How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant?

How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant?

Getting pregnant can be an exciting yet stressful experience for many couples. While some get pregnant right away, others may take longer than expected. On average, it takes most couples 4-6 months of actively trying to conceive before getting a positive pregnancy test. However, many factors affect your chances of conception each cycle. Read on to learn what impacts your fertility, when to seek help, and tips to increase your odds of getting pregnant faster.

What Affects Your Chances of Getting Pregnant Each Cycle?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a couple in their 20s or early 30s who are having regular, unprotected sex has about a 20-25% chance of getting pregnant each menstrual cycle. However, your individual probability can vary significantly based on factors like:


Female fertility gradually declines in the 30s, significantly dropping after age 35. According to a study from 2018, a woman aged 30 to 34 has about an 82% chance of getting pregnant within a year of trying. By age 40, this declines to about a 50% chance within a year of trying. Male fertility also declines with age, but not as abruptly. Studies show sperm motility, morphology, concentration and count decrease with age, lowering fertility and increasing the risk of pregnancy complications.

Ovulation Timing

The few days leading up to and including ovulation day have the highest pregnancy probability. If you have sex on these high fertility days, your odds of that cycle are 20-30%. Outside this window, your chance of conceiving is close to 0%.

That’s why timing sex to your fertile window is key for getting pregnant faster. An ovulation calculator or ovulation test kits can help identify your most fertile days.

Menstrual Cycle Length and Regularity

Longer cycles often have longer follicular phases (time before ovulation). This allows more time for immature egg development, leading to the ovulation of poorer-quality eggs.

Irregular cycles make pinpointing ovulation difficult. If you frequently skip cycles or don’t ovulate for some months, the number of conception opportunities decreases.

Reproductive Health Issues

Untreated issues like uterine fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, thyroid disorders, or infections can negatively impact fertility. Getting appropriate treatment can boost your chances.

Male factor issues like low sperm count, motility, or morphology also lower the odds each cycle. Seeing a fertility specialist for evaluation is recommended if you suspect male factor infertility.

Body Weight

Having a BMI outside the healthy range of 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 can affect ovulation and fertility. According to an ACOG committee opinion, 12% of primary infertility cases are due to ovulatory dysfunction from being overweight or underweight.

Frequency of Sex

Your odds of getting pregnant each cycle increase with more frequent sex. But don’t worry if you can’t have sex daily. Studies show similar per-cycle pregnancy rates for couples having sex every 1-2 days vs. daily.

The key is having sex in the few days before ovulation to increase the odds that fresh sperm will be present when the egg is released. Using an ovulation calculator or ovulation tests can time sex to your fertile window.

Previous Pregnancies

Nulliparous women (those who haven’t given birth before) have lower fertility rates than parous women. According to an analysis in Obstetrics & Gynecology, nulliparous women trying for pregnancy had a 66% lower probability of conception over 6 cycles compared to women with a prior birth.

Other Factors

Smoking, alcohol intake, chronic health conditions, medications, environmental exposures, stress levels, diet, and other lifestyle factors can also impact your fertility. Getting healthy prior to trying conception may optimize your chances.

How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant By Age?

The most influential factor on your conception chances is age. Here is the average time to get pregnant naturally based on age, per ACOG:

  • Age 19-26 – Average is 4-6 months to conceive
  • Age 27-34 – Average is 6-12 months to conceive
  • Over age 35 – Average is often longer than 12 months to conceive

However, these are just averages. Plenty of couples conceive faster or slower than these timeframes. Here’s a more complete breakdown by age:

Teens and Early 20s

For most women, peak fertility occurs in their early 20s. This is the easiest age bracket for getting pregnant naturally.

  • Women aged 19-26 have a monthly pregnancy probability of around 25%.
  • Over 90% will get pregnant after trying for 12 months. About half conceive within just 3 months.

Late 20s and Early 30s

Fertility starts to gradually decline after age 27 but is still robust in this age bracket for most women.

  • Women aged 27-34 have a monthly pregnancy probability of around 20%.
  • Over 85% will get pregnant after trying for 12 months. About 60% conceive within 6 months .

Late 30s and Early 40s

The chance of getting pregnant naturally significantly declines for women in their late 30s/early 40s. However, pregnancy is still possible.

  • Women aged 35-39 have a monthly probability around 15%.
  • The average time to conceive is about 8 months. Over 80% will get pregnant within 12 months of trying.
  • Women aged 40-44 have a monthly probability under 10%.
  • Average time to conceive is over 12 months. About two-thirds will get pregnant after trying for 12 months.

Over Age 45

After age 45, chances of conceiving naturally are low. However, it can still occur in exceptional cases.

  • Women over 45 have a less than 5% monthly pregnancy probability.
  • Less than 50% will get pregnant after trying for 12 months.
  • By late 40s, chances are less than 1% per cycle.

Keep in mind these are averages. Individual conception chances vary immensely based on your unique fertility factors. That’s why it’s impossible to predict precisely how long it will take you to conceive.

When To See A Doctor If You’re Not Getting Pregnant

Seeing a fertility specialist for a full workup is smart if you’re under 35 and haven’t conceived after 6 months of well-timed sex. If you’re over 35, make an appointment after 3-4 months since your fertility is declining faster.

Evaluation and treatments can identify and address issues hampering your fertility. Common tests may include:

  • Physical exam to assess for structural problems or abnormalities
  • Hormone testing to check ovarian reserve and confirm ovulation
  • Hysteroscopy to examine the uterine cavity
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to ensure fallopian tubes are open
  • Semen analysis to assess sperm count, morphology, and motility
  • Post-coital testing to examine cervical mucus quality and sperm function

Don’t hesitate to get help if you suspect an issue. Seeing a doctor sooner improves your odds of getting pregnant faster with the right interventions.

Tips To Increase Chances of Getting Pregnant Quickly

While you can’t change age-related fertility decline, certain lifestyle measures can maximize your monthly chances of conception. Here are tips from ACOG and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM):

  • Have sex every 1-2 days during the fertile window
  • Get a preconception checkup to address any health issues
  • Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before conception
  • Achieve a healthy BMI through diet, exercise, or treatment
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and toxic exposures when trying to conceive
  • Reduce stress levels through meditation, yoga, counseling, or other methods
  • Get sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment if needed
  • Limit caffeine to under 200 mg per day while trying to get pregnant
  • Track ovulation signs like cervical mucus, basal body temperature, or use ovulation predictor kits so you can better time intercourse

Making these lifestyle adjustments can set the stage for a healthy pregnancy by optimizing your wellbeing and maximizing your chances each cycle.

Understanding the Conception Process

To understand why getting pregnant can take time, it helps to learn how conception occurs. Here is an overview of what needs to happen for pregnancy:

1. Ovulation Occurs

This releases a mature egg from the ovaries. It needs to be fertilized within 12-24 hours before it disintegrates. You ovulate roughly once per menstrual cycle.

2. Viable Sperm Are Present

For pregnancy to occur, viable sperm need to be present in the reproductive tract during the time of ovulation. Sperm can survive inside the female body for up to 5 days after ejaculation.

Therefore, if you have unprotected sex in the days leading up to ovulation, sperm may still be present when the egg is released. Even though the likelihood of getting pregnant right before your period starts is low, it’s not zero if ovulation occurs soon after your period ends.

3. Ovulation Occurs Sooner Than Expected

Typically, ovulation happens 10-16 days before your next period starts. So you would expect it to occur in the middle of your cycle. However, the timing of ovulation can vary from month to month.

Sometimes, ovulation happens earlier than expected. If you have a shorter menstrual cycle, you may ovulate closer to the end of your period than normal. If intercourse takes place before ovulation, the chances of getting pregnant increase.

4. Unpredictable Menstrual Cycles

For women with irregular cycles, ovulation is harder to predict. Your cycle length and when you ovulate can change dramatically each month.

For example, your previous cycle may have been 35 days long, meaning you ovulated around day 21. But your next cycle ends up being only 28 days long, which means ovulation occurred around day 14.

If you had sex on day 28 thinking your period was starting, but then ovulated 4 days later, you could get pregnant. Irregular cycles make it harder to time intercourse and avoid pregnancy.

5. Implantation Bleeding Occurs

About 6-12 days after fertilization, the embryo implants in the uterus. This implantation can cause light bleeding known as implantation bleeding.

Sometimes, this bleeding occurs around the time your normal period starts. As a result, you may mistake it for a regular period. But if ovulation occurred earlier and conception happened, then it’s possible to be pregnant despite having bleeding.

6. Previous Pregnancy

If you have been pregnant before, it’s possible to get pregnant again in less time. Your body gears up for subsequent pregnancies faster compared to the first one.

One study found women had a higher probability of conceiving in the first three cycles after an initial pregnancy. Your body has “practice” getting pregnant and may release eggs of better quality.

In summary, getting pregnant on your period is unlikely but still possible depending on your unique menstrual cycle and the exact timing of intercourse. Tracking ovulation is key for understanding when you’re most fertile each month. If you don’t want to become pregnant, protection is advised even during your period.

For more on early pregnancy symptoms and changes, see our article on Can You Get Pregnant on Your Period?

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