How long does it take to get pregnant?

The time when couples conceive a child is a joyful part of millions of people’s lives. It can also be an involved process requiring patience and understanding of the workings of the body. Pregnancy occurs easily for many couples, but others find that they need to expend more time and effort due to any number of potential issues. By knowing about the biological and lifestyle considerations around attempted pregnancy, you can find out how long it takes to get pregnant and what steps to take if you find it difficult to conceive.

Getting pregnant

When you try for a baby and cease to use birth control methods, your attempts at successful conception begin. Many studies suggest that with suitable understanding of the issues surrounding getting pregnant, couples tend to conceive on the following timescale: 25% within one month, and approximately 60% within half a year. Around 80% will conceive within one year, and up to 90% after eighteen months. These figures show that it is by no means uncommon for couples to try solidly for over six months and have no luck; this does not necessarily indicate a major problem. Multiple factors can affect the time taken to achieve pregnancy, and we explore these below.

Optimising your timing

Although many people get pregnant without much planning of dates for intercourse, many couples like to know the best time to conceive. To this end you should have sex during the woman’s period of ovulation. This helps to maximise the chances that the man’s sperm will fertilise an egg, as the ovum is released during this period.

Many women have no problem in determining when they ovulate, and sex with their partner can be timed accordingly. For those who have irregular and unpredictable ovulation cycles, the task can be more difficult. Fertility charts are available to assist couples with this, and ovulation predictor kits can also be invaluable for identifying ovulation periods. By pinpointing ovulation in this way, couples can reduce the stress that often goes with trying for a baby on a more haphazard schedule. You are also at an advantage for swiftly determining whether there are any ovulation failure problems which may be reducing your chances of conception.

Keeping positive

Timing according to ovulation dates can be useful, but it is important to remain happy and enjoying sex with your partner so the process does not become a chore. Some fertility professionals advise to continue regular sexual intercourse throughout the month, every two or three days, not limiting yourselves to days that coincide with ovulation. Whichever method you find the least stressful and most enjoyable is often right for you. This sort of positivity in your love life should also be kept up in work and social life. Reducing anxiety and improving happiness creates a better environment for your relationship and increases the likelihood of getting pregnant.

Healthy diet

The diets of both men and women can significantly affect their ability to conceive, both in positive and detrimental ways. It is important to think about these concerns even before you try to get pregnant, thereby improving your chances at quickly conceiving and giving birth to a healthy child. This should also lead you closer to your ideal weight, which further helps with conception.

What to eat: Around three months before trying for pregnancy, the couple should being assiduously sticking to a healthy, balanced diet. Concentrate on fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, fish, dairy, and iron-rich food. Nutrition and potency of the male’s sperm is improved by eating sensible amounts of food containing zinc, folates, and antioxidants. Coffee can also be beneficial for men. Folic acid is useful and some experts recommend vitamin supplements, but take these only with guidance from your doctor.

What to avoid: Avoid fats and sugars as much as possible. Both men and women should not have too much vitamin A or fish containing mercury; they should limit their alcohol intake and think seriously about quitting smoking if applicable. Most other avoidances are a matter of common sense, such as harmful drugs or excess in any one area. For instance, iron is beneficial but can lead to sperm problems if consumed in excess.


As we have seen, there is no set time when couples usually conceive. However, approximately 92% get pregnant within two years, and most doctors will look into the possibility of infertility after six to twelve months of trying for a baby. This depends on how concerned the couple is, and when they speak to their doctor. In many cases, natural fertility is still an option.

The majority of couples suffering through infertility are technically ‘subfertile,’ which means they are simply less fertile and less likely to conceive than the average couple. This can be due to any number of factors, including age, poor sperm motility, fallopian tube problems, or ejaculation disorders. Numerous options are available to assist infertile couples with achieving pregnancy.

Please visit our guide to infertility for more information.

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