohol once or twice a week and stopping smoking altogether.

Your partner should only drink up to four units a day and no binge drinking. This is because smoking and drinking can both have an adverse effect on sperm count, and the quality and motility of sperm. To give the little swimmers the best chance of fertilising an egg, it's best to eat healthily, drink moderately and do a spot of exercise. Oh, and no tight pants - testicles need a cooler temperature in order to produce good strong sperm.

Steer him towards boxers even if he prefers a snug pair of Y-fronts. Other boosts to male fertility are getting enough zinc and selenium.

  • Fertility problems

There may be underlying fertility problems such as PCOS, blocked fallopian tubes or sperm allergy that prevent conception.

If you're under 35 and you've been trying to conceive for more than a year, go and see your GP who may be able to send you for fertility investigations. If you're over 35, go to your GP after six months.

If you have concerns before this or have had reproductive health issues before, you could always have a pre-conception health check with your GP. 

What Mumsnetters say about how long it takes to get pregnant

  • I think it comes down to the individual whether or not you struggle to conceive when increasing in age. We all know the stats, but it's all about personal circumstances and biology. Honeypetal
My considered opinion is that babymaking is very much a lottery. Two months of trying is, on the one hand, no time at all, but on the other hand it can seem like a lifetime. PacificDogwood
  • Professor Winston says that a lot of couples forget to have sex often enough. Apparently, having sex once a month gives you a 3% chance of conceiving but having sex 20 times a month gives you a 40% chance. Piprabbit
  • I had a course of reflexology. I don't know if it helped but after about four sessions I was pregnant. I do think the detox/healthy eating (12 portions of fruit and veg a day and lots of water) that the reflexologist made me do at the same time probably helped, together with my husband and I making a concerted effort to do it lots at the right time! 

Have fun trying and try to relax (I know - easier said than done!). Meep


Last updated: about 14 hours ago