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Getting Started on Getting Pregnant

If you're considering having a baby, you probably have wondered how long it will take to get pregnant, when to have sex, and how often. Find the answers to your questions here.

The Odds of Getting Pregnant

It's a common question: What are the odds that I'll get pregnant this month? For most couples trying to conceive, the odds that a woman will become pregnant are 15% to 25% in any particular month .

But there are some factors that can affect your chance of getting pregnant:

  • Age. After you reach age 30, your chances of conceiving in any given month diminish, and they decrease as you age, dropping steeply in your 40s.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles. Having an irregular cycle makes it tricky to calculate when you're ovulating, thus making it difficult to know the ideal time to have sex.
  • Frequency of sex. The less often you have sex, the less likely you are to get pregnant.
  • Amount of time you've been trying to conceive. If you haven't gotten pregnant after one year of trying to conceive, your chances of becoming pregnant may be lower. Talk to your doctor about tests for female and male infertility.
  • Illnesses or medical conditions can affect pregnancy.

 

Understanding Menstrual Cycles

Knowing more about menstrual cycles may help.  

A woman's cycle begins on the first day that she notice bright red blood -- not just spotting -- and it ends on the day before the next cycle begins. A cycle can take 21 to 35 days -- or more.

If her cycle varies in length by a few days from one month to the next, that's considered irregular -- and common. Many women don't have regular cycles. It doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong.

Having Sex, Getting Pregnant

Here's another common question from couples trying to conceive: How often should we have sex? In short, the answer is frequently.

A lot of couples trying to conceive spend a lot of energy timing sex, with mathematical precision, to calculate when a woman is prime for ovulation. Theoretically, the approach makes sense. Recent studies have shown the window of opportunity for a sperm to fertilize an egg is pretty small: Essentially, it's only the four to five days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. Your best chances are on the day before and the day of ovulation. So, the key would seem to be to have sex frequently in that five- to six-day window.

But while timing your lovemaking exclusively to those few days makes logical sense, it also has some drawbacks -- primarily because your body doesn't always behave with clockwork regularity. Even if your cycle is regular, ovulation can occur at any time during the cycle. If you're having sex on the day you think you're ovulating, and you're off by a few days, you may be out of luck.

So the expert advice is to hedge your bets: Have sex at least two to three times every week. Studies have shown that as long as your partner has a normal sperm count, having sex every day of the month further increases your chances.

WebMD Medical Reference

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