True or False? Most women get pregnant within one month of trying.
If you said “false,” then you're correct. Although most people think it’s relatively easy to get pregnant, that's simply not true. Conception can be a complicated process.
So, how long does it take to get pregnant? When you're trying to conceive, it's important to know what to expect. We’ll cover:
- The basics
- How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
- Is it hard to get pregnant on the first try?
- How long is too long to get pregnant?
- How can I get pregnant faster?
- Other FAQs
The basics of conception
If you're wondering, “how long does it take to get pregnant?”, you're probably trying to conceive and have done your fair share of research. But let's not forget about the basics. How does conception actually occur?
What is ovulation?
Conception starts with ovulation. Ovulation is when the egg is released into the fallopian tube. This usually lasts only 12-24 hours. During this short period, a sperm cell has to swim to the egg and bind to it to fertilize it. It usually takes sperm about 30-45 minutes to reach the egg.
Because ovulation is the only time when a sperm can fertilize the egg, knowing how to track ovulation is especially important when you’re trying to conceive.
But the process doesn't end there. The fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and multiplies to become a cluster of cells.
As it reaches the uterus, the egg has to attach to the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). This process is called implantation. During this time, estrogen and progesterone signal the body to thicken the endometrium, so the embryo has enough nutrients to survive.
How long does conception take?
So, how long does all of this take? It can take up to six days for the sperm and egg to fuse and another three days to implant in the uterus. Once implantation occurs, your body releases a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which can be detected by a pregnancy test.
The conception process is intricate, and many factors have to align to help you have a successful pregnancy.
How long does it take to get pregnant after sex?
Contrary to popular belief, you can't get pregnant right after having sex. So, how long does it take to get pregnant when actively trying?
How long conception takes unfortunately can vary widely from one couple to the next. The NHS states that most couples become pregnant within a year of trying if they have unprotected sex every few days.
Is it hard to get pregnant on the first try?
Few studies can provide concrete data of how many couples get pregnant on the first time and how long it takes to get pregnant. One study from 2003 followed 346 women who practiced natural family planning methods to get pregnant:
- After one month of trying, 38% were pregnant
- After three months of trying, 68% were pregnant
- After six months of trying, 81% were pregnant
- After 12 months of trying, 92% were pregnant
- Of 346 women, 310 conceived; the remaining 10.4% did not get pregnant
While this study looked at a small sample size, it shows that the length of time to conception can vary greatly among couples. Most didn't become pregnant within the first month, and 1 in 10 didn't become pregnant within a year.
How long does it take to get pregnant after birth control?
Birth control can affect your ovulation, and many people stop ovulating when they’re on birth control. Because you need to ovulate to become pregnant, the time it takes to get pregnant after birth control depends on when you start ovulating after you stop taking or using birth control.
For most hormonal birth control, you’ll likely start ovulating soon after stopping use. For the pill and IUD, for example, you can get pregnant immediately; for the patch and implant, it takes about one to two weeks. Be sure to watch for the signs of ovulation after stopping birth control so you know when to have sex.
How long is too long to get pregnant?
Getting pregnant does not happen as quickly as most couples would like it to, so the timelines doctors give may surprise you.
Most doctors require couples to have regular sex for at least a year before referring them to infertility treatment.
The good news is that the odds are in your favor. Eighty-five percent of couples will conceive within the first year of trying, with the average time being six months.
However, if you are older than 35 and notice irregularities with your cycle or are not pregnant within 6 months, it’s best to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Can age affect my ability to get pregnant?
If you’re in your 30s or 40s, you might be concerned about your fertility because many articles online claim that the chances of getting pregnant significantly decrease after 35, but do not let that discourage you.
Data shows that women in their 20s have a 25% chance of getting pregnant each cycle, and that number drops to 20% for women in their 30s. However, for women in their 40s, the chance of getting pregnant naturally each month is about 5%
Most of this can be attributed to the decrease in the number of eggs a woman has because women are born with a finite amount of follicles and lose a significant number with each cycle.
Treatments for infertility
If you haven’t been able to get pregnant naturally, do not lose hope. There are various treatments that you can pursue based on your individual situation.
The most common treatments include in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), and surgery.
Talk to your doctor about what treatment might be right for you.
What can I do to get pregnant faster?
When you are eager to start your family, three months can seem like forever, let alone a year. You’ve probably come across various theories on how to get pregnant faster, from different positions to eating a fertility diet. Still, the truth is that none of those methods have much scientific evidence.
There is only one thing that can affect when and how fast you get pregnant: having sex once a day, every other day, during your ovulation window.
Your ovulation window includes the day you ovulate and five-days days before since sperm can live in your uterus and fallopian tubes for several days.
So if you’re still trying to answer, “how long does it take to get pregnant?”, the first thing you can do is to discover when you ovulate. When you use an ovulation tracking kit like Oova, it detects the hormones in your urine and gives you an accurate picture of your cycle.
How long does it take to get pregnant on the first try?
About one-third of couples, or 30%, get pregnant within the first month of trying. About 60% get pregnant within the first three months. Even though it’s not uncommon to get pregnant on the first try, it’s also not uncommon for the process to take closer to a year, or even longer.
When are you most likely to get pregnant?
You are the most likely to get pregnant when you’re ovulating, which is typically around day 14 of your menstrual cycle. However, this isn’t true for every person with a cycle, and while there are different bodily signs of ovulation, testing your hormone levels with a product like the Oova kit shows you the most accurate, clear picture of when you’re ovulating.
What are the odds of getting pregnant?
If you’re trying to conceive each month, your odds of getting pregnant are about 15-20%. That’s a 78% chance of conceiving within a year.
How much sperm is needed to get pregnant?
You only need one sperm to fertilize an egg and get pregnant. However, typically 100 million sperm are released every ejaculation.
How do I know if I am fertile enough to get pregnant?
To be fertile — and get pregnant — you need to be ovulating. You can figure out if and when you’re ovulating through bodily signs like cervical mucus and basal body temperature, or by tracking your hormone levels.
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