Conception: How long will it take?

The million-dollar question – how long does it take to get pregnant?

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Once you have decided that you want to start a family, it’s hard to contain your excitement about getting pregnant. However, unfortunately ‘When will I conceive?’ is not such an easy question to answer.

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It is different for everyone and sometimes there is no obvious reason why you have been trying for a while and you are still not pregnant. However, there are statistics that might offer you some encouragement.

How long, on average, does it take to get pregnant?

Some couples conceive in their first month of trying, or of not using contraception, others can take months or even years and some couples will be unable to conceive naturally. To put some perspective on this, an averagely fertile couple has a 20-25% chance of conceiving with each cycle. Around 90% of couples conceive within 12 months of trying for a baby with regular unprotected sex, 95% within 24 months, and doctors usually won’t start investigating possible fertility problems until a couple has been trying to conceive for a year with no success.

For many women, after years of worrying about unwanted pregnancy, it can come as some surprise to find out that getting pregnant might not be as easy as we thought.

What factors affect how long it takes to get pregnant?

Medical conditions affecting fertility aside, the main factor affecting fertility is age. It might not be what women in their thirties and delaying starting a family want to hear, but age does play a part in how fertile you are, for the simple reason that as you age, so do your eggs, making fewer eggs that are ‘viable’ (that is, capable of sustaining a pregnancy).

MORE: The best way to get pregnant quickly and successfully

According to the UK’s National Health Service, a woman in her early twenties is twice as fertile as a woman in her late thirties, with the biggest drop off in fertility happening in the mid-thirties. It’s also the case that as you get older the rate of miscarriage rises dramatically. The general rate of miscarriage is believed to be about one-in-five (though it’s very difficult to say how many early miscarriages occur that are never noticed because the woman isn’t aware that she’s pregnant), by the time women reach their forties the rate of miscarriage could be as high as one-in-two.

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But before you start to panic, it’s very common nowadays for women to wait until their thirties, or even a little later, to start a family and many do so with few or no problems at all. If you do leave it a little later to start a family though, then you should be prepared for it to take longer for you to conceive and to carry a successful pregnancy to term then it would have done in your twenties.

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