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 3-5 days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation itself. Your best chances are 1-2 days prior to ovulation. Doctors recommend intercourse every other day starting the week before ovulation or beginning after the end of your period.

Continued

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 and then after the end of your period further increases your chances.

Going Off the Pill to Get Pregnant

How long does it take for the effects of birth control medication to subside? It's actually possible to become pregnant immediately after going off the pill -- as soon as the pill's hormones are out of your system -- although it may take a few months before ovulation begins normally again.

Is it safe to conceive right after you go off the pill? Yes. Women who conceive immediately after going off the pill are as likely to have a healthy baby as women who waited a few months in between.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on July 27, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: 

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists web site. 

BabyMed web site. 

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institutes of Health. 

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences web site.

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