In this article
How long does it usually take to get pregnant?In general, a fertile couple has a good chance of getting pregnant within a year. Out of 100 couples trying to conceive naturally:
- 20 will conceive within one month
- 72 will conceive within six months
- 84 will conceive within one year
- 92 will conceive within two years (ASRM 2012, CKS 2012)
Bear in mind that these statistics are only averages. Some couples have a high monthly fertility. This means that they have a higher than average chance of getting pregnant within any given month. They are likely to fall pregnant quickly, probably within a few months.
Other couples have a low monthly fertility. This means that they have a lower than average chance of getting pregnant within any given month. They are likely to take longer to get pregnant.
Your age makes a difference too. Women in their early 20s are at their peak of fertility so have a higher than average chance of conceiving over each cycle. A woman's fertility naturally declines from her mid- to late 30s onwards (ASRM 2012).
Taking up to two years to get pregnant is normal for some couples. It may feel far from normal if it’s happening to you. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a fertility problem (NICE 2013). About half of the couples who don’t get pregnant within a year will conceive the following year, if they keep trying (NICE 2013).
Is a pregnancy test accurate?
Can you trust the result your pregnancy test shows you? Our video explains just how accurate pregnancy tests are.More pregnancy videos
What could make it take longer to get pregnant?There are lots of factors that can affect your chances of getting pregnant, such as:
- Whether you have any reproductive problems, such as a history of pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Your age, your diet, your lifestyle and your job.
- Your partner’s age, his diet, his lifestyle and his job.
- Whether you are underweight or overweight.
- Whether you have any chronic illnesses.
- How regularly you have sex (NICE 2013).
If you’re 35 years or under, and you’ve been trying for a baby for a year, then see your GP (NICE 2013). She may suggest some initial investigations to find out whether you can improve your chances.
If you’re 36 or over, then seek help sooner (NICE 2013). The same applies if you or your partner have an existing problem, such as an undescended testicle in childhood or a history of polycystic ovaries, which may affect your chances of conceiving.
Whatever your circumstances, it’s advisable to see your GP for a pre-pregnancy check-up.
What could improve my chances of getting pregnant?Make sure that you and your partner are in tip-top baby-making condition. But having regular, unprotected sex is the key. Once a week may not be often enough. Instead, aim to have sex every two or three days (NICE 2013).
You may have heard that it helps to pinpoint exactly when you are ovulating and to have sex then. There is, of course, some truth in this technique. Your chances of getting pregnant are much higher on the days in your menstrual cycle when you’re most fertile (FPA 2014).
However, fertility experts advise against using complicated techniques to detect ovulation and then timing your sex life to specific days each cycle. It can make trying for a baby more stressful than it needs to be (NICE 2013, NHS Choices 2014). And your chances of conceiving naturally won’t be any higher than if you had sex every two or three days throughout your cycle (NICE 2013).
Sometimes your work or lifestyle makes regular sex tricky. There are some simpler techniques you could try that won’t take over your life. For example, you could use ovulation predictor kits (NHS Choices 2016) or, simpler still, get to know some of the more obvious signs that you are fertile, such as increased cervical mucus. (FPA 2014). You can then try to ensure that you have sex at least once or twice over the six days or so when you’re most fertile (NICE 2013).
In general, a more relaxed approach is recommended by fertility experts. Having unprotected sex every few days means that there will always be a supply of sperm in the right place whenever you ovulate (NICE 2013, FPA 2014). Simply taking it easy and enjoying your love life may be the best way to boost your chances.
Find out more about getting pregnant in your 20s, 30s or 40s, or talk to others who are hoping to get pregnant by joining our actively trying group.
Last reviewed: March 2017
ReferencesASRM. 2012. Age and fertility. A guide for patients. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. asrm.org [Accessed March 2017]
CKS. 2012. Pre-conception – advice and management. Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk [Acccessed March 2017]
FPA. 2014. Bodyworks. Your guide to understanding reproduction. London: Family Planning Association. fpa.org.uk [Accessed February 2017]
NHS Choices. 2014. Trying to get pregnant Live Well. nhs.uk [Accessed March 2017]
NHS Choices. 2016. How can I tell when I'm ovulating? Common Health Questions. nhs.uk [Accessed February 2017]
NICE. 2013 . Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Clinical Guideline 156. London: NICE. nice.org.uk [Accessed February 2017]