From the moment you and your partner decided to start trying, you’ve been anticipating that missed period and a positive pregnancy test. But no success yet.
With almost half of U.S. pregnancies being unplanned, you may wonder why it hasn’t happened for you. Does it usually take longer? Is something wrong with me or my partner? Or is it just bad luck?
In this post, we’re discussing how long it usually takes to conceive, how you can speed that process up and when it’s time to see a doctor.
How Long Does it Take to Conceive: The Stats
Researchers in Germany studied 346 women who were trying to conceive. Since these couples were using natural family planning (ex. tracking menstrual cycles), they knew the best times to have sex to get pregnant, making conception more likely. Here were the results of the 2003 study:
- 38% were pregnant in one month
- 68% were pregnant in three months
- 81% were pregnant in six months
- 92% were pregnant in a year
- About 10% of women did not get pregnant
The conclusion: Researchers summarized that most couples get pregnant within 6 months of properly timed sex. However, every second couple is likely either infertile or subfertile (reduced fertility but still possible with time and without medical intervention).
How Long Do I Need to Try to Conceive Before Seeing a Doctor?
If you’ve tried to conceive for a year and haven’t gotten pregnant, you may want to consider speaking to your doctor or a fertility specialist. You may conceive in time if you keep trying. However, a doctor can diagnose any possible fertility issues and help you develop a plan forward.
If you’re over age 35 and have been trying for 6 months without any success, you should talk to your doctor. Since time is more limited for women older than 40, you may consider seeking professional advice right away.
Making a Fertility Appointment
If you’re unable to conceive or suspect there may be an issue, you and your partner should make an appointment with your family doctor, who will likely refer you to a specialist, called a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). If you’d prefer, you can also ask friends, family, moms in Facebook groups or research on Google to find specialist recommendations.
During your appointment, he or she will ask you and your partner a variety of questions from how long you’ve been trying to lifestyle decisions. That may also be followed up by a blood test, transvaginal ultrasound and semen, ovarian reserve or uterine testing.
After your doctor gets the results, you’ll have a follow-up appointment to discuss your treatment options.
What Factors Affect Conception?
Every woman doesn’t have the same chance of getting pregnant. Some factors make conception more or less likely:
Being 35 or over doesn’t mean you’re infertile. However, at this age, fertility starts to decline. As both a man and woman age, their egg and sperm quality can decline, making viable pregnancies more difficult.
Timing of Intercourse
There are many days each month that you can’t get pregnant. This is why tracking your menstrual cycle is important. A couple who has sex frequently during the monthly “fertility window” is more likely to get pregnant than the couple who has infrequent sex randomly throughout the month.
If you’re not pregnant in a year after trying, it’s possible you or your partner has fertility issues. For women, fertility issues could include ovulation problems, fallopian tube damage, uterine or cervical problems or endometriosis. For men, fertility problems may include low sperm count, quality or abnormal function. Other factors, such as his lifestyle and general health, can also affect your ability to get pregnant. In some cases, infertility is unexplained and could be caused by a few factors.
Being overweight or underweight can affect ovulation, making it more difficult to find your fertility window. Achieving a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise may increase your chances. Other factors that affect your general health, such as smoking and drinking, can also impact your fertility. Smoking can damage your fallopian tubes and cervix and may reduce your eggs. Both drinking and smoking can also affect your fetus early on, possibly before you even know you’re pregnant. For this reason, quitting smoking and drinking while you’re trying to conceive is a good idea.
Some sexually transmitted infections can affect your fallopian tubes, possibly leading to fertility problems.
How Can I Get Pregnant Faster?
The good news is that there are some changes you can make that may help you get pregnant quicker.
Talk to Your Doctor About Pregnancy
If you’re thinking about or trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about any changes you can make. Since he or she knows your personal and family medical history, they may be able to make specific recommendations.
Know Your Fertility Window
The best way to get pregnant is to know when your “fertility window” is each month and then have frequent sex on those days. First, track the length of your cycle each month for a few months. Then, do the calculation to find the most likely days. Other family planning methods include:
- Monitoring cervical mucus— Mucus will be a whitish color and have an egg-white-like consistency. This signals it’s a few days before ovulation and time to get busy.
- Monitoring BBT— Recording your basal body temperature lets you know when you’re ovulating. After a few months of tracking your BBT, you may see a pattern that will help you predict when you’re close to ovulating.
- Fertility tracking apps— Although it ultimately comes down to your ability to consistently track your cycle, there are apps to teach you how and let you record your symptoms.
Kick Bad Habits
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the healthier you are, the better fertility you’ll likely have. And that’s true for your partner, too. Here are some habits you can kick to the curb together:
- Smoking— You can’t smoke during pregnancy anyway and your partner won’t want to smoke around the baby, so trying to quit now is best. (Read 8 Tips You’ll Actually Use To Stop Smoking Before Pregnancy)
- Smoking cannabis— Although people often refer to cannabis as a “natural” drug, research is still unclear on how it affects conception and pregnancy. Cannabis smoke actually contains many of the same harmful chemicals as smoking tobacco. (Read Is It Okay To Use Cannabis During Pregnancy? Here’s The Truth)
- Drinking— Although one drink a day may be okay, heavy drinking can affect sperm quality and reduce testosterone. Many doctors recommend that women stop drinking completely if they’re trying to conceive. (Read 9 Tips to Make Quitting Drinking Before Conception Easier)
- Diet and exercise— If you’re overweight or underweight, make an appointment with your doctor to learn your healthy, ideal weight and what you can do to achieve it.
Take Prenatal Vitamins
There’s no magic pregnancy pill, but taking a prenatal vitamin before you become pregnant may help. Along with eating a balanced diet, these supplements make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs to develop and grow a healthy baby. Even if it doesn’t help you actually get pregnant, you should still take them. Since fetus development often starts before a woman even knows she’s pregnant, taking folic acid in preparation is a smart idea. This ensures your baby gets the nutrients she needs to prevent some birth defects. We recommend the MamaNurture Premium Prenatal Vitamins because of their curated blend of 25 vitamins and DHA.
Try to Relax
Although it’s simple advice, it’s not so easy when you’re worried about your “biological clock” counting down. While there isn’t definitive research on how stress affects conception, some research suggests that high cortisol levels (a stress hormone) can stop ovulation, making a woman unable to get pregnant. In addition, irregular periods caused by stress can make it more difficult to track your cycle and find the optimal days to have sex. Read our guide 9 Ways to De-stress While Trying to Conceive.
Other Fertility Boosting Tips
If you’re trying to conceive, check out our other guides:
- What Every Woman Needs to Know about Fertility Planning
- Trying to Conceive with Irregular Periods? Here’s How
- When Am I Ovulating? 5 Ways to Tell
- 6 Habits You Need to Kick Before Pregnancy
- 11 Tips to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
- 7 Fertility Boosting Vitamins & Nutrients
- 6 Ways to Strengthen His Sperm
- Can I Conceive After Tubal Ligation Reversal? Is Pregnancy Possible?
- When Should I See a Fertility Doctor?
- 4 Alternative Fertility Treatments
Do you have any tips to make conception happen faster? If so, share below! If you have friends that are also trying to conceive, share this article to help them out, too!
P.S. Nothing will be more rewarding than hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Our handheld, at-home fetal dopplers allow you to monitor the heartbeat at home, similar to an ultrasound. Many mothers say it creates a bonding experience and helps reassure them that their baby’s okay. Get yours today!