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How long does it take to conceive?

Once you've decided to try for a child you might expect it to happen right away, be prepared for it to take a bit longer

Posted: 25 March 2009
by ThinkBaby

It’s the million dollar question and one that most couples naturally want to know when they decide to have a baby, how long will it take us to conceive?

It might make planning your life that little bit harder, but there’s no answer to this question: 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. 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. To put some perspective on this, an averagely fertile couple has a 20-25% chance of conceiving with each cycle. Around 92% of couples conceive within 24 months of trying for a baby with regular unprotected sex and doctors usually won’t start investigating possible fertility problems until a couple has been trying to conceive for a year with no success.

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 are 'viable' (that is, capable of sustaining a pregnancy). 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.

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.

There are many steps you can take yourself to optimise your chances of conceiving, but if you haven’t managed to conceive after 12 months of actively trying then your doctor will probably be willing to help. There are various investigations and tests that can be done to see whether subfertility is a problem for either partner. If there is a problem of subfertility it can just as easily be a question of male subfertililty as of female subfertility and can also be a combination of the two, a low sperm count combined with infrequent ovulation, for example.

If you’ve been charting your fertility signs for a number of months and believe that you're not ovulating your doctor may consider fertility treatment sooner.

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Discuss this story

I really want a baby but i think i may have polycystic ovaries and Im really worried I wont be able to conceive. Im 24 and my boyfriend is nearly 21, and he doesnt want a baby yet but I really do. I dont know what to do.

Posted: 14/04/2007 at 00:24

Hi Tierney. I dont really know anything about PCOS but there are a few women on here somewhere that have it.I was really lucky concieving my children so i cant really relate to having to wait either but what i can relate to is wanting one and boyfriend not and i just wanted to say be careful.When i fell pregnant with my first my boyf at the time wasnt ready and it split us up. If you know you are going to spend the rest of your life with this person then i wouldnt push it but also if this is something that you really want then he needs to be able to come to some sort of compromise, at least give you some sort of indication as to when he might be ready.Men dont always understand what wanting a baby feels like to a woman so you really need to talk to him and get some answers.

I hope that helped a little.Keep smilin hun and good luck xx

Posted: 14/04/2007 at 15:04

hi, it was the other way round for me and my husband,he wanted one badly where i didnt want one at all, althrough we compramised cause i wanted to get married where he didnt, so i said we could compramise and we get married and have kids or we can have a life with neither, and we agreed to do both althrough after the wedding i wont lie i was praying i wouldnt get pregnant, and guess what the day i said i would have my coil taken out was the day i got pregnant and i had cists on my overies and all was fine with pregnancy and getting pregnant as u may expercience a bit of pain, its like the babys playing football with ur cists lol.

unfortunally my baby died please dont worry it wasnt the cists the baby had probs of his own,

he might change his mind as soon as i got pregnant i cried omg how could i do this, but after a little while i couldnt imagine my life without my baby althrough i had no choice and he came at 5 months and died at birth and gorgeous baby boy named taylor, talk to him but also remember not everyone wants something till they have it and then u wont wanna live without it,
Were trying again for a baby thats always the fun bit, beats being sick every morning,

just be healthy and take folic acid and everything should be fine, but ur cists wont play any part, apart from being a toy for babs.

Posted: 23/07/2007 at 13:11

part 2 of my answer

i know a online website that has loads of people in simular situations if ur intrested in joining, then give me an email im a member and theres over 100 groups for diffrent worrys and if by the horrible chance something did go wrong with the babs or ur bloke u will have the support and it does help

i hope this helps, i know i dragged on Jo xx

Posted: 23/07/2007 at 13:12

I have just read the posting from the 21 year old lady who wants a baby now, you have to really wait until your boyfriend is ready, it is a big responsiblity and he quite clearly isn't ready for it at the moment.My advice is to be patient and wait a couple of years it will come. I have four adult children and am pregnant at 48 with baby no 5 with a new partner.

Posted: 11/04/2008 at 08:52

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